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Baltimore's vital signs looking good says report

A new statistical analysis of Baltimore shows that the city has made important improvements in areas central to the city's improvement, including crime, housing, and education prior to the recession. Other social conditions, such as the number of teen births and the number of children with elevated levels of blood lead, have also improved according to the latest "Vital Signs" report by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute. However, the report shows that while there have been significant improvements in a variety of economic and social indicators in Baltimore, not all neighborhoods within the city have benefited equally.

Available on the BNIA-JFI's new website, analyzes data from nearly 80 indicators provided at the Community Statistical Area level. CSAs, created by the Baltimore City Department of Planning, are clusters of neighborhoods organized around Census Tract boundaries, which are consistent statistical boundaries. Neighborhood borders don't always fall neatly into CSAs, but CSAs represent conditions occurring within the particular neighborhoods that comprise a CSA.

"This latest edition of 'Vital Signs' will help us access how our neighborhoods are doing and what we can do to help improve outcomes," says Janice Hamilton Outtz, senior associate for Civic Site and Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "I am excited about the new report."

The 8th edition of "Vital Signs reveals the following important trends currently impacting the city:

  • The city's population declined by 3 percent, from 651,154 in 2000, to 631,815 in 2008. While a handful of neighborhoods lost population, several more, including downtown (22 percent), Loch Raven (8.4 percent) and Northwood (9.9 percent), experienced a growth in population.
  • Median sales prices for homes in the city increased by well over 100 percent in the past eight years, although the pace of that increase has slowed considerably since the start of the recession.
  • Both adult and juvenile crime has decreased in Baltimore City. In particular, Baltimore City's Part 1 crime rate has declined from 106.0 incidents per 1,000 people in 2000 to 78.3 incidents per 1,000 per people in 2008.
  • The number of residential properties receiving rehabilitation investment is climbing, and may be continuing as the recession lingers and more homeowners choose to stay in their current home.
  • Baltimore's high school completion rate is on the rise, while its rate of truancy in elementary, middle school and high school (including students who drop out of high school) is in decline.
  • The teen birth rate dropped from 83.3 teens out of 1,000 in 2000 to 66.1 teens per 1,000 in 2008—a decline of 17.2 percent.

Other measurements, such as the larger number of Baltimore residents visiting local emergency rooms for non-emergency diagnoses and treatment, expose a city that continues to be constrained by larger trends such as rising health care costs and a lack of adequate medical insurance.

"While Baltimore City has made significant improvements in areas such as crime and education, we appear to be hampered by many of the same things that have struck other urban areas in this recession," says Matthew Kachura, program manager for BNIA-JFI at UB. "But we also are seeing some resilience, such as the increase in home prices, median household income, and an impressive number of small businesses based in well-established city neighborhoods like Edmonson Village and Greenmount East, and by the growing number of city residents who claim at least some higher education in their backgrounds."

BNIA-JFI began in 1998 as a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In 2006, BNIA joined with the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute in an expansion of its capabilities. BNIA-JFI has strengthened the "Vital Signs" report and provided additional services and resources for those who seek data, information, and analysis about the city.

BNIA-JFI's latest product is a new Web site, www.bniajfi.org, which provides a wide variety of data, maps, and information for the City of Baltimore and its neighborhoods. Anyone interested in how Baltimore measures up can find easy-to-use statistical analyses, maps, reports and links relevant to the city.

This information is reflected in the latest "Vital Signs" report. For example, Edmonson Village reports the city's highest percentage of successful small businesses (69.2 percent), while a total of 50.9 percent of all city residents reported some type of college attendance as of 2008.

"These trends of educational attainment, lower crime and rising housing prices may not lead to a total revitalization for the city," Kachura said, "but show that many neighborhoods are improving and these improvements paint both a better and a realistic picture of Baltimore. The larger question is whether these trends can be maintained and translated into long-term improvements for Baltimore and its neighborhoods. For the most part, though, they are good news for the city."

Source: Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins


Coppin to open community computer center with $932K BTOP grant

President Reginald S. Avery announced that Coppin received an award that truly testifies to the University's commitment to initiating outreach efforts critical to the West Baltimore community.

Coppin State University received federal stimulus funding to establish the Coppin Heights-Rosemont Family Computer Center, which will provide broadband computer access, job training, and various educational and mentorship programs to 35,000 residents of the neighboring Coppin Heights-Rosemont community, an area where it is estimated that less than five percent of families subscribe to broadband service.

Coppin is the only institution in the state of Maryland to receive the highly competitive $932,116 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). In tune with Coppin's current efforts to revitalize the Baltimore community, the Center will "create jobs and improve education and health" by offering 15 continuous training and educational courses that will be led by Coppin State faculty, students, and partners. The Center will house 60 new computer workstations.

Citing that the computer center ensures residents of the Coppin Heights corridor new opportunities for success, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said, "This critical investment will expand computer and Internet service access to Baltimore residents most in need, helping to make them full participants in today's 21st century information economy." He continued, "Having access to the Internet's economic, health and educational benefits will help to improve the quality of life in these communities."

Coppin's new Institute for Local to Global Community Engagement will administer the BTOP grant. President Avery is excited about the grant funding and the computer programs that will include courses in basic and advanced computer techniques, job training, financial literacy, health information, entrepreneurship, nonprofit administration, and global education.

"The Family Computer Center will offer a dynamic set of programs that will enable us to make a true difference in the lives of people," he said. This sentiment was echoed by Dr. York Bradshaw, the Executive Director of the Institute for Local to Global Community Engagement, and the Principal Investigator of the grant award.

"This grant will provide the resources for Coppin State to engage in the community in exciting new ways. We have programs for kindergarten students all the way through senior adults. We will create new jobs and also offer a wide variety of other programs to improve education and health in the community," said Dr. Bradshaw.

Coppin will partner with local businesses and organizations including the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, Center for Community Technology Services, Advanced Technology Integrators, Comcast, Rosemont Elementary/Middle School, Coppin Academy High School, and One Economy Corporation.

The BTOP competition is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Awards are highly competitive. There were 364 applicants for the public computer center competition. Of the 364 organizations that applied for funding to establish a public computer center, less than 20 have won awards. Only two other universities across the country have been awarded funding to start such centers-- Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota.

Other winners include state library systems, public housing authorities, workforce development agencies, and other institutions and organizations. Aside from the public computer center competition, there were two other competitions for BTOP funding: broadband infrastructure grants and broadband adoption grants. A total of $7.2 billion has been set aside for several rounds of competition for the different BTOP awards.

Mayor names Tom Loveland Google Czar

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake kicked Baltimore's push to win the Google Fiber competition up a notch last week, enlisting the support of top business and technology leaders and organizations. Heading the team is Tom Loveland, president of local tech company Mind Over Machines and the newly annointed Google Czar.

Loveland will work with Joseph Weaver, president Global Design Interactive,  and Scott Plank, vice president Under Armour in conjunction with Baltimore Fiber, a grassroots effort launched several weeks ago in response to the announcement about Google Fiber for Communities, an initiative that asks American cities and municipalities to compete for up to a billion dollars in fiber optic network infrastructure delivering speeds nearly 100 times faster than most internet connections.

Google, Inc. is asking local governments and communities to express interest and provide information by completing a "request for information" or RFI by March 26.

With Baltimore's rich history of technological innovation, "there is no doubt in my mind that Baltimore is the best and most appropriate City in America to invest in new blazing fast internet infrastructure," Mayor Rawlings-Blake said. "Baltimore is a 'City of First's' and we should be Google's first choice," Rawlings-Blake says.

The Mayor also pegged Greater Baltimore Committee and the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore to assist the already burgeoning grassroots campaign to lure Google to Baltimore by recruiting additional support from larger corporations and institutions. Mayor Rawlings-Blake announced an agreement with Under Armour to supply in-house marketing capabilities to assist the effort.

"Baltimore's business community will enthusiastically engage to take full advantage of this opportunity to achieve a quantum leap in technology resources and enhanced speed capabilities," says Donald C. Fry, President and CEO of the Greater Baltimore Committee. "This project fits Baltimore's business legacy of technology advancements and transformational innovations."

"Greater Baltimore has emerged as the nation's "knowledge center"... from the best hospital and researchers in the world to the nation's leaders in defense intelligence and communications. This framework provides an opportunity to enhance our connectivity within the region, as well as connecting the rest of the world to our community," says J. Thomas Sadowski, President & CEO, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore:

Loveland in his role as a volunteer "Google Czar" will be charged with working with the Mayor's Office of Economic Development and Neighborhoods to complete and submit the RFI by the due date.

"Baltimore is a tinderbox of innovation. Google Fiber is the spark, a game-changer that could turn Baltimore into a global innovation leader," Mr. Loveland said. "Mayor Rawlings-Blake understands that and I'm honored to serve the City."

According to Loveland, Baltimore is an ideal city for the Google project. "We are fortunate to have a multitude of unique, world-class resources that we all know and cherish. We are fortunate [to have a] growing population of entrepreneurs and creative's who want to make a difference in our community. We are fortunate that our region has the largest population of technology professionals in the country."

"Mix these together – unique world-class resources, entrepreneurs, and technologists – and you see that Baltimore is a tinderbox of innovation just waiting for a spark. Google Fiber is that spark. Google Fiber can turn Baltimore into a global innovation leader," he continues.

Whether Baltimore is successful or not in its bid to win the Google Fiber competition, both Loveland and David Troy, who has helped spearhead the grassroots effort among businesses and communities, say the city will have won. Both men expect the consortium of business and community leaders to tackle future projects.

"This is just the beginning," says Troy.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake also released a new YouTube video that will be posted on the Bmore Fiber website.



Source: Tom Loveland, Mind Over Machines; David Troy, Baltimore Fiber
Writer: Walaika Haskins
Google logo by Senait Weaver


Goldseker announces first neighborhood-school partnership recipients of $435K in grants

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

BmoreFiber needs your help in bid to bring $1B Google project to city

Imagine being able to download an HD movie or other large file in just a few minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3D video of a university lecture. Those are just a few possibilities available to communities with universal ultra high-speed internet access, according to Google.

That's why, on Feb. 10, Google announced plans to build ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the country. The search giant's plan is to invest a few billion dollars to bring a few lucky communities with a fiber-to-the-home broadband network that offer speeds of one gigabit per second. The network would be competitively priced to at least 50,000, and potentially up to 500,000 people.

This connection would be 2,000% faster than the fastest connection currently available to Baltimore residents, according to BmoreFiber, the recently formed group trying to win the service for Baltimore.

BmoreFiber,  a conglomeration, of local leaders, tech companies and business owners, wants to show Google that Baltimore is a city replete with creative types who would be able to take full advantage of super fast broadband network.

"We expect the level of investment to be about $1 billion dollars and that's hard to turn down. I don't care what the investment is. It's something we'd love to see happen here in Baltimore," says David Troy, CEO of Roundhouse Technologies, founder of Beehive Baltimore, and BmoreFiber spokesperson.

"We have a burgeoning technical community in terms of tech startups. It's an opportunity to make a difference with the digital divide and that sort of thing. We offer a lot of diversity and opportunity for a business like Google," he continues.

However, the group needs the help of every citizen in Baltimore. They need everyone who would also like to see the Google project come here to vote for Baltimore by logging in their location and then filling out a short questionnaire about their current Internet service.

Google is asking local governments and residents to express their interest in the fiber optic trial, and to provide information about their community by completing a request for information by March 26, 2010.

"Part of this is that [Google] is trying to use these early implementations as a test market for learning the lessons that would be required to do this in other places. What we need to show is that if they came here people would be interested in it and sign up for services."

The second thing the Baltimore community needs to do, according to Troy, is show that we have a "representative climate," and that Google would be able to learn a broad number of lessons about physical infrastructure, dealing with digital divide issues, and what it takes to make businesses happy. "[We want to offer them] a nice test lab," he adds.

Historically, Baltimore has been a pretty good test market for a variety of technologies. "We're our own media market. We have a diversity of socio-economic classes represented and its a relatively low cost place to do something," explains Troy.

The win for Baltimore is that businesses would see the service as a plus when considering Baltimore.

"We are always looking for opportunities to distinguish Baltimore City from its competition," says Andrew Frank, deputy mayor for Economic and Neighborhood Development. "We need to find new and build on existing strengths that retain and attract residents and businesses. The Google high speed Internet opportunity would achieve those goals. Also, as a technology gadget aficionado, the Mayor gets that having access to the latest technology can influence the choices that residents and businesses make."

But, whether Google choses the city or not, Troy says its win-win for Baltimore either way.

"What's the worst that can happen, we are up against some pretty sitff competition with cities like Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. all which I'm sure have good stories about why they'd be good for this as well. It's not clear how many cities Google will do this in. It could 1, 5 or 10, we just don't know yet. Even if this doesn't come through, aligning stakeholders around that cause is a good exercise and gives us something to rally behind going forward. There might also be other funds out there -- stimulus money or other kinds of investment -- that we can repurpose some of this work for."

Follow BmoreFiber on Twitter or join their mailing list.

Sources: Dave Troy, BmoreFiber; Andrew Frank, City of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins


City, PNC Bank to hold neighborhood event creativity workshop

Community leaders looking to give their neighborhood events a bit of zing in 2010 will be able to attend the PNC Bank Creativity Event Workshop. The one day event features expert panelists who will teach nonprofit community-based organizations and neighborhood event coordinators how to include new ideas to develop more engaging and quality events for residents.

The workshop takes place Saturday, February 20 from 10am to 12 noon at the Southeast Anchor Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, located at 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224. Participating panelists include William Backstrom, Community Development Banking Territory Manager for PNC Bank, one of the nation's largest diversified financial services organizations; Daryl Landy, executive director of Pigtown Main Street, a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization devoted to improving Pigtown's Washington Boulevard commercial corridor; Linda Richardson, executive director of Historical Pennsylvania Avenue Main Street, an organization that works to revitalize one of Baltimore's most historic neighborhoods; Molly Ross, director and principle artist of Nana Projects, a nonprofit corporation that blends innovative performance and visual arts into community-based work; Hope Williams, coordinator for the Initiative For A Cleaner Greener Baltimore, a program which increases public awareness on ways that individuals and organizations can sustain a cleaner environment; and Randi Vega, Cultural Affairs Director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

The workshop is free open to the public. Seating is limited and requires a reservation. To RSVP, call 410-752-8632. The PNC Bank Creativity Event Workshop, a part of the PNC Bank Neighborhood Grant Program, is presented by PNC Bank and produced by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts.

For more information on the PNC Bank Creativity Event Workshop, contact the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts at 410-752-8632 or visit www.promotionandarts.com

Source: Baltimore Cty Office of Promotions & The Arts
Writer: Walaika Haskins


$80K in grants available for Kresge Arts in Baltimore

For the second year, the Kresge Foundation is offering some $80,000 in grant money for community art programs. The Foundation believes that a thriving arts and cultural community enriches the quality of life for residents, and in doing so, encourages civic dialogue, inspires new thinking, spurs innovation, and promotes neighborhood transformation.

The monies are part of the $200,000 the Foundation will invest in Baltimore In 2009 and 2010 in order to test its premise that community arts projects can effectively address community challenges. The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) is the local intermediary and administrator of this program.

According to the BCF, projects must be creative, well-conceived and compelling to be competitive. In 2009, over 130 applications were received; but only 12 grants were awarded with an average grant amount of $7,375.

Grants typically range from $2,500 to as much as $10,000.

Eligibility

  • Kresge Arts in Baltimore is open to nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations and municipal agencies or individuals and organizations with a tax-exempt fiscal sponsor.
  • Projects must take place in Baltimore City.
  • Grant awards are for projects only-- no operating or capital requests will be considered.
  • Applicants must include a letter of community or neighborhood support specific to the proposed project.
  • Projects must occur between June 1, 2010 and May 31, 2011.
  • No applicant can receive more than one grant per year.

Current Kresge grantees are not eligible to apply unless their project is complete and their final report received by the Baltimore Community Foundation before March 31, 2010.

Priority will be given to proposals with the following components:

  • Engaging arts and cultural activities, especially those that are designed and implemented with (not for) participants.
  • Projects that connect participants to specific and recognizable community issues, for example high school graduation rate, truancy, youth violence, literacy, parenting skills, recycling, litter, obesity, hypertension, job training, neighborhood safety, negative stereotypes, etc. (Lack of exposure to the arts, art as therapy, or in-school art experiences are not eligible for consideration.)
  • Projects that provide arts experiences in non-traditional spaces such as in after-school programs, low-income housing developments, juvenile detention facilities, women's shelters, community health centers, and empty storefronts, the temporary use or re-purposing of a space to facilitate arts activities occurring within communities.
  • New or expanded projects, rather than on-going initiatives.
  • Reasonable and appropriate costs to execute the project—keeping costs for equipment, materials and food to a minimum. Note: Total project budget may exceed Kresge grant range of $2,500 – $10,000 but other cash or in-kind revenue equal to the extra expense must be identified in the application.
  • Appropriate oversight and management to ensure a well designed and implemented project.
  • Collaborative projects that include other service providers.

A tax exempt IRS determination letter from the applicant organization or fiscal sponsor is required.

A letter of support from a community organization acknowledging the proposed project and its value to the supporting organization and the proposed target audience is required.

Applications will be declined based on the following criteria: not following application guidelines; incomplete application materials; no arts and cultural component; no connection to community issues; no planned resident participation.

Source: Baltimore Community Foundation
Writer: Walaika Haskins


Baltimore Ignite innovator grant deadline is tomorrow

Get your applications in today! Baltimore Ignite wants big thinkers who just need a little loot to get their idea of the ground. The innovative speaker series devoted to sparking new conversations and innovative thinking across cultures and disciplines has one $1500 grant available for the person deemed to have the most innovative idea that will benefit the citizens of Baltimore City.

The grant is the brainchild of Heather Sarkissian, a former member of the Peace Corps. "My background is in economic and social development. I was helping someone write a grant application, five pages for 1500 bucks, and I said there has to be a better way to fund these projects," she explains.

The experience got Sarkissian thinking about Ignite, the decision to charge for tickets to the upcoming Ignite in March (so attendees have guaranteed seats), her Peace Corps experience and access to grant funding. "Because it was pretty easy to access grant funding you could do these really cool projects if the barrier to entry were a lot lower."

In keeping with the Ignite philosophy emphasizing brevit, the grant application can be no longer than 650 words. The project must be carried out by an individual and cannot be a continuation of a project that's already begun. It must be completed in six months and the winner will present the project at Baltimore Ignite 6.

"The idea is really just to provide people with the opportunity to realize a project that they've been thinking of, but didn't have the access to the cash the needed. Secondly, and more importantly, it's about igniting a conversation around really neat ideas for making Baltimore a better place. That's the more crucial part because in the end we'll only select one winner for the full amount, but that will get people thinking 'if I had $1500 I'd want to this or want to do that,'" she says.

Over time Sarkissian expects that the Ignition grant will gain momentum with each successive Ignite and build up a database of "really cool ideas." The hope is that the grant will not only inspire Baltimore's citizens to think about what they can do to improve the city but also point the city's cash poor big thinkers in the direction of Baltimore organizations from which they could seek funding.

"Some of these individual citizens will either come up with ideas that are already being executed or fits very nicely with the mission of a non-profit and ideally we could just throw a contest that pairs these individuals up with the right organization that's doing this already," Sarkissian notes.

The grant committee includes members from the Baltimore Community Foundation, Enoch Pratt Library as well as several Baltimore Community Foundation grant recipients.

Source: Heather Sarkissian, Ignite Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Trans Siberian Orchestra gives $10K to Dawson Safe Haven Center

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has donated $10,000 and 10 computers to the Dawson Safe Haven Center. Paul O'Neill, founder of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra says he was touched by the story of Angela Dawson, who perished in her home in East Baltimore after local drug dealers firebombed it in 2002.

O'Neill is currently on tour and dedicated the orchestra's latest album, "Night Castle" to the family, "I was just kind of in awe of this woman and her family. This album is just our way of paying tribute to her and her family," said O'Neill in an interview with WMAR-TV.

The Dawson family home was transformed into the Dawson Safe Haven Community Center in March 2007. The Dawson Center's mission is to provide a safe, nurturing, caring environment for the children and parents of the Oliver Community. After hearing about the Dawson Safe Haven Center O'Neill was compelled to further get involved and honor Angela Dawson's life with a donation.

"This unexpected gift will help us ensure that Angela Dawson and her family did not die in vain,'' says Mayor Sheila Dixon. "The Dawson Safe Have Center nurtures our most precious commodity, our children, the future of our city."

Baltimore Housing has made a commitment to improving the physical environment of the neighborhood through community clean ups and the demolition of vacant and abandoned properties. In addition, the agency funded the development of Preston Place, an affordable housing community in the neighborhood, and the first new homes built in the Oliver community in over 50 years.

Source: Housing Authority of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins

City launches neighborhood recycling contest

Is your neighborhood the greenest 'hood in Baltimore? That's what the Department of Public Works and the Initiative for a Cleaner Greener Baltimore are hoping to prove with a new contest.

The RecycleMORE Community Tonnage Competition seeks to to Increase community partnerships that promote a cleaner, greener City; increase household recycling through neighborhood driven outreach and educational efforts; and increase Baltimore's overall recycling tonnage.

The contest registration period begins Wed., Dec 9 and runs through Tues. Dec. 28. The contest begins Fri. Jan. 1 and ends Wed., March 31. During the 12-week period participating communities recyclables will be weighed to eventually determine the neighborhoods who have contributed the greatest amount.

Winners will be announced on the Mayor's Spring Cleanup Day, Saturday, April 17. Winning neighborhoods will receive an "appreciation day block party." The Mayor's Initiative for a Cleaner Greener Baltimore will also offer communities an opportunity to compete for RecycleMORE 1+1 Program Partner Grants. These grants are limited and subject to eligibility criteria. Communities are encouraged to apply promptly.

Communities that wish to register should call Ms. Tonya Simmons, Recycling Coordinator, Bureau of Solid Waste at 410-396-4511. Completed registrations forms can be faxed or emailed to Ms. Simmons at 410-545-6117 or [email protected]
 
Source: Department of Public Works
Writer: Walaika Haskins


GBTC names Dave Troy Connector of the Year

The GBTC handed out its Connector award last Thursday at its  2009 Tech Nite. Held at the Baltimore Convention Center, the event celebrated the organization's two decades working with Baltimore's technology companies.

Dave Troy, founder of Tedx Mid-Atlantic, Baltimore Beehive, Baltimore Angels, Roundhouse Technologies, Social DevCamp East, Popvox and a host of other enterprises and endeavors, is this year's Connector award recipient. Troy beat out Mike Subelsky, OtherInBox & Ignite Baltimore, and Neil Davis of the Emerging Technology Centers.

According to the GBTC, the Connector award is given to the GBTC member who "gets it" – they are more than a volunteer; they CONNECT people. People to people, people to programs and they also get others involved. Award recipients are the person who brings clients, colleagues, friends and even prospects to GBTC programs – connecting them to others in our community. They make our community a better place by understanding the power of connecting.


Source: GBTC
Writer: Walaika Haskins

CSX trees up Westport

CSX employees, joined by representatives from TreeBaltimore, Parks & People Foundation and the Westport Community, spent Saturday morning planting large Redbud, Maple and Sycamore trees throughout Baltimore's Westport neighborhood.

The railroad-sponsored program focused on Annapolis, Maisel and Cedley streets in the 45-acre Westport neighborhood that is being redeveloped from an industrial area to a mixed-used community. An estimated 37 percent of the area`s families live below the poverty line, but area leaders hope the environmental restoration and community revitalization goals will make the neighborhood a national model for urban restoration.

The CSX event was part of the railroad`s "Trees for Tracks" program that promises to plant 21,000 trees, or one tree for each mile of CSX track, in partnership with local organizations over the next five years. Other partners include City Year, the national youth service initiative, and Alliance for Community Trees, a national organization dedicated to helping cities restore their forest canopy, a third of which has been destroyed in recent decades.

According to Tori Kaplan, Director of Corporate Citizenship for CSX, "Planting trees improves air quality, offsets carbon emissions, creates noise buffers, improves wildlife habitats and adds beauty to our communities. We appreciate the opportunity to bring Trees for Tracks to a Baltimore city neighborhood that has received national attention for reinventing itself in ways that improve the quality of life and benefit the environment."

During its twenty-five years of working in Baltimore City, Parks & People has found environmental restoration can be a critical early step in the revitalization of communities in need. "In communities with trees, people socialize more with their neighbors, have a stronger sense of community and pride in their neighborhood, and feel safer than people in communities without trees. We are excited to be part of this larger effort that CSX is undertaking, to bring trees back to our city," Says Guy Hager, senior director for the Parks & People Foundation.


Additional CSX "Trees for Tracks" planting days will take place over the next several months in Atlanta, Miami and other cities. For additional information or to sign up as a volunteer, please visit http://www.keeponliving.org/green/trees-for-tracks/.

Source: Tori Kaplan, CSX
Writer: Walaika Haskins

Urban Policy competition seeks students with solutions for Baltimore

Baltimore-area undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in solving urban problems have an opportunity to test their ideas, be recognized by city decision makers and win up to $4,000 by entering the 2010 Abell Award in Urban Policy competition.

Co-sponsored by the Abell Foundation and the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies, the award is given annually to the students who author the most compelling papers on a pressing problem facing the city of Baltimore. The first place prize is $4,000 and second place is $1,000.

"The purpose of this award is to encourage fresh thinking about the serious challenges facing this city and to tap the intellectual capacity of the city's college and graduate students," said Bob Embry, president of the Abell Foundation.

The contest is open to full-time undergraduate and graduate students at Coppin State University; Goucher College; The Johns Hopkins University; Loyola University Maryland; Morgan State University; the College of Notre Dame; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; theUniversity of Maryland, College Park; and Stevenson University.

Winners are selected by a panel of judges comprising Baltimore opinion leaders and practitioners. Past winners have focused on strategies for reusing vacant properties in Baltimore, new approaches for preventing and reducing youth violence, the impact of zero tolerance school discipline policies, measures to reduce infant mortality, and policies to reduce high Latina birth rates.

"The judges and I have been extremely impressed with the thoughtful analysis and creative solutions that are offered by these papers," says Sandra Newman, professor and director of the IPS Center on Housing, Neighborhoods, and Communities. "It is clear that Baltimore's graduate and undergraduate students have much to contribute to the solution of these very challenging problems, both during their schooling and, hopefully, beyond."

In addition to the cash award, winners will have their papers distributed to key city and state decision makers, featured in the Abell Foundation Newsletter, and posted on the Johns Hopkins IPS website.

Applying is a three-step process: Potential applicants must first complete and submit a one-page contest entry form by Oct. 23, and a thorough abstract by Nov. 23. Final papers are due by March 5, 2010.

For details, including the entry form, a sample abstract, official guidelines, FAQs and examples of winning papers, visit here or write. The award is co-sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies and the Abell Foundation Inc.

Source: Sandra Newman, JHU Institute of Policy Studies
Writer: Walaika Haskins

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