Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board

Philanthropic Literacy Board Logo
Uniting students' growing understanding of the critical issues facing the Baltimore community with the opportunity to effect positive change, the Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board (PLB) is one of many programs our students can engage in as a means of leading for the greater good in the world around them.Participants on this board are the decision-makers who oversee the grant proposal process, defining their mission and evaluating applications from Baltimore-area organizations.
Student board members research the local organizations and then develop a Request for Proposals that they send to those organizations. PLB members then evaluate applicants and choose which organizations they feel should be awarded the funds. Organizations that have been awarded funds in previous years are invited back to help the PLB members understand the impact of the PLB’s award on the organization’s work. 

2022 Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board Announcement

Grant applications are now open!

Philanthropic Literacy Board Mission Statement


Apply now

Deadline for applications is March 3, 2022. You will be notified by April 1, 2022 of the grant decisions. 

The 2021 Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board presents their grant to the executive director Andrea Brown and consultant Nia Jones of the Black Mental Health Alliance.

2021 Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board Announcement

Roland Park Country School’s student-run Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board is pleased to announce that the Black Mental Health Alliance is the recipient of this year's grant. 
Despite hurdles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board worked diligently to determine the recipients of the 2021 grant money. In the fall, students defined their area of focus, crafted a mission statement, and began researching organizations that might be a good fit for the grant money. After winter break the students doubled their efforts, creating the board’s first ever logo and electronic application form. After finalizing their organization research and outreach, the 2021 Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board received the most applications in a single year in the history of the program. Students carefully reviewed and presented each application to the whole board, then discussed and debated what would be the best use of their grant money. 

“The RPCS Philanthropic Literacy Board 2021 mission statement is to assist Baltimore City's Black youth by providing funds for mental health resources," said board member Camille Lawson, 2021. "The Board first met following a summer of nationwide social justice efforts and concerns about Wellness in the Black community was at the forefront of our minds. Members on the board were in agreement about focusing our mission statement this year around this issue.” 
"We chose this focus because we wanted to benefit our Baltimore community," said board member Grace Sarkar, 2021. "We agreed that our concentration should revolve around young adults because aiding the next generation is essential to positively impacting any society. In a year with so much pain and uncertainty, mental health resources and education are integral. It is important that everyone has an outlet to maintain their well-being because, as the common saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.” 
The Black Mental Health Alliance will use the funds to help launch their My Mind is Art program. 
In their grant application, the Black Mental Health Alliance wrote: 
In response to the emotional and mental distress experienced during the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA) will create programming where art therapy plays an evidence-based role in improving the mental health and wellness of Black children. 
Involvement in the arts can help manage mental health conditions trigged by stress, trauma, and grief, as well as offer support for long-term recovery and stability. The My Mind is Art program will be led by clinicians artists, writers, and musicians who deliver health benefits through participation in their artistic activities. 
The My Mind is Art program will include visual and performing arts, traditional craft, digital art, dance, spoken word, creative writing and storytelling, film, literature, music, singing, rap/hip hop, gardening and creative landscaping, and a special segment in the culinary arts. There will be an arts based activity each month the will lead to the participating youth to:
  • Gain insight and self-awareness through the creative process
  • Process feelings and release emotions through artistic expression
  • Reduce stress and anxiety in a healthy and productive manner in a safe environment
  • Receive psycho-education about mental health disorders, trauma, post-traumatic stress, and grief
“We are hopeful that the Black Mental Health Alliance’s My Mind is Art Program will be a great success," said board member Caroline Adams, 2021. "The 2022 Philanthropic Literacy Board will be eager to hear about the program’s rollout and outcomes.” 
Founded in the fall of 2017, the Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board at RPCS has supported the following organizations: The 2020 board sought grant applications from organizations focused on protecting local bodies of water (the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay) and/or focused on providing effective and easily accessible environmental education for Baltimore City residents. The 2020 grant recipients were Environment Maryland and Phillips Wharf Environmental Center.
The 2019 board sought grant applications from organizations supporting youth wellness by providing after school community resources for Baltimore City Youth.  The 2019 grant recipients were Bridges at Gilman SchoolThe Club at Collington Square, and Parks & People Foundation.
The 2018 board sought grant applications from organizations focused on empowering women and children who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The 2018 grant recipient was House of Ruth

Students work with Head of School Caroline Blatti on a PLB grant proposal. 

The Smith philanthropic literacy board endowment fund

PLB Smith Family


The Smith Philanthropic Literacy Board Endowment Fund was established and endowed by Cheryl Bernard-Smith and Chip Smith P’24 in 2018 as part of the This is Our Moment Campaign. The funds from this endowment support the student run organization that administers grants annually using the interest generated by the endowment. Each year, students choose a topic, research the topic, solicit requests for proposals and evaluate applicants before ultimately selecting an organization that best fits that year’s criteria. Students also learn about the composition of non-profits and their revenue streams as part of the program. 

“Chip and I strongly believe in the value of connecting with our local and broader communities and giving back in whatever ways we can. We were excited to support the Philanthropic Literacy Board to not only help cultivate the leadership capacity of the students at RPCS, but also to encourage opportunities for learning at an early age how thoughtful decision making can truly change our world for the better.” – Cheryl Bernard Smith, P’24