Partner Spotlight: Baltimore Community Toolbank

(Header photo by Taduuda on Unsplash)

The Baltimore Community ToolBank stewards an impressive inventory of tools to strengthen and celebrate our shared community. Gone are the days when your volunteers stand around waiting for an extra shovel or rake to be able to jump in and help. Now—whether it’s the school playground, a church garden or an abandoned lot that needs some extra attention—community partners have access to enough tools and equipment to focus on their important work in service to others.

The Baltimore Community ToolBank is part of a national movement. Established under the guidance of ToolBank USA in June 2012, the Baltimore ToolBank was the third affiliate to open its doors to the community. Today, 9 city-based ToolBanks sling #ToolsForChange in communities from coast to coast. In addition, a mobile unit deploys to disaster areas in the domestic US in times of need.

The heart of the Toolbank's operations is its tool-lending program. Tools are available for rent at pennies on the dollar to non-profit organizations of all stripes and sizes. By minimizing upfront cost, maintenance concerns, and the need for storage space, Toolbank tools--rented at 3% of the retail value of the tool borrowed per week--allow non-profits to focus on their core mission work, not whether or not they have enough tables for an event or sourcing enough rakes and shovels for a park clean-up event.

In addition to "slinging tools," as Executive Director Noah Smock puts it, the Baltimore Community Toolbank has undertaken several environmental initiatives, including an extensive stormwater factory behind their warehouse location in Pigtown that generated more than 500,000 gallons of stormwater in 2016 and was used to wash 2,433 tools. (Fun fact: the Toolbank turned on a faucet exactly zero times in 2016 to wash tools!)

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The Toolbank is run with a small staff (just three folks) and an impressive cohort of volunteers (over 700 in 2016 alone), but is able to use their small size for outsized impact. Toolbank tools went into the hands of an estimated 38,000 volunteers across the Baltimore region in 2016, supporting hundreds of projects large and small. 

If you are a non-profit in the Baltimore area interested in joining the Toolbank for your own upcoming projects, you can learn more about joining at the Baltimore Community Toolbank website. Toolbank membership is open to non-profit organizations only (not individuals), and proof of an organization's charitable mission will be requested. 

If you are interested in supporting the Toolbank, you can donate on their website, or check out one of their upcoming events. The Toolbank also welcomes most tool donations; contact the organization for more information.

The ToolBank stewards an inventory of tools for lending to charitable organizations to increase the impact of their mission-related efforts in the community. The ToolBank strives to be the premier tool lending resource, serving all charitable organizations in its metropolitan area. The Helen J. Serini Foundation is proud to partner with the Baltimore Community Toolbank to support this work.