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Retaining Talent While Leading Social Change

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Despite Washington, D.C.’s supposed vise-grip on regional college graduates, Baltimore consistently ranks within the top 10 destinations in the country for that coveted demographic of career starters. If Washington D.C. is an effective talent magnet because of its high salaries and competitive job markets, Baltimore is a similarly alluring hub, for reasons ranging from its significantly lower cost of living to its easier access to employment.

In 2015, Baltimore is a front line of social change in America in a way that D.C. and most other cities are not. We have a different set of challenges, a unique collection of assets and if we try to evaluate ourselves on any other city’s terms, we have already lost. If we have learned anything from local models like Baltimore Corps and the Baltimore chapters of Teach for America and Venture for America, it is that Baltimore has a growing infrastructure capable of attracting the nation’s brightest young professionals. More than that, fromLizzy Jermaine Jen new educators to entrepreneurs, to lawyers, organizers and beyond, Baltimore is showing an expanding ability to attract the right talent — the people excited about dedicating their careers to solving entrenched social problems.

One of our big philosophies at Baltimore Corps is the importance of leaning into trauma – whether individually, for an organization or for a whole city. People only really learn what they’re capable of, and only really accomplish big things, when they accept the uncertainty and discomfort of taking on difficult challenges. We were recruiting our second class in April, and we were nervous that some of our candidates would drop out in the aftermath of the unrest. The opposite happened. Our Fellows and prospective Fellows called and wrote saying they were more excited than ever to live and work in Baltimore—that this city matters and they want to be the ones doing the important work of creating opportunities here.Anja Jen Corey

The bigger point is that that attitude isn’t limited to our Fellows. We see people all around the city, including huge numbers of young professionals and talented career starters, who choose to be here. Baltimore often has a reputation nationally of being a city with a lot of problems, but the narrative changes drastically when you look closer. For all of Baltimore’s challenges, the growing story is that we have world-class talent and world-class potential–and that those people aren’t defined by their considerable gifts, but by their eagerness to collaborate and their passion for this place. It’s hard to put into words, but easy to see. There’s a huge energy in Baltimore right now and a great population of people who see investing in themselves and investing in this city as increasingly interwoven.

Baltimore Corps was co-founded in 2013 by Fagan Harris and Wes Moore to recruit and place talented, mission-driven professionals with Baltimore-area non-profits through one-year fellowships. More information about Baltimore Corps can be found at