Tag: helping out

Johns Hopkins Students Leading Social Change in Baltimore

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Navigating Baltimore City’s thorny special education bureaucracy. A micro-farming project that breaks up “food deserts” by harnessing the skills of refugees and immigrants who were involved in agriculture in their home projects. A science league that teaches creative thinking and science/math skills in a fun (and competitive) after-school program. Each of these projects was dreamed up and designed by a Johns Hopkins undergraduate for a three-week mini class that taught students how to draw up a business plan — and how to think thoughtfully about how they might make Baltimore a better place.

But the plans aren’t just academic theory. The class, called Leading Social Change and taught during Hopkins’ January intersession term, culminated with the brand-new Social Entrepreneurial Business Plan Competition. And the three students who won (with the projects mentioned above) each got $5,000 in seed money to make their idea a reality.

This is, it seems to me, an unabashedly good idea. Students gain real-world skills in budgeting, writing grant proposals, and coming up with innovative — and achievable ideas. And then they put those skills to use in their own communities. The class was made possible by a $75,000 gift from alumnus Christopher Drennen, who has himself learned, it seems, how to spur social change in innovative ways.

Read more about the projects and the class that inspired them here.

Bringing Rowing to Inner City Baltimore

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As far as preppy sports go, rowing is right up there with lacrosse and squash. Which is exactly the reason Judd Anderson and the other volunteers at Reach High Baltimore:  Rowers Empowering Baltimore City Youth think it should be taught to kids from all neighborhoods, not just wealthy ones.

This past year, 36 middle schoolers from poor South Baltimore neighborhoods participated in the program, which is run by the Baltimore Rowing Club. They started out as complete novices — many couldn’t even swim. Through regular meetings, the kids not only become skilled rowers; they’re  also encouraged”to swim, get fit, and achieve in school,” according to Anderson.  There’s even a high school team for kids who stick with the sport.

And while fitness and goal-setting are admirable goals, the project — still in its early years — may have an even more far-reaching impact on participants, since smaller sports (like rowing) are a good way to get scholarships to elite schools. And so while inner city rowing programs are just the beginning to “break[ing] through social, racial, and economic glass ceilings,” they’re a step in the right direction.

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