Every year the Open Society Institute-Baltimore surveys the field of innovative, proactive residents in our city who are trying to improve the community with a beloved-if-scrappy project and gives 10 of them a vote of confidence and a $60,000 leg up.

OSI-Baltimore announced its new Community Fellows yesterday, with each receiving $60,000 over the course of 18 months.

Among those receiving grants was Dr. LaMarr D. Shields.

“Competition was fierce,” said Diana Morris, director of OSI-Baltimore, explaining that the purpose of the program is not necessarily to start new nonprofits—though that is sometimes the result—but to give the fellows an “eighteen month period of experimentation.”

Started in 1998, the Community Fellows represent an “open valve,” Morris said. “They were never linked directly to our other priorities.” OSI-Baltimore, as an organization, specifically focuses on education and youth, governance and accountability, health, media, and rights and justice. This year, all of the fellows arguably fall into those categories with their projects, but that has not always been the case.