Maryland can provide economic mobility for its most vulnerable

Serving the best interests of the poor serves the best interest of all people. The Family Prosperity Act puts this premise into action by offering the permanence of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit. Permanently extending the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and expanding the Child Tax Credit puts money into the pockets of those needing it most and helps set them on a path toward success. As Maryland’s federally designated antipoverty network, community action agencies know well what it takes to fight against poverty across the state.

The Baltimore Banner article, “Gov. Moore’s first step to ending poverty: Tax credits for low-income families,” provides a variety of perspectives from organizations and legislators supporting The Family Prosperity Act. We agree. The Maryland Community Action Partnership (MCAP) also sees this act as a viable solution that helps get to the root of child poverty and the extended family.

MCAP’s community action agencies have served 2,634,585 lower-income individuals between 2018 and 2021. The agencies partner with organizations such as CASH Campaign of Maryland, local social service agencies and Maryland Hunger Solutions. MCAP works specifically with CASH Campaign of Maryland to help provide free tax preparation for low-income individuals and families. We see the benefits when these tax credits are applied. They help build long-term stability for the whole family.

An effective strategy being implemented across the state by our network of agencies is the 2-Generation Approach. It’s a holistic approach that focuses on moving families out of poverty by combining parent and child support programs. Our network of agencies is developing pathways to move families from crisis to economic mobility. The Family Prosperity Act will strengthen 2Gen efforts by allowing families the cushion needed to comfortably make investments in their futures. Community action agencies help families with budgeting, housing and counseling, and provide a range of services. The tax credits help bridge the gap to move families toward economic mobility.

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We are pleased to see the Family Prosperity Act as one of Gov. Wes Moore’s priorities. It speaks to his commitment to leaving no one behind.

Angela Martin, Annapolis

Angela Martin is executive director of Maryland Community Action Partnership.

Supporting Black-owned businesses is an investment in Baltimore

Lexington Market vendor Robin Holmes owns Debbie's Donuts, a Black and woman owned-small business.
Lexington Market vendor Robin Holmes owns Deddle’s Donuts, a Black- and woman-owned small business. (Wambui Kamau/WYPR)

Black entrepreneurs in Baltimore have demonstrated both business resilience and a steadfast dedication to social change as they’ve launched and managed their businesses during one of the most tumultuous economies in recent memory. In fact, nearly 9 in 10 Black business owners say they are committed to driving social change through their businesses, according to research from Bank of America.

As we celebrate Black History Month and see the impact of events such as the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Basketball Tournament, it is a good time to recognize and renew the role we can play in supporting Black-owned businesses year-round. When we support and invest in Black-owned small businesses, we are investing in Baltimore.

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Nearly 1 in 3 people in the Baltimore area are Black, but only 5% of employer businesses are Black-owned. Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges that can hinder their startup or success. Here are three ways to immediately connect with and support these businesses:

  • To familiarize yourself with Black-owned businesses in Baltimore, review Visit Baltimore’s recently released Black-owned Business Directory and reinvest in your community when you shop.
  • Help businesses in your community attract new customers by promoting news and announcements and sharing positive experiences through social media and word-of-mouth.
  • Help promote Black-owned businesses that provide excellent service or products by publishing and sharing positive online reviews through popular websites such as Yelp, Square and Google reviews.

When you make a commitment to buy from Black-owned businesses during the CIAA tournament, Black History Month, and throughout the year, it’s important to remember you’re helping to contribute to community wealth creation and development for these business owners and across the broader business landscape, as well as positive social change.

The private sector has a role in helping remove barriers and advance economic opportunity, which is why Bank of America is committed to supporting Black-owned small businesses. By supporting Black-owned businesses and building impactful partnerships with local organizations in Baltimore, we can continue supporting the growth of those businesses that are making significant contributions to our local economy and community.

You can find more ways to support Black-owned small businesses in the Baltimore community here.

Janet Currie, Baltimore

Janet Currie is greater Maryland president of Bank of America. She also is a member of The Baltimore Banner board of directors and served as CIAA fundraising co-chair.