Coming Soon: Howard County Consolidated Human Services Center

Howard County has budgeted to create a nonprofit center in Columbia in 2017. The basic model is a physical facility that accommodates several nonprofit organizations in order to share resources and provide better service to the community. As a leader several years ago on the board of the Association of Community Services, I was a strong advocate for making this happen.

In Maryland, Baltimore City, Carroll County, and Montgomery County have nonprofit centers. “Thriving communities, better social services for more people, new civic infrastructure, and successful models for public and private partnerships are just some of the benefits when nonprofit organizations co-locate and share resources,” according to the Nonprofit Centers Network.

by Allan H. Kittleman (County Executive) – April 18, 2016

BudgetHousing and Community Services

Our efforts to avoid service silos will be enhanced by the creation of a Nonprofit Center, where the County’s front-line human service organizations will be housed under one roof. This budget includes $510,000 to support the creation of the Nonprofit Center, which will help consolidate services, increase collaboration among agencies, improve the efficiency of space and enhance the visibility of service providers. Many nonprofit agencies serving vulnerable populations in the County have hoped for such a center for at least two decades.

by Fatimah Waseem (Howard County Times) – May 26, 2016

A multi-year plan to create a new nonprofit center to house human service organizations under one roof prompted a last-minute amendment to increase assurances about the long-term sustainability of the project.

The Council unanimously voted to freeze funding until the county administration, the Association of Community Services, the Howard County Housing Commission and tenant organizations create a memorandum of understanding to address the nonprofits groups’ concerns about the model’s long-term sustainability and the administration’s overall financial commitment.

The agreement, if approved by the County Council, would provide assurance that the county will commit at least $210,000 per year in rent subsidies. This year’s budget also includes one-time startup costs of $300,000.

The commission will act as the master lease owner of the center while the Association of Community Services, a major community service organization, takes a defined leadership role. Tenants would enter into multi-year lease agreements and costs that cover items like technology expenses would be shared.

Fox said requiring the council to approve a memorandum attempts to “chase a moving target.” The legislative process required to adopt the memorandum could “jeopardize” the agreement with the landlord, according to Tom Carbo, the commission’s director.


The Association of Community Services (ACS) is a dynamic network of 100+ Howard County member organizations and individuals serving more than 100,000 Howard County families and individuals. . . . The mission of ACS is to develop, support, and promote the Howard County nonprofit community with education and training, advocacy, and community connections.

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Progress Report: ACS is working with the Howard County Housing Commission in developing a nonprofit center located in central Columbia that will accommodate as many as 12 nonprofits. The goal is to improve access and coordination of services. We hope to open by early 2017.

Statement of Purpose: Bringing services together to build stronger individuals, stronger families and a stronger community

A Human Services Center in Howard County would:

  • Improve service delivery – accessibility and coordination of services
  • Elevate the capacity of Howard County human service organizations to meet the needs of the community
  • Improve the operating efficiencies of nonprofit organizations and service providers

Feasibility Study Outcome: The results of the feasibility study indicated there is strong interest in a center that:

  • Reduces barriers for low-income and foreign-born families
  • where organizations can operate more collaboratively and efficiently
  • promotes the health and wellness of all Howard County residents.
Nonprofit Center, Association of Community Services General Meeting - Nov 2014
Nonprofit Center, Association of Community Services General Meeting – Nov 2014

Tenancy Model: Space and Users

  • Anchor Space: 3+ organizations identified with separate entrances, direct service and administrative offices
  • Office Space: administrative space (offices and/or workstations), use of shared direct service space and conference rooms
  • Program Space: counseling rooms located near reception with flexible scheduling for part-time use
  • Common Space: shared conference rooms, meeting and event space, kitchen, copy/mail room, storage, hot-desk

Shared Services Identified

  • IT
  • Fundraising
  • Accounting
  • HR
  • Communications
  • Professional Development
  • Administration
  • Intake/referral


Our mission is to increase the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector by supporting the development and ongoing operations of multi-tenant nonprofit centers and other quality nonprofit workspace.

Blog: Nonprofits are Changing How They Work
by Lara Jakubowski, Executive Director – November 23, 2015

Today’s nonprofits are changing how they work. And, in general, shared spaces are compelling for an evolving workforce that expects flexibility and fluidity from and between their work and personal worlds. Mission-driven shared spaces provide nonprofit organizations and individuals with just that and much more.

Nonprofit Centers Network members aggregate markets by bringing nonprofits together, whether they are focused on serving a specific population or organized around a central theme.  To boot, the “secret sauce” of mission-driven shared spaces is the high level of productivity that comes from serendipitous collisions. Together, our members create centers of gravity where savvy nonprofits want to locate and where their employees want to work.

If cities are “inexhaustible source of ideas” then nonprofit shared spaces are the same for the nonprofit community.  The value derived from spaces like Al Sigl (Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Rochester NYlies in the exchange of information and ideas that comes with breaking free of silos and becoming highly connected through person-to-person networks.


Published by

Harry Schwarz

Nicknamed “The Professor” by his colleagues, Harry is a native Marylander who moved to Columbia in 2001. Harry’s wife, Cathy, is a Columbia acupuncturist and the family includes two college-age children, a dog and a cat. Harry is a partner with BearsolutionsLLC, assisting charter school authorizers to provide effective financial oversight. He is underemployed at this time and welcomes conversation about how he might help you.

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