Caldwell: Working on Behalf of Baltimore at Home and in the Office

Posted December 1, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog jcaldwellfivequestions 2016

As an admin­is­tra­tive assis­tant for Casey’s Bal­ti­more Civic Site, Jacque­line Cald­well dis­burs­es grants to strength­en and sup­port orga­ni­za­tions cen­tral to the Foundation’s mis­sion. Part­ner­ing with these groups is crit­i­cal to improv­ingthe edu­ca­tion, health, eco­nom­ic secu­ri­ty and neigh­bor­hood sta­bil­i­ty of local chil­dren and fam­i­lies. Cald­well, a Bal­ti­more native, spends as much time out­side as inside the office work­ing to bet­ter the lives of Bal­ti­more fam­i­lies. A long­time vol­un­teer and civic leader, her evenings and week­ends are spent work­ing with local offi­cials, groups and busi­ness­es to address res­i­dents’ needs and con­nect them to help.

Q1. Tell me about your job respon­si­bil­i­ties at Casey.

I’m respon­si­ble for get­ting the grants out to orga­ni­za­tions that help accom­plish the Foundation’s goals. We pro­vide oper­at­ing sup­port to these orga­ni­za­tions so they can offer essen­tial pro­grams and ser­vices to help chil­dren and fam­i­lies in the civic site.

Q2. What inspired you to become a com­mu­ni­ty leader? Tell me about your work as one.

My moti­va­tion to get involved came from my par­ents. They always stood up for what was right and taught us to do the same. I am pres­i­dent of the Greater Mon­dawmin Coor­di­nat­ing Coun­cil, an umbrel­la advo­ca­cy group that works for the renew­al and revi­tal­iza­tion of a com­mu­ni­ty in West Bal­ti­more con­sist­ing of nine neigh­bor­hoods. Our board includes rep­re­sen­ta­tives­from the Mon­dawmin Mall, Bal­ti­more City Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege, Cen­ter for Urban Fam­i­lies, Cop­pin State Uni­ver­si­ty, Parks and Peo­ple Foun­da­tion and Bön Sec­ours Health Sys­tems. Togeth­er, we have brought more than $800 mil­lion in invest­ments to the area. Exam­ples include: sup­port for hous­ing; low-inter­est loans; a Safe Streets grant to end gun vio­lence; and fund­ing­to pro­vide read­ing pro­grams for young chil­dren, hire high school stu­dents to help work with chil­dren with learn­ing issues and get young artists and entre­pre­neurs involved in the Bal­ti­more Light City Festival.

I am also pres­i­dent of the Whit­ti­er-Mon­roe Com­mu­ni­ty Neigh­bor­hood Asso­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents the neigh­bor­hood I have lived in for 50 years.

Q3. What accom­plish­ments are you most proud of?

My biggest accom­plish­ment is being able to edu­cate the pow­ers that be about the chal­lenges fac­ing the neigh­bor­hood and how best to sup­port the com­mu­ni­ty. When you know how to nav­i­gate those waters, you can empow­er your neigh­bors. Peo­ple need some­one who is going to hear them, under­stand them and speak out for them. The riot­ing that came to our area after the death of Fred­die Gray was not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple who actu­al­ly live in our com­mu­ni­ty. One of our mis­sions is to rebrand the way the com­mu­ni­ty is talked about. We’re bring­ing pos­i­tive resources and infor­ma­tion to help com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers suc­ceed — whether in fur­ther­ing their edu­ca­tion or sav­ing for a home.

Q4. What is most reward­ing about work­ing at Casey?

Besides han­dling my grant respon­si­bil­i­ties, I’m able to help if the phone rings and it is some­one who is nor­mal­ly not on our radar. I’m usu­al­ly able to con­nect the dots to get help to them. Being con­nect­ed and trust­ed and hav­ing a good rep­u­ta­tion help me bet­ter serve the com­mu­ni­ty and the Foundation.

Q5. What would you say to encour­age par­ents and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to get involved in mak­ing change happen?

It doesn’t take much to make a dif­fer­ence through your com­mu­ni­ty asso­ci­a­tion, your church or oth­er local insti­tu­tions. Be the solu­tion to the prob­lem. Do some­thing to show you care, whether it’s a block cleanup or a police appre­ci­a­tion cook­out. Get to know your neigh­bors, forge a sense of uni­ty with res­i­dents and get out there and do the work.

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