WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, have announced a five-year, $29.5 million U.S. Department of Education grant for University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Promise Heights program to continue its efforts to strengthen the financial, physical and emotional health of children and families in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Upton/Druid Heights. With the matching contributions of state and local governments and community partners, this grant brings a total reinvestment in West Baltimore of more than $110 million.
Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education as part of its Promise Neighborhoods Implementation Grants Program. Today’s grant is one of 24 Promise Neighborhood awards given since 2011, and the only one in Maryland. The Promise Neighborhoods program supports schools in high-poverty communities in an effort to help them provide more apprenticeship and job opportunities, expand substance abuse prevention initiatives, and increase educational resources for students, in addition to other services. Promise Heights is an initiative led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and is aimed at combating poverty and increasing academic achievement in the local community.
“This federal investment in West Baltimore is the direct work of our city’s elected, institutional and civic leaders coming together to address the cradle to career needs in their community,” said Senator Cardin. “As a delegation, we made a promise to continue to invest in Baltimore. These funds continue to meet that promise, and will have a positive, lasting impact on the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhoods. Further, Promise Heights is a fantastic model for communities to address challenges such as the need to reduce infant mortality rates, improve services for residents facing substance abuse issues, support neighborhood schools, increase apprenticeship opportunities for students, and provide our young residents with safe places to learn after school.”
“Addressing the needs of our communities means investing in our children at every stage of their development – from early childhood education to preparing them for college and careers – and providing for their mental health along the way. I’ve had the privilege of seeing this effort in action at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School and this funding will build on the progress from the earlier planning grant to help children succeed and provide them with community support to grow and thrive,” said Senator Van Hollen. “I will continue fighting to ensure that every child in Maryland has the opportunity and the resources they need to achieve their dreams. Partnerships like Promise Neighborhoods can accomplish this goal.”
“I commend the University of Maryland School of Social Work for leading the effort to bring together partners on the federal, state and local levels to create a model that puts education at the center of community revitalization in West Baltimore,” Congressman Cummings said. “Education is an essential tool in our fight against poverty, and the wrap-around academic and social services that this grant will support will help bolster the Upton/Druid Heights community for students and families and create lasting change.”
This grant builds on the $500,000 planning grant awarded to Promise Heights in 2013, which generated the capacity to deliver and evaluate a full array of evidence-based services, and garner matching funds from local foundations, and local, state, and federal partners. The planning grant was used to collect data, convene focus groups and meet with school principals to determine the needs of the neighborhood.
Money from today’s implementation grant will be used to bring additional support to the five Baltimore City Public Schools in Upton/Druid Heights, such as early childhood mental health consultation, social-emotional support, academic support and enrichment, and college and career coaching to ensure pathways out of poverty for youth and their families. Targeted schools in the neighborhood include: Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School; Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy; The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary; Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts; and Renaissance Academy High School.
The U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods program provides funding to support eligible entities – including nonprofit organizations – that support the vision of all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods having access to great schools and strong systems of community support, which will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.