Why We Do It

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The purpose of IW and the work we do is best understood when we examine the context within which we exist in Baltimore City. Decades of redlining and racially motivated policies have left many predominantly Black neighborhoods in Baltimore lacking adequate resources and investment to provide support for their community members. Social entrepreneurship is one way to address such challenges.

Learn About Our Context

A presentation by Seema Iyer about population decline over numerous decades and the historical and cultural implications of population on the racial divide in Baltimore City

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An interactive exhibit, workshop series, and set of curriculum that explores the history of structural racism, inequality, and redlining

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A data profile developed by Prosperity Now to better understand how racial economic inequality affects Baltimore

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An article by Acumen Academy that explains what social entrepreneurship is and why it is an important method for catalyzing social change

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Our Mission

The mission of Innovation Works Baltimore is to reduce Baltimore’s neighborhood and racial wealth divide by supporting and accompanying leaders of social enterprises working to create sustainable neighborhood economies.

IW’s values are inspired by our founding journey and relationship with the Jesuits

Our Values


We meet community members where they are


Each person, no matter their circumstance, has leadership potential. We equip social
innovation leaders with the tools and resources they need to build a future for Baltimore
where one’s zip code does not determine their life outcomes.


Work is fundamental to the dignity of the person


Baltimore’s entrepreneurs can create grassroots, national models of quality, livable, urban community solutions

For the Greater Good

We encourage social entrepreneurs to see opportunity as more than about income

Our History

Illustration of Baltimore City Skyline with the history of Innovation Works' work starting in 2017 with the creation of a program supporting

June 2016 – September 2017

IW Founder Frank Knott and local Jesuit leaders complete initial due diligence for IW founding

Strategic partnership between IW and Miller Center is developed, 3-year launch plan is approved by IW board, and initial seed capital grants from Maryland Jesuits (now Jesuits USA East) and other founding funders are approved

October 2017 – December 2018

January 2019

IW launches operations

IW launches first formal social enterprise development programs with a 3-day Boost workshop and 6-month Accelerator

June 2019 – December 2019

February 2020

Ignite Capital is incorporated and first funding commitments are received from Jesuit MD Province

Ignite Capital makes first investments & hosts first Investor Showcase

March 2020 – June 2020

January 2021

IW launches first industry tailored accelerator in partnership with Transform Lexington to prepare vendors for the new Lexington Market

IW announces first 3 strategic Initiatives focused on the Natural Dye, Urban Wood, and Manufacturing industries

February 2021

July 2021

Ignite Capital completes first full year of operations with capital deployed to 10 social enterprises