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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:

Nominate

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.”

lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com