Catalyst Magazine
“Programs like UMB CURE Scholars need investors, they need mentors — there are lots of different ways for businesses, organizations, and individuals to get involved,” says Ellin & Tucker CEO Edwin “Ed” Brake. Photo Courtesy of Ellin & Tucker

Why Ellin & Tucker’s Ed Brake Believes in Baltimore and UMB’s CURE Scholars

Ellin & Tucker achieved a major milestone in February when it celebrated its 75th anniversary. Since its founding in 1946, the firm has been located in Baltimore and will remain so for years to come, a commitment that was made to its late founder, Lester Ellin, when he retired. In 2016, the accounting and business consulting firm relocated to 400 E. Pratt St., a move that was made to support the city’s efforts to expand Baltimore’s Central Business District.

But Ellin & Tucker’s unwavering commitment to Baltimore goes much further than just having a downtown address. The firm provides a platform for its employees to make a positive impact on the community where they live and work. Through its Giving Back Committee, Ellin & Tucker organizes community service events, donation drives, and fundraisers to benefit causes and organizations throughout the region.

The CEO, Edwin “Ed” Brake, who has been with the firm since 1982, echoes the company’s dedication to Baltimore, consistently pledging his time to revitalize the city and the downtown community in particular through lasting volunteer efforts and advocacy. It’s a value that was instilled in him by Ellin & Tucker co-founder Ed Tucker. Tucker never relented in his view that it was a civic duty to serve the community, whether through volunteering, charity, advocating on behalf of others, or, in the case of Brake, serving in leadership roles for local nonprofits. Brake serves on the executive committee of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB), a nonprofit devoted to fostering a more vibrant and welcoming downtown community. As a member of DPOB’s executive committee and chair of its safety committee, he’s known for seeking out innovative, results-oriented solutions to the city’s problems.

Brake’s Introduction to CURE Scholars

Ellin & Tucker’s focus on serving the community to build a stronger Baltimore has always inspired Brake. In his view, it can’t be done in a silo or by one person. It takes a team of business leaders with the wisdom and experience to carry out a long-term approach that delivers results to make a difference.

One such leader who is focused on making that difference is Brake’s longtime friend, Edward St. John, the founder of St. John Properties. A lifelong advocate for the region, St. John supports a wide range of educational programs that aim to create lasting pathways for success through the Edward St. John Foundation. Though he says Ellin & Tucker has always given generously, Brake realized just how much more was possible after seeing the work being done by St. John’s foundation.

As fate would have it, a colleague of Brake’s was already working on a program specifically designed to use education as an avenue for change. Jay A. Perman, MD, now chancellor of the University System of Maryland, served with Brake on the DPOB board when Perman was president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). He introduced Brake to the UMB CURE Scholars Program, a groundbreaking year-round pipeline program that prepares sixth- to 12th-grade students attending public schools in West Baltimore for competitive and rewarding cancer research, STEM, and health care career opportunities.

Brake and Ellin & Tucker are major philanthropic supporters of the UMB CURE Scholars Program and UMB’s community engagement work in West Baltimore.

‘Everyone Has to Do Their Part’

Beginning in sixth grade, cohorts of 25 UMB CURE Scholars spend Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, as well as all day Saturday and much of the summer, working in UMB labs, mentored by talented UMB graduate students. In addition to high-level curriculum and hands-on research, the program provides life-skills development workshops and family support via its social work team. The ultimate goal of CURE is to increase the pool of underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in STEM, health care, and cancer research. Brake says it’s the perfect example of Perman’s belief that the university system has a responsibility to engage with the community.

Brake also considers CURE a model for the collaborative approach to problem-solving. “Public-private partnerships are key to addressing the area’s challenges,” he says. “Everyone has to do their part. With CURE, the University, donors, business and health care professionals, and volunteers are all working together to help provide tangible opportunities for young people from underserved communities.

“Without economic development, the city can’t solve any of its problems, but addressing these challenges is everyone’s job,” he added. “Programs like UMB CURE Scholars need investors, they need mentors — there are lots of different ways for businesses, organizations, and individuals to get involved.”

Brake stresses that it is critical to address the root causes that have fueled Baltimore’s ongoing challenges by discovering innovative solutions, like the CURE program, that cultivate the next generation of leaders and provide lasting educational tools to tackle tomorrow’s problems.

“We have to bring programs and knowledge to people. If we work together, the economy will improve and, over time, many of our problems can, and should, be solved.”

To join Brake and St. John, Ellin & Tucker, and so many others in supporting our next generation of diverse leaders in the health sciences, STEM, and cancer research, give to the UMB CURE Scholars Program.

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Office of Philanthropy Staff

CATALYST magazine

Executive Board

Lynne Henry, Laura Kozak, Larry Kushner, Jennifer Litchman, Thomas Sullivan, Kate Ostrowski


Lynne Henry

Managing Editor

Chris Zang

Assistant Editor

Kate Ostrowski

Photography Director

Matthew D’Agostino


Michelle Baffuto

Web Director

Amir Chamsaz

Marketing Manager

Kristi McGuire