Amid the modern high-rise buildings in Baltimore’s Charles Plaza stands an older vision for tall architecture: the 21-story former headquarters of Baltimore Gas & Electric at 39 West Lexington Street. Built in 1916, the stately neoclassical structure boasts elaborate marble carvings, terra cotta cornices, and ornate metalwork. The building was converted into apartments in the early 2000s. Part of the ground floor, originally the spot where BG&E customers paid their bills, is now home to the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center.

The center is a non-profit organization with the mission to recognize and respect the contributions of Maryland women. The Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame, as well as the Unsung Heroines program, honors the women of diverse backgrounds across the state that shaped their families and communities. The first comprehensive state center of its kind in the nation, it serves as a model that can be replicated and adapted by other states.

In 2015, the center received a $10,000 BNHA Heritage Investment grant for operational support. Operational support grants strategically target modest funding to stabilize small organizations and afford them the ability to build a foundation for future success.

The grant supported staffing to accomplish a variety of goals, including the development of membership and donor programs and related advocacy materials; outreach at the 2016 Women of the World Conference; and the coordination of volunteers collecting “HerStory” oral histories.

“Operational grants are critical, but are exceedingly rare in today’s philanthropic environment,” said Diana Bailey, executive director of the center. “The Heritage Investment grant has been key to the center, which is largely driven by a small but dedicated group of volunteers. This ‘shot in the arm’ has definitely put us in a place where we can continue to build the health and viability of the center.”