Innovative Program by Baltimore Non-profit Strengthens Business Community

“WTCI announces recruiting for new cohort of Bowe Fellows”

Our strategic investment in one of Baltimore’s longstanding not-for-profit business organizations has created a meaningful ripple effect in the Baltimore economy, strengthened the international business landscape and provided new opportunities for international business professionals in Maryland. Baltimore needs continued investment in our business infrastructure, and local non-profits and foundations can play an important role in strengthening that infrastructure.

When we started a family foundation ten years ago, our goal was to expand economic opportunities in our hometowns of Baltimore and Chicago.   Like many before us, we wanted to “give back” from the fruits of a lifetime of hard work and good fortune.  Through trial and error, we learned the importance of having a strategic partner, a shared vision for success and the value of a multi-year commitment.  Our founding investment in the World Trade Center Institute’s international business education program for mid-level executives met those criteria and has yielded exceptional results.

Barbara Stewart and Peter Bowe

A long term board level involvement with WTCI gave us a deep appreciation for its strengths but also for its growth opportunities. We knew the Chicago Council on Global Affairs had a highly respected multi-year executive education program that we thought could be adapted here. After studying that program, we pitched the WTCI leadership team on the idea of starting something similar. Our goal was to strengthen Baltimore’s international business community.

This concept was a big leap for WTCI from an event-based business model to tuition programs. It wasn’t an obvious step. What clinched the deal was our commitment, new to our foundation, to a multi-year funding source while the idea took hold. This justified dedicated staff recruitment to run the new program. The new WTCI program has become a leading MidAtlantic executive education program, and now boasts close to 200 “Bowe Fellow” alumni. Significantly, about two-thirds of them have earned promotions since participating.

In no small way the success of our investment was the result of WTCI’s talented leadership team which explicitly embraced our vision. The multi-year financial commitment and a strong leadership team as partner were the key ingredients. We also had a clear mutual understanding of what success would look like in terms of metrics. Now major firms like UnderArmour, Stanley Black & Decker, McCormick, and T Rowe Price compete for slots in the program, and program graduates have become valued WTCI board members. WTCI is now recruiting a ninth cohort of Bowe Fellows.  Very significantly the program’s success has attracted other donors to fund additional niche education programs which combined now generate much of WTCI’s operating income, and have expanded WTCI’s reach and local impact.

Our Foundation’s investment in Baltimore has been satisfying and the learning process gratifying.  Additional partnerships between business focused non-profits and philanthropy could further strengthen Baltimore businesses, both large and small, help create jobs
 here in Maryland, and improve the business climate.

Peter Bowe and Barbara Stewart, husband and wife, are founders of the Peter Bowe and Bowe Stewart Foundation. Previously Bowe was CEO of Baltimore-based Ellicott Dredges, and Stewart was the CEO of AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism. Their foundation funds organizations that strive to strengthen civic education and close the opportunity gap.