We are One Baltimore

Posted May 27, 2015
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Newsrelease mccarthynamedpresident 2010

Over the past three weeks, I hope the nation has learned more about Bal­ti­more than the images they get when the Inner Har­bor glit­ters in the back­ground dur­ing nation­al broad­casts of Ravens games or when tele­vi­sion pro­grams so men­ac­ing­ly por­tray blight­ed neigh­bor­hoods with rows of emp­ty homes. 

In real­i­ty, Bal­ti­more is a city of proud neigh­bor­hoods filled with a rich col­lec­tion of cit­i­zens, reflect­ing every dimen­sion of socioe­co­nom­ic, racial, reli­gious and cul­tur­al diver­si­ty imag­in­able. It’s a city where most of the 620,000 res­i­dents are hard-work­ing peo­ple who care about the future of their fam­i­lies, their com­mu­ni­ties and the charm­ing” city they call home. 

Despite the images of destruc­tion and divi­sion that filled nation­al head­lines a few short weeks ago, I saw a very dif­fer­ent Bal­ti­more than was por­trayed in the end­less replay­ing of prop­er­ty destruc­tion. I watched hun­dreds of res­i­dents, led by pas­tors and oth­er com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, lit­er­al­ly join hands to bring the unrest to an end and then to keep the peace through the rest of the week. I saw hun­dreds more come out of their hous­es very ear­ly the next morn­ing, self-orga­nized and moti­vat­ed by deep com­mu­ni­ty pride, to clean up the rem­nants of the destruc­tion and to offer help to their neigh­bors. For days after, I saw thou­sands of Bal­ti­more cit­i­zens march­ing peace­ful­ly but insis­tent­ly to press for justice.

And in the weeks since that one night of unrest, the city of Bal­ti­more has con­tin­ued to come togeth­er to chart a path for­ward. May­or Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake has announced the cre­ation of One Bal­ti­more as a com­pre­hen­sive pub­lic-pri­vate ini­tia­tive to sup­port oppor­tu­ni­ties for the city’s chil­dren, fam­i­lies and neigh­bor­hoods. One Bal­ti­more will focus on areas the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion knows are crit­i­cal to the long-term suc­cess of this com­mu­ni­ty and its cit­i­zens such as edu­ca­tion, employ­ment, and minor­i­ty- and women-owned busi­ness opportunities. 

The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is sup­port­ing both the imme­di­ate needs of our com­mu­ni­ties and the work with part­ners to address the sys­temic chal­lenges made clear by recent events. In the short term, Casey has iden­ti­fied an ini­tial set of new grants total­ing near­ly $3 mil­lion to increase youth employ­ment and sum­mer oppor­tu­ni­ties. Near­ly 8,000 young peo­ple between the ages of 14 and 21 have reg­is­tered for sum­mer jobs under the city’s Youth Works pro­gram, but the pro­gram has mon­ey and posi­tions for only 5,000. A sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the Foundation’s new grant­mak­ing is going to help the city pro­vide addi­tion­al sum­mer jobs. We also have expand­ed our fund­ing of sum­mer recre­ation­al and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties through grants to com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions through­out the city.

In addi­tion to con­fronting these imme­di­ate needs, we intend to invest in long-term strate­gies to pro­mote oppor­tu­ni­ty among Baltimore’s chil­dren, youth and their families.

We have expand­ed our sup­port for com­mu­ni­ty groups that are work­ing hard to bring togeth­er young peo­ple and oth­er res­i­dents in hon­est and some­times chal­leng­ing dia­logue about what we all need to do to improve our city. As part of that effort, Casey host­ed a meet­ing on May 11 between local fun­ders and dozens of city youth lead­ers from com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing and stu­dent lead­er­ship groups to raise aware­ness of young people’s per­spec­tives, gath­er data and gen­er­ate ideas for mov­ing forward. 

We are just one of many foun­da­tions involved. Work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion through the Asso­ci­a­tion of Bal­ti­more Area Grant­mak­ers (ABAG), local fun­ders are shar­ing ideas and resources, and align­ing strate­gies. Nation­al foun­da­tions and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions are offer­ing to help as well, in part­ner­ship with the local foun­da­tions and oth­er civic leaders. 

Beyond finan­cial sup­port and fos­ter­ing dia­logue between con­cerned stake­hold­ers, we believe we must con­front and over­come the deep­er chal­lenges fac­ing our city, which are the same chal­lenges faced by many com­mu­ni­ties across our nation. Chang­ing our tra­jec­to­ry demands reform of deep-root­ed poli­cies and prac­tices that have denied far too many of our cit­i­zens oppor­tu­ni­ty and hope. Again, work­ing with oth­ers, we are devel­op­ing and refin­ing ideas that we will explore with key part­ners in the com­ing weeks.

For exam­ple, for many years, we have pro­mot­ed sen­si­ble, proven poli­cies and prac­tices to advance need­ed reforms in the juve­nile and crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tems, and we plan to expand our work on these issues in Bal­ti­more. We will also join efforts to cre­ate path­ways to suc­cess for our youth and young adults, who too often are dis­con­nect­ed from work and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties. And we will sup­port the work of One Bal­ti­more to bridge the divides of race, income, geog­ra­phy and back­ground, and to help set this city of promise on a new course.

Bal­ti­more is our home­town, and invest­ing in our com­mu­ni­ty is not new. In the past decade, Casey has invest­ed more than $90 mil­lion in Bal­ti­more through grants to more than 300 orga­ni­za­tions. We know well how much this com­mu­ni­ty needs sup­port, and we will redou­ble our efforts to cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ty and hope through our part­ner­ships across many sectors.

It will take all of us work­ing for Bal­ti­more to make our city live up to the words on bench­es around town: the great­est city in Amer­i­ca.” And that can hap­pen only when all our chil­dren have the bright future they deserve.

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