What makes a neighborhood great? The obvious answer -- its the people. But, attracting people to a neighborhood takes a combination of ingredients that include both home values, services and its public schools. Forging strong partnerships between communities and their schools, that's the motivation behind the Goldseker Foundation's latest grant initiative, Neighborhood-School Partnership.
In recognition of the interdependence between neighborhoods and schools, in which the quality of one directly impacts the quality of the other, the Goldseker Foundation provided the $435,000 to fund the new initiative. The Neighborhood-School Partnership joins another Goldseker Foundation program, Healthy Neighborhoods founded in 2001.
The Goldseker Foundation helped to create the Healthy Neighborhoods program with a $125,000 grant in 2001. Healthy Neighborhoods helps strong but undervalued Baltimore neighborhoods increase home values, market their communities and create high standards for property improvements, while forging strong connections among neighbors. The program has been a catalyst for residential investment, while the current school reform environment in Baltimore City has led to an increasing number of quality public school options to complement an existing network of strong private schools in the city.
Last week the non-profit organization announced the partnerships
that team five neighborhood organizations with eight local grade schools.
"We've invested $2.2 million to try and create stronger neighborhoods through strong real estate markets, strong resident leadership and emphasizing everything that's right with a neighborhood. We intentionally started in neighborhoods where we wouldn't have to spend 20 years trying to fix the public schools," says Timothy Armbruster, president of the Goldseker Foundation. "We want to stimulate creative thinking about how neighborhoods and schools can work together to build from strength and tell the story about the good things happening in these communities."
Through the partnerships and grants, the foundation hopes to encourage joint neighborhood and school improvement strategies that will enhance the desirability of neighborhoods due to high-quality schools, well-maintained properties, and strong community connections, and also increase enrollment and academic quality at schools serving children living in Healthy Neighborhoods.
"We'd like to see the education, community development, and public and private funding sectors working together to leverage investments in schools and neighborhoods for greater impact," says Armbruster. "Forging stronger connections between schools andneighborhoods is one more step in making the city more responsive and attractive to a wide range of families, including Baltimore's growing middle class."
The real winners, however, are the students will benefit from the curriculum, programs, and projects instituted at their schools. Students at Calvin M Rodwell Elementary School as a result of a $50,000 grant will take on the role normally held by local TV weatherman. The school's new Weatherbug Science Curriculum will allow the pint-sized meteorologists to use their knowledge of science and math to help create their own weather forecasts. It's partner, Garwyn Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center will receive $25,000 for core operating support and marketing.
"It is incredibly important [to give students access to these extracurricular opportunities]. We spend so much time on basic skills, on making them ready to met standards. The enrichment they'll receive from these projects that draw on their imagination, that of course is most important," says Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Schools CEO.
Other schools and neighborhood organizations receiving funds are Cross Country Elementary/Middle and partner Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI), Gwynns Falls Elementary and Greather Mondawmin Coordinating Council, City Neighbors Charter, Hamilton Elementary/Middle and St. Francis of Assisi School partnered with Neighborhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc., and Barclay Elementary/Middle and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle partnered with Greater Homewood Community Corporation.
Sources: Tim Armbruster, The Goldseker Foundation; Dr. Andres Alonso, Baltimore City Public Schools
Writer: Walaika Haskins