A just and equitable society in Maryland, and our future growth, well-being and economic prosperity can only be assured when everyone – of every age, race, religion, socio-economic background, gender identity, location, disability or residency status – can share fairly in a prosperous and inclusive economy without race-based or other structural barriers that impede them. 

Make Maryland’s Economy Work for Everyone 

Maryland has experienced economic growth over the past year and has achieved historically low unemployment rates, now among the lowest in the country. This gives us an opportunity to truly address the underlying inequities that are continuing to impact low-income Marylanders. Despite the strong economy and apparent easing of pandemic conditions, many families and individuals in Maryland have critical challenges with access to all aspects of health care, basic food and nutrition and housing. Inflation is affecting households, nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Housing evictions are on the rise, healthy and sustainable food access is strained and the needs of individuals facing barriers to self-sufficiency are becoming more complex to address. Mental and behavioral health needs have escalated dramatically, especially among youth where we are seeing increased rates of crime and suicide. Maryland must commit to organizing services and providing adequate resources to effectively meet these issues and needs.  We will support making any changes required to our revenue or service structures required to accomplish this in a manner equitable to all. 

As public and private employers face critical labor shortages, in an environment of near full employment, we must turn to addressing the barriers that are keeping people out of the labor force. These include housing, transportation, and child, elder and dependent care as primary issues, and secondary issues including health care, and mental health services. 

Making Systems Work for People, Not the Other Way Around 

Nonprofits across Maryland are advocating for dozens of fixes to the vast systemic problems that create barriers for prosperity and opportunity, especially for historically marginalized peoples. Even those working for governments acknowledge that our human services systems are broken and not sufficiently designed to meet today’s needs and equity gaps. Maryland Nonprofits prioritizes the intersections between systems that, if transformed, can truly make a difference in eliminating racial and ethnic disparities, increasing opportunity for people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, English language learners, people with disabilities, and other historically marginalized groups.

Advance Social and Economic Justice and Inclusion, and Improve Economic Advancement Opportunities

We can do this if we: 

  • Assure equitable access, including language access, to government benefits, services, protections and programs to every person and family in Maryland. 
  • Ensure equitable and sufficient state revenues to adequately and equitably meet the responsibilities of government and invest in communities. 
  • Protect and improve access to “safety net” programs and continue expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit & Child Tax Credit. 
  • Strengthen democracy including the building of accountable and transparent governments, representative of the people they serve. 
  • Explore and advance measures to eliminate all forms of gender-based bias in employment including compensation. Remove barriers to immigrants, returning citizens, and persons with disabilities seeking well-paid employment. 
  • Expand availability and access to affordable childcare for families. 
  • Ensure better coordination of public and private programs and efforts for workforce development and job training among academic institutions, workforce investment agencies, organized labor and job training programs.  
  • Make employment opportunities and training accessible to persons without available personal vehicles and require better coordination of state and local transit agencies. 
  • Improve financial education and restrict deceptive commercial practices and predatory loan programs.  
  • Enable birth certificate modification for trans and nonbinary people. 
Affordable Housing in Safe and Environmentally Sustainable Communities

Inadequate, unsafe or unhealthy living conditions can destabilize or disrupt employment, the education of children, physical and mental well-being, and the connection of individuals and families with community and society. The COVID-19 pandemic, wealth inequality, years of short-sighted land use and development, and market conditions have resulted in a growing housing-affordability crisis, particularly for families of color. Policymakers should:  

  • Provide Emergency Rental Assistance and Eviction Prevention Services for those still impacted by the effects of the pandemic. 
  • Establish an ongoing state-wide rental assistance program for low-income renters. 
  • Provide adequate funding for the recently created Community Development Fund. 
  • Incentivize affordable homeownership opportunities for low to medium income residents. 
  • In Allow for the diversification and densification of communities for equitable access to employment and services in all residentially and mixed-use zoned areas, particularly near transit hubs.  Increase allowance for different home styles to allow multi-generational homes, tiny homes, duplexes, tris, quads, or even up to six units.  
  • Assure that decision-making for location of potential environmental threats includes thorough health and equity assessments to reverse disproportionate negative health and economic impacts of climate change and pollution on communities with lower incomes and communities of color. Provide resources for disproportionately impacted communities in the transition to new and sustainable environmental standards.  
  • Restrict or prohibit use of harmful chemicals and pesticides, single use plastics and polystyrene. 
  • Require a plan for climate change mitigation that equably offsets the disproportional impact of climate change and pollution on vulnerable residents and communities. 
  • Strengthen enforcement of air and water quality and testing, stormwater runoff and Chesapeake Bay-protection regulations. 
  • Ensure accessible, affordable and environmentally sustainable end-to-end fiber optic broadband. 
Promoting Safe and Healthy Children and Youth, Eliminating Childhood Poverty

The growth, health, education and socialization of children and youth are critical to the future of our society. Beyond the classroom, the circumstances of poverty, housing, health care, nutrition and treatment are all important determinants of educational attainment and social development. Child welfare systems are strained to meet the needs of Maryland’s children and youth who are most vulnerable, requiring resources and systems change to address significant disparities for children of color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ youth. We support the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future in education and must also focus attention on children with special needs and the state’s child welfare system. Public policy must: 

  • Mandate free universal healthy meals at all pre-kindergarten through secondary schools and eliminate school lunch debt. 
  • Address the funding and other needs of our child welfare system and care providers, that include improving the coordination of child and family services among state agencies that intersect with child welfare and addressing disparate impact on youth of color, immigrant youth, and LGBTQIA+ youth. 
  • Support and build on the civil rights protections for students with disabilities that have begun under the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and need to be strengthened. 
  • Develop an array of treatment services for adolescents with substance use disorders, and provide drug education and prevention campaigns for tweens, teens and young adults. 
  • Provide increased funding for legal services on behalf of children by nonprofit organizations. 
  • Revise/reform standards for custody determinations involving allegations of interpersonal violence, child abuse, coercive control, and for training of custody evaluators and court-involved personnel. 
  • Judicial training on and legislative recognition of coercive control and impacts on children. 
Universal Access to Quality Health Care and Health Equity

Despite significant steps Maryland had taken to expand access to health care prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience with COVID-19 and the resulting shockingly disparate rate of mortality among communities of color demonstrated the health impacts of social and financial inequities. Health care access and public health services are critical supports to our families, communities and economy. Public policy must commit to the health and well-being of all by continuing efforts to expand access and reduce healthcare costs, including: 

  • Expanding auto-enrollment for those eligible for free health coverage and expanding health coverage subsidies to make coverage more affordable. 
  • Enabling undocumented residents to enroll in health coverage on the Maryland Health Exchange (Access to Care Act). 
  • Addressing insurance coverage barriers including copay accumulator programs and problematic preauthorization policies, to ensure access to therapies for rare and chronic conditions.  
  • Accelerating the improvement of rate-setting for developmental disabilities, substance abuse, and behavioral health providers to enable them to recruit and retain adequate staff.  
  • Increasing funding for 988, 211 and mental health crisis services. 
  • Protecting reproductive rights and choices. 
  • Funding the reduction of eligibility and service waiting lists. 
  • Addressing the nursing and healthcare provider shortages, including mental and behavioral health, and community health workers. 
  • Supporting vaccine initiatives and protections for the immunocompromised. 
  • Supporting plasma donation for the creation of therapies and removing regulatory barriers to plasma center expansion while ensuring safety. 
  • Extending flexibilities and removing barriers to telehealth and telehealth access.  
  • Assuring proper nutrition and reducing hunger by supporting food banks’ ability to procure and distribute food to our neighbors experiencing food insecurity and reforming and increasing funds for SNAP and WIC benefits. 
Protection from Injustice and Violence, and Care for Those Who Are Victimized

Public safety and justice under the law are core responsibilities of government. We must continue to address the violence, mistreatment and unfairness that remain in our communities and in our criminal justice systems as legacies of systemic of racism and societal misogyny. The level of gun violence, in businesses and our streets, and around our homes and schools is not acceptable. Victims of gun violence include the stability and future of our communities.   

  • Increasing and codifying state funding for services to victims of family violence and sexual assault. 
  • Increasing funding for free legal services and representation. 
  • Supporting and sustaining violence intervention and prevention work and addressing underlying causes of increases in crime, especially impacting youth. 
  • Improving victim compensation and family and familial services.  
  • Creating paths to hold the gun industry more accountable for wrongdoing and the violence they enable. 
  • Strengthen and restore Maryland’s limitations on assault weapons. 
  • Establish a state-level office on violence prevention. 
Strengthen the Nonprofit Sector’s Ability to Serve Maryland Communities

The over 40,000 nonprofit organizations in Maryland represent the majority of the state’s human service delivery system, often having the greatest experience dealing with and awareness of community needs. At the client or family level that nonprofits work at, the consequences of uncoordinated yet interacting agency programs or requirements are apparent. The capacity of state agencies has degraded due to inadequate staffing. Maryland state government should begin a systemic reform of our often cross-cutting systems of human services delivery, to achieve better coordination and more efficient use of both state and provider resources. Government grants and contracts must provide equitable funding that allows nonprofit providers to compete with the for-profit sector for a qualified workforce to deliver –services, and improve wages for direct support professionals. We continue to advocate for more adequate staffing of state human service agencies. 

In addition, governments should also: 

  • Provide nonprofits a systemic seat at the policymaking table and encourage public officials to recognize nonprofits as collaborative partners and critical resources in serving and meeting public needs. 
  • Proceed with comprehensive reform and standardization of government grant-making practices including through the work of the Maryland Efficient Grant Application Council, and extend the term of this body, established at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Provide funding for nonprofits as workforce development partners to support employment opportunities especially for small to mid-size nonprofits. 
  • Establish a state funding program to assist nonprofits with energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements.  
  • Assist nonprofits in increasing their technology capabilities. 

By working together, nonprofits in Maryland are advancing and protecting the public interest of the people and communities we serve. The sector has a long history of advocating to move the needle on public policy issues. Our goal is to build on this rich tradition and broaden and strengthen the sector’s societal influence and impact.

This statement of principles guides Maryland Nonprofits’ public policy activities, its Public Policy Committee, and its staff, in working with policymakers at all levels of government, with the media, and the public. The principles do not prohibit us from engaging on other issues, rather they provide six broad policy goals for the organized nonprofit sector and specific steps that define and advance each goal.


We encourage you, the nonprofit community, to adopt or support these principles in your public policy and advocacy efforts.
Promote Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the Consideration of Public Policies
Maryland’s future growth, well-being and economic prosperity can only be assured when everyone regardless of age, race, religion, socio-economic background, gender identity, location, or disability, can share in a prosperous and inclusive economy without race-based or other structural barriers that impede them.

Consideration of proposed policies, and review of current policy structures, should include the assessment of their direct and indirect impacts on the health, opportunities and quality of life of all affected individuals and communities.

Advocate for Sufficient Public Investment in our Communities.
The purpose of government is to provide for and promote the general welfare of the people. The nonprofit community, being dedicated to the same goal, should be a leader in advocating policies that recognize and support the importance of appropriate public investment in community programs and services.

  • Government budget and fiscal policies must provide sufficient resources to equitably and adequately meet this responsibility.
  • Government operations and programs should be responsive, fair, effective, efficient and accountable.
  • The system of raising adequate government revenues itself must be efficient and equitable and strive for progressivity.
Strengthen the Role and Participation of the Public in their Government.
The nonprofit sector should promote structures and policies that are conducive to effective public participation in the direction and affairs of government. The process of government must be open and subject to the control of the people and their elected representatives. Free expression is a basic right, but is meaningful only if the peoples’ voice has an effective means to be heard.

  • The actions and mechanisms of all branches of government should be transparent and accessible to ensure the public’s involvement and understanding.
  • Policy-making should be based on the input and best interests of the public and on decisions by their elected representatives. Traditionally disenfranchised groups must be supported and empowered, and the rights of vulnerable individuals must be protected.
  • Elections must be conducted in a manner to promote and permit the fullest possible participation by voters, and to assure confidence that the people’s will rather than limited interests will govern election results and the actions of those elected.
  • The public’s engagement with all aspects of government process must be encouraged.
Promote and Strengthen the Nonprofit Sector's Relationship with Government.
Nonprofit organizations have traditionally performed a significant role in providing services to the public, complementing government programs or addressing needs not met by government action. Nonprofits also play a major part in implementing government programs or providing services on behalf of government. In addition, the nonprofit sector is a significant and growing force in the state’s overall economy. Nonprofits are responsible for more than 10% of private jobs in Maryland, employing more than 250,000 workers at the end of 2016. Public policies should acknowledge and strengthen this relationship, and recognize the nonprofit sector as an important factor in the state’s economic life.

  • State contracting procedures should facilitate and not impede the efficient delivery of government services provided by nonprofits, and should sufficiently fund contracts for services.
  • Economic development strategies, including programs to promote business and employment development, should recognize and include the nonprofit sector and the people and communities they represent.
  • Tax policies that support and promote the charitable and nonprofit sector in the delivery of services and benefits to the public must be preserved.
  • Public policies should protect and promote the integrity of “charitable” and “nonprofit” activities.
Increase Philanthropy and Volunteerism in Maryland.
Public policy should recognize and support the important role of private philanthropy and volunteer service in improving the lives of Maryland citizens and the quality of life in the State.

  • Existing incentives for private philanthropy should be preserved.
  • New methods to effectively and efficiently promote charitable giving and volunteer service should be examined and implemented.
  • Government and the business and nonprofit communities should collaborate in developing effective programs to support philanthropy and volunteerism.
Broaden the Involvement and Increase the Effectiveness of Nonprofits as Advocates for the People and Communities they Serve.
People form and support nonprofit organizations to assist individuals, to improve their communities, and to provide a more effective voice for their concerns in the public policy arena. Advocacy is an important and natural role for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits are often the most, or only, effective means to educate the public on the actions of government and to voice the peoples’ views and concerns on public issues. Nonprofit advocacy is critical in preserving public confidence in the policy-making process.

  • The nonprofit sector and its supporters must encourage greater participation by individual organizations as policy advocates for people and communities.
  • The capacity of nonprofits to educate, represent and lead their constituencies on policy issues should be strengthened.
  • Nonprofits should educate and encourage the public to participate in policy advocacy through effective nonprofit and community-based efforts.
  • Challenges or impediments to the advocacy role of nonprofit organizations must be opposed and overcome at all levels of government.
  • The public and the nonprofit community should be effectively represented on appropriate boards, commissions, councils and similar bodies established by government.

Use this form to share your advocacy efforts and public policy concerns with our staff.