Participants describe their experience during the skillConnect scope-a-thon, which was targeted at local nonprofits focused on racial equity. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

T. Rowe Price and Business Volunteers Maryland recently hosted skillCONNECT, a virtual scope-a-thon, for four Baltimore nonprofits to help them navigate and overcome the business challenges they face. 

Much like its name suggests, a scope-a-thon allows organizations and experts to collaborate in scoping out business problems and their solutions. T. Rowe Price specifically targeted non-profit organizations that focus on racial equity for skillCONNECT, and the event constituted a continuation of the firm’s $2 million commitment to fighting racial injustice. The skillCONNECT participants included Community Law in Action, The Food Project, Infinite Focus Schools and Parity Baltimore Inc. 

“Larger nonprofits that are more mainstream always seem to have more access to resources they’re larger and better connected,” said Renee Christoff, head of global associate engagement and corporate responsibility at T. Rowe Price. “The smaller, more grassroots organizations, which typically in Baltimore are run by people of color, may not have the same access to these resources so this is a way for us to continue our pass on helping to address social injustice and racial inequities.” 

Rowe Price has a long-standing partnership with Business Volunteers Maryland, and the firm sought its help in executing this event and connecting them with nonprofits. Twenty-three associates from the firm volunteered to share their expertise with the nonprofits in areas ranging from finance to marketing. 

Ryan Turner, executive director of Community Law and Action (CLIA), worked with T. Rowe Price associates to revamp the nonprofit’s board governance. CLIA, which focuses on transforming young people into community leaders, recently acquired The Intersection, another Baltimore nonprofit targeted at youths, and Turner wanted to ensure that the new board members had a smooth transition into the organization. 

“We came into the experience just wanting to examine the governance structure of our board, but we walked away with insight into how we can integrate all levels of the organization, including the youth, into the board planning process to ensure equity in decision making,” said Turner. 

skillCONNECT was Infinite Focus Schools first scope-a-thon, and Ashley Williams, founder and CEO of the nonprofit, concentrated on refining the organization’s marketing strategies. Infinite Focus Schools, which is an emotional intelligence and socio-emotional learning platform for youth, primarily sells its product to schools and teachers, and the scope-a-thon helped them to explore more avenues for sales. 

“I got really good feedback, and I left with things that I had not considered and was informed with enough information to take a positive next step in the direction that we want to take,” said Williams. 

Besides using their expertise to help the nonprofits conquer business challenges, the T. Rowe Price associates engaged in a crucial conversation about what leadership is like for people of color and how minority leaders can be better supported. 

“What would be most helpful for people of color who are running nonprofits or running start-up organizations is for people to put their money where their mouth is, which is what T. Rowe Price is doing by offering these workshop opportunities and by offering capital,” said Williams.

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