$100K in Grants Awarded to 20 Baltimoreans Creating Trust and Connection in the City

July 26, 2022

M &T Bank and The Aspen Institute partner to Honor Neighbors Weaving Us Together

Contact: Sara Warfield
Juno Collective
410-952-1271- cell Sara@Juno-Collective.com 

Baltimore, MD, July 26, 2022 –– M&T Bank and Weave: The Social Fabric Project, a program of the Aspen Institute, today announced the 20 Baltimoreans who will each receive a $5,000 Weaver Award for projects that meet their community’s emotional need for connection and belonging. 

M&T Bank and the Weave project joined forces for the second year in a row to honor Baltimoreans who are weaving an inclusive social fabric. “We use the word ‘weaver’ to describe these important people because they are trusted and give trust, weaving our communities together through relationships,” says Frederick J. Riley, who leads the Weave project at the Aspen Institute. “They are the people we turn to when something happens or the community needs to act. They bring us together.”

This year’s Weaver Awardees come from across the city, with projects supporting youth, families, new parents, returning citizens, seniors, artists, and those without homes. Awardee bios and projects are described at WeaverAwards.org. Individual and group photos are available on request.


Meet the 2022 Weaver Awardees 

  • Danielle Billups, West Baltimore and beyond, Compassionate Hearts of Care
  • Dayson Brooks, Greenmount and beyond, Level Up
  • Turell Brooks, Sharp Leadenhall, God’s Best Family Inc
  • Charles DeBarber, Curtis Bay-Brooklyn, Filbert Street Garden
  • Christina Delgado, Belair-Edison, Tola’s Room
  • Tyde-Courtney Edwards, Midtown Mt. Vernon and beyond, Ballet After Dark
  • Haneef Hardy, Upton and beyond, Unlimited Potential Mentoring Program
  • Michael Harris, Penn North and beyond, FACE (Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders Inc.)
  • Dena Jackson, City-wide, Positivity in Baltimore
  • Eze Jackson, Station North and beyond, “Who’s Next?”
  • Isaiah Johnson, Greenmount East Leadership Project
  • Valarie Matthews, Park Heights, Catherine’s Family and Youth Services, Inc.
  • Sonja Merchant-Jones, Better Waverly Neighborhood Association
  • Christopher Schulze, Gwynns Falls Community Association 
  • Tray Smith, Southeast Baltimore and beyond, Southeast Youth Celebration
  • Danna Thomas, Southwest Baltimore and beyond, Happy Teacher Revolution
  • Diane Williams, Oliver, The Peoples Association
  • John (Chin) Williams, Station North, North Ave. Mission
  • Olu Butterfly Woods, Reservoir Hill and beyond, Garden Art Parties 
  • Chin-Yer Wright, City-wide, The Baltimore Scene


“The Weaver Awards are designed specifically for individuals and small groups who don’t have the time, experience, or networks to receive typical grants from foundations, corporations, or governments,” said Dan Porterfield, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute. “These are people out in the community every day prioritizing relationships, showing up authentically, and making our communities stronger.” 

Augie Chiasera, M&T’s regional president for Greater Baltimore, said: “The work the Weaver Awardees do to lift our communities is so important to the vibrancy of the neighborhoods and future of Baltimore City. M&T is honored to again partner with the Aspen Institute to recognize these individuals and groups and support their efforts to strengthen the ties that bind our communities.”

Applications for this year’s awards were accepted via video and online in May and June through a simple application process asking applicants a few questions about themselves, their communities, and their Baltimore projects, and inviting recommendations from neighbors. A 16-member advisory board of community advocates who intimately know Baltimore’s neighborhoods selected the 20 awardees from among 97 applications.  

The judges included Judeith James of the Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Crisis Center, Nneka Nnamdi of Fight Blight Baltimore, Crickett Woloson of the Elbow Fund, Denis Sgouros of B-360, Sam Smith of the Weave Baltimore Community, Antonio Tabora of Fulton Bank, Chris Wack of the Baltimore Ravens, Tanya R. Dorsey and Jim Peterson from M&T Bank, and 2021 Awardees Danielle Battle of Restoring Inner City Hope (RICH), Duane “Shorty” Davis of the Good in the Hood Initiative, Ashley Esposito of Village of Violetville, Inc., Naimah Sharif of Nlife, and Rev. Michele Ward of Lights on Greenmount West Initiative. 

The Weaver Awards go beyond just the awarding of grants. All Baltimoreans, whether they applied or not, can participate in community weaving events and join a network that connects, supports, and offers a range of resources to the city’s neighborhood weavers. People can learn more and join the Weave Baltimore community at WeaverAwards.org

Awardees will work on their projects for a year. They’ll have regular progress check-ins with staff at the Weave project, but no formal reports or budgets to submit. The Awardees will be honored at M&T Bank Stadium when the Ravens play Miami on September 18 and at a Weaver Award celebration at M&T Bank Stadium on September 24.


About the Aspen Institute’s Weave: The Social Fabric Project 

Weave: The Social Fabric Project is a nationwide program of the Aspen Institute that supports and inspires grassroots leaders who are building social trust and weaving an inclusive social fabric so our communities can thrive. Weave supports and strengthens these weavers by providing access to resources, opening doors to partnerships, and inspiring new generations of weavers. New York Times columnist and author David Brooks founded the project in 2018 and serves as its chair. 

About M&T Bank 

M&T Bank provides banking products and services in 12 states across the eastern U.S. from Maine to Virginia and Washington, D.C. In Greater Baltimore, M&T is one of the region’s largest corporate philanthropists, contributing $3.5 million annually to more than 200 nonprofit organizations. For more information on M&T Bank, visit www.mtb.com.

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