United Way of Central Maryland Launches Region-wide Changemaker Challenge


More than $500,000 to be awarded in Baltimore City and each of the five surrounding counties to burgeoning leaders using innovative ideas to impact their communities

United Way of Central Maryland is looking for progressive thinkers who are ready to elevate, accelerate and activate their big ideas to make their communities even better. Today, the organization announced a call for entries for its Changemaker Challenge, which will provide more than $500,000 in awards to winners in each of the counties the organization serves, including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll*, Harford and Howard, as well as Baltimore City. The 2021 United Way of Central Maryland Changemaker Challenge will amplify the power and impact of those who want to drive positive social change. 

“Now more than ever, our community needs innovative thinkers who are ready to make a big impact,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “We recently surveyed the community and found that the top concerns during the pandemic have been mental health, child care and education, and housing. As an organization, we continue to work with communities and partners to find solutions – but it can’t end with us. We want to foster and elevate the creativity, and the leaders, we know are in our neighborhoods. We want to give more people a seat at the table, and provide a platform to share their innovative ideas to close the gap and help even more people.”

Individuals and nonprofit organizations are invited to submit their ideas focusing on sustainable actions to help residents and communities recover from the pandemic and the inequities it exposed. The following are a few examples of areas where central Maryland could benefit from fresh ideas: Expanding equity, stable housing, access to healthy food, mental health, digital access, early childhood and youth education.  

Finalists will receive group and one-on-one coaching and mentorship, professionally edited pitch videos, and promotion through United Way of Central Maryland’s networks and owned platforms. Selection, coaching, filming, pitching, and awards will take place throughout Fall 2021. 

United Way of Central Maryland is also looking for volunteers to support Changemaker Challenge finalists in practicing pitches, and mentoring winners. Learn more about volunteering for the Changemaker Challenge here

“I want others to know how encouraged and empowered I was by the process of the Changemaker Challenge competition,” said Pamela Woolford, a 2019 Changemaker Challenge winner. “There was a real community spirit [that] also fed into helping each of us hone and clarify our ideas, which in the end, likely helped us create even better individual projects.” 

The Changemaker Challenge began in Howard County as a partnership between United Way of Central Maryland and the Horizon Foundation. Since the first event in 2017, the Changemaker Challenge has awarded almost $100,000 to community members looking to address complex social issues, including supporting recovery from alcoholism with healthy alternatives, helping children from lower-income families access higher education and recreational sports opportunities, creating upcycled structures from recycled goods, spreading the word about Columbia’s Black freedom visionaries, and more.  

Now, United Way of Central Maryland is looking to expand the Changemaker Challenge to each of the counties the organization serves, giving even more community members a way to bring their big ideas to fruition and create lasting, meaningful change. Learn more about each Changemaker Challenge, including official rules, terms and conditions online at: 

*In Carroll County, United Way of Central Maryland is working with local leaders to sponsor a prize in the Carroll Biz Challenge this August. 

United Way of Central Maryland promotes equity, creates opportunity, and improves lives by increasing access to basic needs such as health, housing, employment, and education. Learn more at uwcm.org

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