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Baltimore Homecoming seeks to highlight city’s positive work

by Nate Loewentheil & JM Schapiro

Baltimore Sun Op-Ed

May 27, 2018

Baltimore is a crucible for new ideas. Our writers and artists are shaping the national conversation on race. Researchers at our hospitals and laboratories are on the cutting edge of science. Many of the most creative national models for social change are emerging from Baltimore’s neighborhoods.

But the success stories that emerge from Baltimore represent only a fraction of our potential. We all have a story of a friend or neighbor who couldn’t find the resources they needed, of the up-and-coming artist who gave up under financial pressure, of the after-school program changing lives but short on funds, of the young entrepreneur launching a business who couldn’t find a loan. There is a mismatch in Baltimore between the energy and creativity of our citizenry and the resources available that can turn a concept into a career or a social movement.

Hard data backs this up. A recent reportfrom the Hopkins 21st Century Cities Initiative detailed the constraints on access to capital, showing that compared to other large urban markets there is limited venture and working capital available in Baltimore City. That’s one reason that 30 percent of companies launched at the city’s business incubators leave Baltimore to find investment. Meanwhile, although Baltimore is blessed with a culture of charitable giving and a number of committed foundations, we do not benefit from the scale and scope of philanthropy in peer cities like Pittsburgh.

One of the best ways to mobilize the necessary resources to realize the city’s potential is by sharing the stories of the countless individuals who are working hard — day in and day out — to build a brighter future for Baltimore. Too often the stories that reach the rest of the country about Baltimore are about crime, violence and poverty. We can’t ignore the realities of the challenges facing our city. But we are equally at fault if we ignore the dynamic work of the people all around us reshaping our Baltimore block by block, organization by organization, business by business. If we can share those stories with the rest of the country, we can start to increase venture capital and business lending, expand philanthropy and generate investment for neighborhood revitalization.

Enter Baltimore Homecoming (, a project that aims to recruit new allies for Baltimore from around the U.S. by highlighting the positive work happening here. Baltimore Homecoming begins with those who are most naturally inclined to help: people who grew up, went to school or worked in our city. In October of this year, 100 of these “alumni” will return to Baltimore for a whirlwind tour of the city’s social, economic and artistic landscape that will give them a first-hand look at the remarkable people who are making change in the city every day in their neighborhoods and in the private and nonprofit sectors. By connecting local change-makers with Baltimore alumni, new investments and philanthropy will soon follow.

To be successful, the Homecoming needs to bring to the fore untold stories of Baltimore heroes. We are asking the public to identify and nominate a cohort of “Homecoming Heroes” — artists, activists, community members and non-profit leaders who have, through their commitment and initiative, improved the life of our city. This newly launched platform will provide first-hand, real-life stories through which alumni can learn about those in our city who are dedicating their time, energy and resources to the community. This new award will be presented at the Homecoming in October 2018.

The work of building a brighter future for Baltimore is happening all around us. We can all contribute to that work by looking afresh at what’s happening in our neighborhoods and communities, recognizing the heroes who are doing groundbreaking and meaningful work, and sharing their example.

Nate Loewentheil is president of Baltimore Homecoming Inc., which he founded with J.M. Schapiro, who is CEO of Continental Realty.

Baltimore Homecoming Announces Homecoming Hero Awards

May 15, 2018

Baltimore CityBizList

To showcase the inspiring work happening in Baltimore and attract investment back to the city, Baltimore Homecoming announced today the Homecoming Hero Awards, a program that will recognize and honor outstanding local residents—community and non-profit leaders, activists, artists or other innovators—who have made a significant impact on Baltimore City. During the inaugural Homecoming event in October, five of these local residents will be recognized with the Homecoming Hero Award, which will come with a cash prize and exposure to Baltimore alumni around the country.

“The best way to mobilize new investments and philanthropy for Baltimore is by broadcasting the stories of individuals fighting to build a stronger city,” said Nate Loewentheil, president and co-founder, Baltimore Homecoming, Inc. “That’s why we launched the Hero Awards—to get the word out about the remarkable people, organizations and businesses in our hometown.”

The Homecoming Hero Awards are intended to celebrate individuals in Baltimore who, through their activism, the arts, community work or nonprofit leadership, have helped shape a brighter future for Baltimore. The award winners will be selected through a public nomination and voting process.

The Homecoming Hero Award timeline is as follows:

  • FINALISTS SELECTION: In early July, the Homecoming Host Committee will narrow down the nominees to 10 finalists.
  • VOTE: Beginning July 18, the public will vote on their top five Heroes. The voting will be open through August 18.
  • WINNERS ANNOUNCED: 10 finalists will be invited to participate in the Homecoming event and to share their stories. On Thursday, October 4, during the event, the top five winners will be announced and will receive a cash award of $3,000 each.

The 10 finalists will be selected based on evaluations of impact, inspiration and mobilization, and creativity. The Host Committee panel will consider: challenges and/or issues the nominee has sought to address and their progress in doing so; capacity to transform the lives of individuals or touch the lives of many; the geographic area of impact; how each nominee has inspired others to take action; and the potential of nominee’s work to break new ground or create a new model for change.

“We want to celebrate the community activists working to improve their neighborhoods, the innovators launching new small businesses, the artists telling powerful stories, the educators who are reshaping lives one student at a time,” said JM Schapiro, CEO of Continental Realty and co-founder of Baltimore Homecoming. “Through the Hero Awards, we’ll share these stories with Baltimore natives around the U.S. and inspire them to get involved.”

The first annual Baltimore Homecoming is poised to mobilize investment in Baltimore by bringing back accomplished Baltimore natives from around the U.S. and connecting them with the city’s remarkable leaders and doers. Over the course of the event, which will run from October 3-5, 2018, Baltimore alumni will have a whirlwind tour of Baltimore’s social, economic and artistic landscape. Homecoming will expose them to social innovators and neighborhood revitalization projects; highlight entrepreneurs and small business owners; and provide a platform for our city’s talented young people to engage with attendees.

Baltimore Homecoming Event Off To Powerful Start

April 24, 2018

Baltimore CityBizList

Notable and growing list of Baltimore alumni coming October 3rd for three-day event include SoulCycle CEO, hedge fund founder, NBA star, Former Federal Reserve executive, and more

With planning well underway, the first annual Baltimore Homecoming is poised to mobilize investment in Baltimore by bringing back accomplished Baltimore natives from around the U.S. and connecting them with the city’s remarkable leaders and doers. Since launching the effort in November 2017, the Homecoming vision has captured the interest of Baltimore’s alumni community. More than six months out, dozens of high-profile business leaders, athletes, artists and celebrities have already committed to attend and event organizers are well on their way of reaching their goal of 100 alumni attendees.

“Our vision is to build an alumni network of accomplished Baltimore natives from around the U.S. that can connect with and support our city’s remarkable community leaders, activists, artists and entrepreneurs,” said Nate Loewentheil, president and co-founder, Baltimore Homecoming, Inc. “The first step is bringing those alumni back for our first Homecoming in October and, right now, things are looking good!” Loewentheil, along with Baltimore business executive JM Schapiro (both born, raised and living in Baltimore), founded Baltimore Homecoming.

Over the course of the multi-day event, Baltimore alumni will have a whirlwind tour of Baltimore’s social, economic and artistic landscape. The Homecoming will expose them to social innovators and neighborhood revitalization projects; highlight entrepreneurs and small business owners; and provide a platform for our city’s talented young people to engage with attendees. Along the way, there will be opportunities for alumni to join these efforts by donating to social, educational and artistic organizations, helping city schools, supporting small business owners, and investing in start-ups and real estate. In addition to dedicated programming for out-of-town guests, there will be a series of receptions and events open to the public focused on the arts.

“I know first-hand what Baltimoreans can achieve. I’ve seen it every step of my life,” said Muggsy Bogues, former NBA player. “I can’t wait to attend Baltimore Homecoming and meet the city’s artists and activists and find ways to join in their work.” Added Jon Jacobson, CEO of Highfields Capital, “I love Baltimore, and I miss my hometown. Baltimore Homecoming will be a great opportunity to reconnect and re-engage. Looking forward to hearing from community leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators about both the city’s challenges AND all the exciting things currently taking place, and more importantly, how we can help.”

The Baltimore Homecoming Host Committee was organized to attract back guests and shape the programming for the October 3-5 event. The Host Committee includes Honorary Chair Mayor Catherine Pugh and nine event Co-Chairs: Emmy-winning actress Julie Bowen, BGE CEO Calvin Butler, Emmy-nominated actor Josh Charles, Congressman Elijah Cummings, Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels, filmmaker and Tony Award-winning Broadway producer Amanda Lipitz, author and foundation executive Wes Moore, Under Armour Founder Kevin Plank and MacArthur Fellow and award-winning sculptor/performance artist Joyce Scott, as well as over 40 other Baltimore leaders from business, religious, educational and community institutions.

Word of the event has spread quickly and some of Baltimore’s most accomplished alumni are eager to participate, including business leaders like Carl Turnipseed and Melanie Whelan:

  • Carl Turnipseed, former executive for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: “Baltimore is a city with enormous potential. As proud Dunbar High and Morgan State alumni, my wife Joyce and I are both excited to come back and find ways to contribute.”
  • Melanie Whelan, CEO of SoulCycle: “I’m proud of my Baltimore roots and can’t wait to come back and meet some of the city’s entrepreneurs and innovators. I’ll be bringing my whole family!”

“When we began working on this idea almost 18 months ago, we hoped that Baltimore alumni around the country would be open to the concept, but we’ve been floored by the energy and enthusiasm,” said JM Schapiro, CEO of Continental Realty and co-founder of Baltimore Homecoming. “We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re confident that we’ll have a great crowd for our inaugural Homecoming.”

The progress of Baltimore Homecoming is further illustrated by the commitment of Baltimore companies and foundations to support the event. Lead sponsors for Baltimore Homecoming include Continental Realty Corporation, Whiting-Turner, M&T Bank and BGE; additional sponsors include Brown Advisory and PNC Bank.

Charm offensive: Baltimore Homecoming is looking to reconnect expats with the city

The 2018 event is looking to show those who left what’s happening in Baltimore now, including the tech scene.

By Stephen Babcock

November 15, 2017

Baltimore city will have its own homecoming in 2018.

A new project is looking to draw accomplished folks who are originally from Baltimore or have close ties back to the city. They’ll return for a weekend called Baltimore Homecoming from Oct. 3-5, 2018.

The idea behind the event is to reconnect those who moved away with what’s happening in the city today.

That leaves an opportunity for people working in the city today to showcase their work, and the group behind the event is accepting nominations for who should be included.

“The event will showcase Baltimore’s vibrant arts and culinary scenes, expose guests to the city’s remarkable innovators and entrepreneurs, and encourage discussion about the city’s challenges – and the bright future we can build together,” its website states.

The effort is being spearheaded by a nonprofit which was cofounded by Nate Loewentheil, who worked as a liaison to Baltimore in the Obama administration, and JM Schapiro, CEO of Continental Realty. A 40-member organizing committee includes Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, Wes Moore and JHU President Ron Daniels among its members.

The organizers are looking to get the tech scene involved, both in who is invited and what they show.

“The technology scene in Baltimore will certainly be a part of what we highlight at the Homecoming, and to the extent there are tech leaders from around the U.S. that hail from Baltimore, we will be eager to bring them home!” Loewentheil told us via email.

They’re accepting nominations for who should be included:


The effort is modeled on Detroit Homecoming, which drew 230 expat attendees in its fourth year this fall, according to the Detroit News.

‘Baltimore Homecoming’ Hopes To Reconnect Charm City’s Finest With Those Still in Baltimore

By Jonathan McCall

November 13, 2017

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Returning to their roots. A first of it’s kind event will be honoring Baltimoreans contributions to american society.

Some of Charm City’s finest are now looking to reconnect with the city while helping leaders still here at home.

‘Baltimore Homecoming’ is expected to bring back the city’s best known sons and daughters to help reconnect with the city over three days.

Organizers of this event hope the names will not only help build new ideas, but also relationships with those still here.

They’re some of the best known names in America: Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, actor Josh Charles, and actress Julie Bowen.

And they’re all from Maryland.

“Baltimore has so many great young leaders in business, politics, and the arts,” Cummings said.

They’re now tasked with helping bring Charm City’s best and brightest – artists, journalists, athletes, experts and more – back home.

“These folks aren’t always connected to the city,” said Nate Lowentheil, with Baltimore Homecoming. “They don’t always know what’s happening in Baltimore.”

Lowentheil is now looking to be the bridge.

He is the brain behind Baltimore Homecoming, an event aimed to bring those with deep connections to Baltimore back home to reconnect and revitalize those still here at home.

“The idea of the homecoming is to engage this alumni network of accomplished Baltimore natives from around the country, and get them to meet all the amazing young leaders in Baltimore. The artists, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the community leaders. And to find ways to reconnect to the life of our city,” Lowentheil said.

Over three days, 100 accomplished Baltimore natives will take part in site visits to see firsthand the work being done, while getting a chance to meet 1-on-1 with those making a difference in the community.

“They see the opportunity… And they believe that when we tell baltimore’s story and share it with the world, that people are going to respond well,” Lowentheil said.

Click here to nominate a Baltimorean that you think is worthy of the honor.

The first Baltimore Homecoming will take place October 3-5.

Baltimore Homecoming aims to draw accomplished natives back home

Lorraine Mirabella, The Baltimore Sun

November 13, 2017

Actor Josh Charles, artist Joyce J. Scott and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank are among several dozen prominent Baltimore leaders behind a “homecoming” project designed to give the city a boost by reconnecting accomplished natives to their hometown.

The nonprofit Baltimore Homecoming Inc., being launched Monday by Baltimore natives Nate Loewentheil and JM Schapiro, aims to tap the talents and resources of Baltimore expatriates who have made a mark in their field but may have lost touch with the city.

The host group, including leaders in the city’s business, religious, educational and community circles, plans to reach out to athletes, entertainers, writers, scientists, artists, businesspeople, educators, philanthropists and others from around the United States with Baltimore roots to attend a three-day event in October.

Organizers envision offering guests tours, site visits, speaker panels, music and art presentations, and networking with local entrepreneurs, activists, artists and community leaders. Longer-term, such connections could lead to investments in the city as well as partnerships and philanthropy, organizers said.

Loewentheil, director of the White House Task Force for Baltimore City under President Barack Obama, said he was inspired by the annual Detroit Homecoming, which over four years has prompted former Detroit residents to start nonprofits, invest in businesses and buy buildings, according to news reports.He said he realized there’s “a reservoir of goodwill for Baltimore around the country that was not always fully utilized. …

“The goal here is to very much showcase the really amazing things happening in Baltimore to a group of people who, if they decide to get re-engaged with the city, could do cool and interesting things.

”Schapiro, CEO of Continental Realty Corp., had been looking for a way to do more for the city since the 2015 riots sparked by 25-year-old Freddie Gray’s death from injuries sustained in police custody.

“This felt like really a way to make a big difference in something that could have a long-term positive impact in the city, to help change the narrative here and around the country, and to reconnect people who’ve left Baltimore but who hold Baltimore close to their hearts,” Schapiro said.Long-term, he sees endless possibilities, such as help for an entrepreneur or a technology startup, investment in real estate, opening of training or community centers, donations to nonprofits or reconnecting with schools.“This is a way to create some opportunities for people who don’t have them,” Schapiro said.

Debbie Phelps, a host committee member who is executive director of the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools and a Federal Hill resident, has suggested guests visit a needy school in hopes of inspiring help in expanding opportunities for students.“How are we going to give all students experiences to be able to be successful?” said Phelps, the mother of swimmer Michael Phelps, history’s most decorated Olympian.

“How are we going to keep them on the right path as they transition from elementary to middle to high school? … I’m hoping the homecoming helps build teams around people and gets people together.”

“I feel that people will make an effort to participate,” she added. “You hear people talk about their love for the city.”

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, one of nine co-chairs on the host committee, said he hopes to persuade guests, who may have many choices of ways to use their talents, that Baltimore would be a good place to invest.

“If they’re going to invest their time an resources, we just want them to do it in Baltimore,” Cummings said.

“We can sit around and not do anything and hope things happen, or we can try to make them happen,” he said. “This is one of those efforts to make them happen.”Organizers hope to engage city residents in suggesting guests, and they expect to send out the first round of invitations next month. The event, planned for Oct. 3 through Oct. 5, will be funded privately by individuals, foundations and corporations.

Loewentheil, who will serve as Baltimore Homecoming’s president and CEO, said he and Schapiro began working on the idea about a year ago.

“From the beginning I felt that it would only work if it had very broad buy-in from across the city and got enough people representing enough sectors from the city in the room,” Loewentheil said. “Almost everyone we talked to thought it was a cool idea.

”More than 40 people make up the host committee, headed by nine co-chairs. Besides Charles, Scott, Plank and Cummings, co-chairs include Baltimore-born “Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen, BGE CEO Calvin G. Butler Jr., Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels, documentary filmmaker Amanda Lipitz and Wes Moore, an author, educator and CEO of the antipoverty Robin Hood Foundation.

Loewentheil described the homecoming not as a conference but as a three-day interactive event with an opening reception, visits to places that show off the city’s history, artwork and neighborhoods and possible a pitch session for local entrepreneurs.

“We want people to experience the riches of Baltimore they don’t know about if they come back and visit their mom,” he said. “There are many untold stories of great things happening in Baltimore.”