The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation exists through the generosity of Robert Deutsch and Florence Kadish Deutsch, who believed in giving back to the community, supporting education, and helping others throughout their lives.
Robert W. Deutsch was born in New York City in 1924 to a family of modest means. Robert earned a degree in physics from M.I.T in 1948 and completed his doctoral degree in physics in 1953 at UC Berkeley. Florence Kadish’s family fled Poland in 1938 for New York City. Florence and Bob married in 1949. The couple settled in Baltimore in 1964. In 1968, Dr. Deutsch launched his career as an entrepreneur by founding General Physics Corporation, which would become the leading provider of training programs for operating personnel in the nation’s nuclear power plants. While most consultants would talk to the CEO, Deutsch’s approach was to roll up his sleeves, talk to those on ground level, and get suggestions from them on how to improve the company.
In 1988, Dr. Deutsch left General Physics and founded RWD Technologies, a company focused on the IT revolution that was transforming the way companies manufactured products, managed their business operations, and communicated with their suppliers and customers.
Throughout his career, Dr. Deutsch remained true to his commitment to invest in the education, training, and development of people, and to promote innovative thinking and solutions for complex problems in the workplace.
Formed in 1991, the Deutsch Foundation was quite small for its first 15 years, but grew tenfold following the sale of the family-owned business. The Foundation looked at what it could contribute significantly to the vitality and revitalization of Baltimore—assets in which others were not investing. It became clear that investing in the emerging innovation, arts, and creative economy in Baltimore would have the greatest impact.
Florence and Robert were extraordinarily generous in a very private and unassuming way. While much has changed over the years, their vision and values are still embedded in the heart of the foundation.
The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation invests in innovative people, projects, and ideas that improve the quality of life in Baltimore and beyond.
Asking the right questions
The Deutsch Foundation realized that Baltimore attracts amazing young creatives. Whether working in tech, science, social justice, or the arts, the whole city’s creative economy is fueled by these individuals coming and wanting to stay. The problem? Their contributions were not being recognized and their needs were not being supported. So the foundation asked—what can we do that would have a major impact? They talked with these young creatives, asking them three questions: Why are you here? What do you need to be more successful? What would make you leave? They learned what attracts, retains, and the barriers that push them out. One big takeaway was the need for quality places to work, create, perform, and showcase what they do.
Developing the creative economy
Creatives are often pushed out of communities once the area becomes exciting to developers. The only way to counter that is to buy, develop, and sustain facilities, but foundations don’t do that. We decided to incubate and launch BARCO, a nonprofit arts real estate development corporation. For every dollar the Deutsch Foundation puts in, BARCO raises or secures two or three, dedicated to developing the creative economy. The Deutsch Foundation sees Baltimore’s cultural sector as a creative ecosystem where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Collaboration, influence, and access allow people to come together and grow together, whether through community spaces, creative hubs, art education, public art, or more. The overall goal in funding smaller organizations and projects is to attract and retain emerging talent, for artists and activists to have jobs, and for organizations to grow and hire staff. The longer term impact is to revitalize Baltimore as a thriving, healthy, and growing creative community.
Investing early and taking a hands-on approach
The Robert W. Deutsch Foundation operates differently than many other philanthropic organizations. Most of our grants go for general operating support and capacity building. It’s hardest for organizations to raise money to keep the lights on as opposed to an exciting special project. We try to place as few barriers as possible in front of grantees. Additionally, many foundations will not fund newer organizations until they have several years of financials. In this context, the Deutsch Foundation decided to essentially become “Angel Investors,” and create greater access to early stage funding, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and to intellectual, financial, and collaborative resources. Our key decision-makers are deeply involved in Baltimore’s communities. We want to be able to rapidly respond when a need is dire. Since we are not limited by an overly bureaucratic process, we can be nimble, flexible, and responsive. The Deutsch Foundation stays closely engaged with the people we support, from the earliest stages to the point when they attract funding from other sources. We see great value, come in early, take the risk, and help innovators to be successful. We are determined to “go to where the silence is.”
Addressing racial inequity
At the Deutsch Foundation, we bring a lens of racial equity—an understanding and acknowledgement of historical and ongoing racial inequities and a commitment to actions challenging those inequities—to our grant making, priority setting process, programming, and strategic planning.
Because of our commitment to a racially just and equitable Baltimore and beyond, we are working intentionally and collaboratively to:
Build pathways to increase access to financial and human capital among organizations and communities most affected by inequities, and to amplify those voices;
Foster ongoing dialogue through deep partnerships with anti-racist and anti-oppression practitioners to explore key concepts including cultural, structural, and institutional racism, white privelage, and racial equity, especially with regard to context of place.
Our commitment to racial equity requires ongoing reflection and action. We see emergence and adaptation as core to our approach as we encounter new perspectives and additional information; as such, this statement is "living" and will continue to evolve as we gain new understandings.
Focusing on Baltimore
The Deutsch Foundation is hyper-local. We focus on Baltimore because the money we distribute was made here, because the needs are massive, and because Baltimore has exciting potential. The city’s history as an entrepreneurial hub and its contributions as a creative leader are significant, but our former prominence in 19th and 20th century industry has been lost. Now that we are a 21st century city, we need to participate in a new, creative economy. The Deutsch Foundation sees its role as providing seed funding to create and sustain human capital—helping the inspiring change-makers here do what they do best.
President and Executive Director
Jane has been guiding the foundation’s grant making and operations since 1995. Previously she worked as an editor, writer and journalist, as managing editor of Baltimore Magazine, and a features editor for the Baltimore Sun. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park, SUNY Stony Brook and The University of Santa Monica.
LAURENS “MAC” MACLURE
Mac is Managing Director of the Baltimore Arts Realty Corporation. Previously he was President and CEO of RWD Technologies and held a number of management positions at Pioneer EyeCare and PHH Corporation. Mac is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law and Bucknell University.
David recently retired from a career as a high school mathematics teacher. Previously, he had worked as a software engineer specializing in simulation software. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland College Park and Boston University. David lives in Newton Centre, MA, where he studies guitar and Spanish, and frequently travels the world.
Chief Operating Officer
Neil joined the foundation staff in 2010. He spent many years raising money for colleges and universities including MIT, Duke Medical Center, and the University of Baltimore. He received degrees from Haverford College and Duke University.
Billy joined the foundation in 2015. He has worked in international environmental grant making, and also co-owns and operates Crooked Fence Farm in Baltimore County. He graduated from Dartmouth College with degrees in Environmental Science and Chinese.
Jessica joined the Deutsch Foundation leadership team in 2017. In her role she is sharpening the Foundation’s place-based grantmaking strategies, developing new programmatic initiatives, and deepening institutional knowledge to ensure more equitable impact across Baltimore. Prior, Jessica led Art in Praxis - a national consultancy applying creative practices to organizational development. Jessica is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park and American University where she earned a Masters of Science in Organization Development.
KHADIJA NIA ADELL
Khadija is a curator, arts administrator, equitable education advocate, and multimedia artist whose work utilizes sculpture/textiles, digital media, performance, text and collage to explore the fractal narratives of the African Diaspora. She received her BFA in Interdisciplinary Sculpture and Art History from MICA in 2015 and is a former UALP Arts Fellow with the Mayor’s Office of Baltimore City--where she curated the exhibition With These Hands: Artifacts of the Enslaved People at Mount Clare. In 2017 Khadija served as the inaugural Program Coordinator for the North Avenue Knowledge Exchange- an NEA funded community based free education program.
FRANK J. KNOTT
Senior Advisor for Community Economic Development
Frank’s experience spans more than 40 years and encompasses serving as both a successful entrepreneur and a volunteer leader of regional community economic development initiatives. For the past 25 years, he has initiated and/or participated in a number of regional and national public-private partnerships in the areas of economic development, workforce training, education reform, at-risk youth empowerment, rural and urban economic policy, and information highway initiatives. He advises the Deutsch Foundation in developing community economic development initiatives in Baltimore.
Sonja Cendak is an arts professional with over 15 years experience in program management, exhibition design, and nonprofit administration. In her role at the Foundation, she values providing direct support to artists navigating the grant process. She has previously worked at the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Sonja holds a B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from the University of California, Riverside.
LESLIE KING HAMMOND
Leslie joined the Deutsch Foundation as a Senior Fellow in 2014, working as a liaison and curator with artists and arts organizations at The Motor House while maintaining an independent consulting, curating, and arts advocacy practice throughout the country. She is a graduate of the City University of New York, Queens College and The Johns Hopkins University.
DR. KIMBERLY RICHARDS
Dr. Kimberley Richards is an organizer and trainer with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. She holds a Masters’ in Education Administration from Westminster College and a doctorate in Policy, Planning & Evaluation from the University of Pittsburgh. Her graduate and post-graduate work centered on internalizing an anti-racist analysis within the fields of community-based organizing, program planning, development and evaluation.
Jen is an artist who brings her passion for collaborative public projects and a critical inquiry of the “maker movement” to her Deutsch Foundation fellowship. A former Baltimore Corps fellow at Digital Harbor Foundation and MICA graduate, Jen is focused on the intersection of maker culture with education, career development, and equity. Her practice is grounded as a resident artist at Open Works, where she builds partnerships within and beyond the local creative community through collaborations with Make: Magazine, Tested.com, Made In Baltimore, Nation of Makers, and others.
Lu is a multi-disciplinary artist, researcher, and organizer who works in installation, sculpture, drawing, and text—often in response to a chosen site. Lu is the former Deputy Director of The Contemporary in Baltimore, where she built resource initiatives for artists. She has collaborated with ICA Baltimore, PressPress, and SPARE to produce publications and exhibitions and with the George Peabody Library to launch a studio residency program.
DENISE SHANTE BROWN
Denise is a designer and advocate for the mental and emotional wellbeing of oppressed communities. She received her BFA in Graphic Design at The Art Institute of Atlanta in 2012 and a MA in Social Design from MICA in 2017. As a Deutsch Fellow, she will expand the vision of her work, placing the love, recovery, and celebration of Black women at the center.
Savannah Wood is an artist and cultural organizer with deep roots in Baltimore and Los Angeles. Through her work with LA-based arts organization Clockshop, and Theaster Gates Studio in Chicago, Savannah has had the opportunity to work with incredible archives, interpreting their contents for the wider public. She has recently relocated to Baltimore to create programming and infrastructure that will increase access to the Afro-American Newspapers’ extensive archives.