Morgan State University, in partnership with the City of Baltimore, has announced the creation of Open Access Baltimore, a free one-stop-shop online portal for student and community food entrepreneurs to find and utilize local resources for capital, permitting and licensing, and training that will help them plan, launch, and grow their businesses. The program is patterned after early efforts in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
Open Access Baltimore was originally developed by Food & Society at the Aspen Institute as part of its Open Access initiative, which aims to help food entrepreneurs navigate through and over the many challenges to financing and business ownership. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and after an 18-month interview and scoping process, the team created the open-source web code available at no cost to cities and other organizations to launch portals to help food entrepreneurs in their communities.
At Morgan, the initiative will be overseen as a collaboration between the School of Engineering and the School of Education and the Urban Studies Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.
“Baltimore is a food city. However, historically some residents have faced barriers to entering the food entrepreneurial space. Morgan State is proud to help alleviate some of these barriers and host Open Access Baltimore” said Celeste Chavis, interim associate dean of Undergraduate Studies for the School of Engineering.
“Helping individuals to live life well is a universally desired outcome in present society, and programs like Open Access Baltimore can serve as a conduit to this goal, by leveraging the creativity of disenfranchised people in Baltimore and providing them with the resources to become entrepreneurs in the food industry,” said Jacqueline M. Holland, associate professor and chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Morgan. “The implementation and availability of targeted programs like Open Access will positively impact the city and the communities represented. The benefits will be transformative, empowering generations.”