$60,000 in Grants Awarded to Howard County Changemakers at Second Changemaker Challenge

Laurel, MD (November 12, 2019) – United Way of Central Maryland and the Horizon Foundation came together to award four winners a total of $60,000 at last night’s 2019 Changemaker Challenge event. Selected from 56 applicants, nine finalists presented their big ideas for social change in Howard County to a live audience of 250 community members and a panel of judges. The four winners include Orlando Goncalves and Alfred Striano for their Upcycled Structures from Recycled Goods big idea ($25,000 grant), Liz Burrage, Colette Jackson and Bryan Sorrentino of The Arc of Howard County for their Community Accessibility with Dignity big idea($15,000 grant), Drs. Leah Katherine Saal and Lisa Schoenbrodt for their STEER – Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response big idea ($10,000 grant) and Pamela Woolford for her Spreading the Word about Columbia’s Black Freedom Visionaries big idea($10,000 grant).

Hosted by the Horizon Foundation and United Way, the Changemaker Challenge is focused on sparking innovation and fresh thinking to address some of Howard County’s most pressing issues.

“We were blown away by the ideas we received this year,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO, the Horizon Foundation. “The Changemaker Challenge showcases the power, creativity and energy of our community to address complex social problems. The breadth of challenges addressed, and the creativity used to address those challenges is inspiring. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated, enterprising individuals and nonprofits who truly care about social change and making our community a better place for everyone.”

“Despite all the strengths of the community in Howard County, we recognize that many pressing problems continue to persist,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our data shows that one in four Howard County households can’t make ends meet and struggle with basic expenses like housing, food, and transportation.”

Held for the second time since 2017, the Changemaker Challenge solicited ideas from Maryland residents to address a community need, and finalists pitched projects focused a diverse range of issues from environmental education and caregiver support to mental health and Latino community engagement.

“The Changemaker Challenge aligns so well with our goal of supporting grassroots leaders who want to drive positive change in their communities,” added Baker. “We celebrate the Changemaker Challenge winners, past and present, and all those who are sparking new ways of thinking in our communities.”

The other finalists were Danielle N. DuPuis with the Big Red Barn Environmental Education – Community Ecology Institute; Lucas de Melo and Patricia Silva with the Initiative for Latin American Community Engagement – InLACE; Gary Canteen and John Way with Mental Health First Aid and Narcan Training with a Focus on Veterans – VA Way; Claire Cohen, Dan Demmitt, Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, Tracy Novak, Rachael Parran, Esther Tenaglio, and Kathy Wehr with Practical Skills Training for Caregivers – Howard County General Hospital; and Dr. Zaneb Khan Beams with Rubix Preventative Mental Health Program – Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center

The finalists presented to a panel of judges including Greg Olaniran, board chair, Horizon Foundation and partner, Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, LLC; Lori Robinson, board member, United Way of Central Maryland and vice president of corporate branding, communications and community relations, McCormick & Company; and Robin Steele, board secretary, Horizon Foundation and business manager, BRIDGES Consulting, Inc. at the live event held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel. Following is a description of each of the winning proposals.

Upcycled Structures from Recycled Goods won a $25,000 grant. The grant will help founders Orlando Goncalves and Alfred Striano, get their 501c3, Upcycled, Inc., off the ground. The Howard County-based non-profit organization will create a more environmentally conscious community through the removal of debris and plastic waste in area parks and communities. Upcycled will encourage recycling by offering free recycling services to businesses and residents, as well as organizing community cleanups. The plastic recycling will then be processed into an interlocking brick design that can be used to build sustainable, low-cost structures that will be donated to areas in need.

Community Accessibility with Dignity, proposed by The Arc of Howard County, won a $15,000 grant to fund adult changing tables in the community. There are currently no public bathrooms in Howard County equipped to accommodate adults with disabilities whose caretakers need to provide assistance in restrooms. Without these facilities, caregivers are forced to change continence pads on public toilet floors or wait until they go home.

STEER – Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response, presented by Dr. Leah Katherine Saal and Dr. Lisa Schoenbrodt, won $10,000 to create, implement and evaluate a sustainable training program for Fire/EMS personnel in Howard County to better serve individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The program will use Self-Advocate Educators alongside disability service professionals to teach firefighters and EMS about the range of characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and how their behaviors and communication abilities may vary from the non-disabled population in crises or emergency situations. Trainees will learn evidence-based techniques for communication and safety and have the ability to practice these skills and concepts through role-play situations with the Self-Advocate Educators – providing meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Howard County.

Spreading the Word about Columbia’s Black Freedom Visionaries, proposed by Pamela Woolford,won a $10,000 grant. Woolford’s big idea is to add an in-depth section to her upcoming 2020 memoir to reveal some of the countless stories of black history-makers in the early years of Columbia, Maryland. The town’s story as a flagship for racial harmony is told and retold absent a diversity of powerful stories of black changemakers who not only shaped the development of Columbia but also shaped and continue to impact American society on a national level. With this grant, Woolford will also be able to take her storytelling on the road to share the pivotal impact particular black leaders made to Columbia with the community.

For more information about the Changemaker Challenge and the finalists, visit www.changemakerchallengehc.org.

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United Way of Central Maryland makes our communities stronger. We work with families and individuals to keep them in their homes and out of shelters, with kids who need help in school, and with people who need healthy food and jobs that pay the bills. We achieve all this with the help of our partners: volunteers, donors, other nonprofits and area businesses who share our passion for making lives and neighborhoods stable and healthier.

The Horizon Foundation is the largest independent health philanthropy in Maryland. We lead community change so everyone in Howard County can live a longer, better life. We are committed to improving health through innovative initiatives, collaborative partnerships, strategic grantmaking and thoughtful advocacy. Learn more at thehorizonfoundation.org.

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