Tag: east baltimore

Local Non-Profit Gets Major Grant to Provide Mental Health Services in Local Schools



The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) today announced its support of Elev8 Baltimore through Forward Promise, the Foundation’s $9.5 million initiative to improve the health and success of boys and young men of color. Elev8 Baltimore received approximately $500,000 over 30 months to support its Adolescent Behavioral Health Partnership with the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Bayview. The partnership provides mental health support to fifth- to eighth-grade boys in East Baltimore, presenting them with skills they need to effectively manage stress and the effects of trauma, ultimately reducing levels of depression and anxiety.

Elev8 Baltimore was one of 10 organizations selected for their innovative community-based programs that strengthen health, education, and employment outcomes for middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color. From Alaska to Baltimore, the Foundation is investing in best practices and successful models that can be brought to scale. Elev8 Baltimore will use the grant to provide services to boys in two East Baltimore schools.

Very Cool: Couple to Open Non-Trendy “Health” Grocery in East Baltimore



Erich March and his wife, Michele Speaks-March, were sick and tired of watching neighbors in their East Baltimore community die of preventable conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Why were these illnesses so incredibly rampant in their area? Erich and Michele, who co-own the March Funeral Homes, blamed the dearth of food-shopping options nearby. They put their heads together to brainstorm a solution to food-desert problem plaguing the Oliver, South Clifton, and Darley Park neighborhoods in the greater North Avenue neighborhood. Their light bulb of a simple, practical idea is inspiring, because they’re putting it into daily practice.

More Food (and Development) for Baltimore!


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Sometimes I daydream about living in San Francisco, the most restaurant-dense city in America — and then I look at average rent prices. But those of us who are fond of both Baltimore and going out to dinner may be in luck:  A diverse group of Baltimore organizations (including Woodberry Kitchen, East Baltimore Development, Inc., and Humanim) are teaming up to create a $10 million “Baltimore Food Hub” just north of the Johns Hopkins Medical Campus in East Baltimore. (Hat tip to Technically Baltimore for breaking the story.)

Food-centric redevelopment is something of a trend in Baltimore these days, and no wonder. As the BFH developers note, this kind of redevelopment embraces “localism” — that is, investing in businesses that will both employ and serve the local community. In a town with as many food deserts as Baltimore, this is even more crucial. So what can we expect from the project, which is projected to begin construction in January 2014 in order to open that fall?

East Baltimore Community School Takes Shape, Assembles Board

Dr. Ben Carson is so cool that Cuba Gooding Jr. once played him in a TV movie.

The East Baltimore Community School, Inc., the partnership educational institution operated jointly by Johns Hopkins and Morgan State Universities, is meant as a kind of flagship redevelopment project for the struggling Middle East community. As it ramps up for its move to a $42 million, 90,000 square foot campus in fall 2013, the school is assembling its forces. And as of this week, that includes neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who was named president of the board as of December 1.

Johns Hopkins Puts Theory into Practice with New Elementary School


At the Johns Hopkins School of Education, it’s not all book-learning and airy ideas; with a new community elementary school on the way, Hopkins-trained educators will be able to put into practice everything they’re learning.

The project may have a clunky name (officially, it’s Elmer A. Henderson:  A Johns Hopkins Partnership School; it used to be known as the East Baltimore Community School), but its goals are lofty. The $43 million state-of-the-art school, a partnership with Morgan State University’s School of Education and Urban Studies, is scheduled to open for the 2013-14 school year, and will host 540 students when it’s at capacity. Students will be drawn from the so-called “East Baltimore Development, Inc.” area — the neighborhoods around the sprawling Johns Hopkins Medical complex, many of whom have had a fraught relationship with the school and its approach to development. (Former residents who were relocated out of the area so Hopkins could expand will also have priority.) If space remains, the school will also serve siblings, children of nearby employers, and children from surrounding East Baltimore neighborhoods.

Johns Hopkins Tries to Make Peace with Henrietta Lacks


Last year’s surprise non-fiction bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, put Johns Hopkins in a tricky position. In Rebecca Skloot’s account of the woman whose continually reproducing cervical cancer cells have been the foundation of medical breakthroughs for decades since her death in the 1950s, the hospital comes off as cold — callous, even. “Neither Henrietta Lacks nor her family were taken seriously when a sample of her cervical cancer cells was taken and immortalized – without their knowledge – as the HeLa cell line,” writes one blogger. “Rebecca Skloot’s documentation of the insensitivity that was shown toward the Lacks family at Johns Hopkins, unwittingly or not, makes you plain angry.”

As the university tries to build a better reputation with the city, this is exactly not the image they want to be projecting. To that end, the school has endowed a Henrietta Lacks Memorial Lecture, intended to honor Lacks and to “describe the reach and complexity, both biomedically and ethically, of the story of Henrietta Lacks and HeLa cells as well as to provide some insight into the past, present, and future of the conduct of clinical research.”

In another public gesture, the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute just instituted the Henrietta Lacks Memorial Award, “created to recognize and support Baltimore community organizations that are collaborating with The Johns Hopkins University to improve the health and well-being of Baltimore City and its residents.” This year’s $15,000 grant went to Newborn Holistic Ministries, which runs a program for homeless women, arts classes for kids, as well as other services to meet residents’ “material, social, and spiritual needs.”

It’s certainly a positive effort — but is it enough to repair decades of antagonism between the university and the East Baltimore communities it uneasily coexists with?

Education Reform Theories Get Tested in East Baltimore


According to friends of mine who’ve gotten Master’s degrees in education, going to school for teaching can sometimes feel a little backward — after all, the most important learning happens when you’re at the front of the classroom.

Plenty of learning will happen for teachers and students alike when Johns Hopkins’ School of Education and Morgan State’s School of Education and Urban Studies take over the daily operations of an East Baltimore school this fall, putting all those theories about “best teaching practices” and “urban-based K-8 education” to the test.

The dean of the Hopkins School of Education says he’s looking forward to putting education reform ideas into practice:  “Johns Hopkins is involved with this school because we can make a difference. We are committed to reducing the achievement gap and making this a demonstration site of best practices. We like to say this is a small school that will leave a big footprint.”

And the school won’t be staying small for long. As it stands now, the charter school has been operational for 3 years, and serves approximately 260 students. In a couple years, though, it’ll re-open as a 90,000 square foot facility with a capacity for 540 students, the first new school built in East Baltimore in a quarter century.

And in an ideal world, Hopkins employees who live and work in the area will happily send their kids to the public school that their institution helped to reform. A lofty-but-reachable goal? Or an impossible dream? Let us know what you think.