Promise Heights posts displayed by tag

Housing Authority of Baltimore City Build Day

KaBoom at McCulloh Homes

570 W. Preston St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017
8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Volunteer Opportunity

Volunteers are needed for a playground build in West Baltimore. 200 volunteers are needed to bring play to the “Magnificent” McCulloh Homes public housing development. Join neighbors as we endeavor to build a new playground for kids in the community to enjoy.

  • Volunteers should be age 18+ and will assemble playground pieces, mix concrete, move mulch, etc.
  • Wear comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and closed toe shoes; leave valuables at home.
  • Youth activities provided.
  • Gloves, goggles, breakfast, and lunch will be provided.

Play is central to a child’s ability to grow into a productive adult. Together, we can ensure kids get the balance of play they need to thrive! Please join us and show the kids that play matters to you.

To sign up for HABC’s Build Day, please visit the volunteer registration website. For more information, please email Anita Chavis or call 410-396-4529.

If you’re unable to attend in person, we hope that you will show your support for the cause of playin McCulloh Homes by joining the conversation online on August 26th using the hashtag

The event is hosted by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City in coordination with the School of Social Work’s Promise Heights Program.

William JoynerBulletin Board, Community Service, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB NewsAugust 4, 20170 comments
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CPA’s Fanning Named Employee of Month

The roles were reversed on Nov. 17 at an Employee of the Month event, and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, was loving it.

“Who’s flashing?” he asked as photos were being taken. “Me, sorry,” Alex Likowski, director of media relations, said apologetically before a room of Communications and Public Affairs (CPA) staff.

“No, keep doing it,” Perman responded with a smile, “because that’s what she does to me.”

Patricia Fanning

Fanning receives award from Dr. Perman

“She” is Patricia Fanning, who as senior media relations specialist in CPA does a lot more than take Perman’s picture at events. UMB’s November Employee of the Month “is the hardest and longest working, most dedicated, and most caring employee any of us in CPA knows,” Likowski said in his nomination.

He spoke of the yeoman effort Fanning made in placing a series of stories involving the Renaissance Academy (RA) and student Khalil Bridges. RA sits in one of the city’s poorest, most violent neighborhoods. Before June, the headlines it earned were roundly tragic. Three of Renaissance’s students were killed during the last year — one of them stabbed in biology class. But RA also is a Promise Heights school, which means members of the School of Social Work (SSW) are in the school every day, lifting graduation rates and spirits.

Fanning’s years of work behind the scenes paid off last summer. The Sun ran “Renaissance Academy High grieves after three killings, still sees hope for future” and then a follow-up story about the aspirations of RA graduates. The Washington Post followed with “Coming of age in a city coming apart,” which also referenced Promise Heights and the SSW. Still not finished, Fanning helped SSW colleagues write letters to the editor that appeared in The Sun and The Post, continuing the momentum.

Then, on June 23, The Post ran “Soar Khalil Soar.” The story, about how Bridges graduated from RA last spring against heartbreaking odds, touched heartstrings and purse strings. Within a week, donations to a college fund set up for Khalil outstripped the $30,000 goal.

Fanning, who worked for The Sun for 23 years before coming to UMB in 2009, said she surmounted various obstacles in placing the RA stories.

“I remember coaxing Khalil, who just days before had turned 18, to speak to a TV crew awaiting an interview. That required impromptu media training, with encouragement from the SSW’s Community Schools coordinator, on a rowhouse stoop across the street from his school. Separately, I persuaded Khalil to retool his letter to Baltimore City Public Schools officials as a letter to the editor, which I placed in The Sun to raise his and UMB’s public profile.”

But doing what’s in her job description isn’t the only thing that makes Fanning stand out to her colleagues. It’s things like at 6:30 p.m. Friday, most of her co-workers long gone, getting ready to transport food that had been refrigerated after a University event earlier in the day to an extended family living nearby. What’s more, it’s her having helped three children in that family enroll in A Bridge to Academic Excellence, a tutoring program based at the School of Pharmacy (SOP). And it’s doing outreach for her Howard County neighbors as well as the West Baltimore neighbors she works with at UMB.

As Laura Kozak, MA, associate vice president in CPA, pointed out at the Employee of the Month ceremony, Fanning works with icepacks on her jaw right after dental surgery and staves off Lyme disease to finish assignments related to SSW and the School of Nursing (her previous beats) and to current duties of UMB community engagement, SOP, and the School of Dentistry.

So sure enough, after the Renaissance Academy series of stories had abated and the TV crews had left, Fanning went a step further. “I have continued to keep up with Khalil,” she says. “I went to Jo-Ann Fabric and made a scrapbook for his mom. Later I found one of my son’s childhood friends in Khalil’s chosen field who is now serving as a mentor.”

As Perman said at the ceremony, where Fanning received a plaque and $250 in her next paycheck, “Your colleagues nominated you because they see that when you do something, you’re all in. It means a lot to them and it means a lot to me because when you do something all in, you’re projecting how wonderful this institution is. You’ve done that over and over again.”

What does the award mean to Fanning?

“It’s a validation of the teamwork and relationships required to accomplish either personal or institutional goals,” she says. “The 2016 Promise Heights coverage actually began in 2014 with The Sun’s ‘Collateral Damage’ series that involved my connecting former colleagues at the paper with people at SSW and with West Baltimore residents whom I had come to know through Project Heights.”

And she’s not done contributing, be it at UMB or in Howard County, where she chairs outreach for her church, helps the homeless, assists Habitat for Humanity-related projects, and volunteers with the Parks Department at GreenFest.

She says it’s her way of saying thanks.

“Years ago after a horrific car accident, my life was spared by first responders and trauma surgeons. I’ve felt compelled to make good use of that gift ever since.”

— Chris Zang

Chris ZangABAE, Bulletin Board, Collaboration, Community Service, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB News, University Administration, University LifeDecember 2, 20161 comment
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Potbelly Fundraiser for Promise Heights

Come support Promise Heights by treating yourself to Potbelly’s! For every purchase made, Promise Heights will receive 25 percent of the donation.

The Promise Heights (PH) Initiative of UMB provides a multitude of services to the Upton/Druid Heights community of West Baltimore to assuage the impacts of socioeconomic inequality. Implemented through a place-based, comprehensive model, PH supplements the neighborhood’s strengths with child, family, and community-building programs facilitated by licensed social workers.

Our young people and families can greatly benefit from monetary donations to help purchase the following items:

  • Notebooks – $3 for 2
  • Backpacks – $12 per backpack
  • Youth Gloves and Scarves – $5 per item
  • Youth Winter Shoes – $25 per pair
  • Youth Winter Coats – $30 per coat
  • Diapers – $15 per pack

Nov. 14, 2016
4 to 7 p.m.

519 W. Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

We look forward to seeing you on Monday! If you can’t make it, please consider donating. If you have questions, please email Anna at

Anna Alikhani Bulletin Board, For B'more, People, UMB NewsNovember 10, 20160 comments
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Annual School Supply Drive

It’s school supply buying time again, which also means it’s time for the Staff Senate to begin our annual school supply drive!

The UMB Staff Senate’s Community Outreach Committee is collecting school supplies to distribute to UMB partner elementary schools within Baltimore’s West Side. Look for the blue collection totes in your building/school, or if you would like to host a tote in your building/school, please email Lois Warner. Donations also can be dropped off to Lois at 620 W. Lexington St., 2nd Floor, cubicle 2B05.

The last day to donate is Wednesday, Aug. 31. Don’t forget to take advantage of Maryland Tax-free Week, Aug. 14-20!

If you don’t have time to shop – the Staff Senate has an Community Outreach Funding page where you can make a secure donation (and receive a receipt).

Thank you and happy shopping!

The Staff Senate

Lois WarnerBulletin Board, Community Service, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB News, University Life, USGAAugust 29, 20160 comments
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Oral Care for the Underserved

The local school is more than just a place for educating kids. For many neighborhoods it is a de facto community center, providing social services, food and clothing, and basic health services for both students and families in need where there are no affordable alternatives in place.

At the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in West Baltimore, a successful partnership between the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) and School of Dentistry (SOD) has helped bridge the oral education and care gap in a community that has limited options when it comes to dentistry.

“Children have so many needs that dental care often gets swept under the rug,” said Clemencia Vargas, DDS, PhD, associate professor at SOD in the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, “We didn’t see any signs of dental treatment on our first visit, and 40 percent of kids had active decay.”

Vargas’ career has included dental practice, research, and teaching in her native Colombia and the United States. Yet some of her greatest satisfaction and pride has come from organizing oral care outreach efforts for underserved schools, including a successful 10-year partnership with Wolfe Street Academy in East Baltimore. Samuel-Coleridge Taylor presented the types of challenges that Vargas has become familiar with in Baltimore City. In an effort to address oral health gaps, Vargas engaged in a collaboration with SSW through the Promise Heights initiative. This is a partnership between UMB and community-based nonprofits and faith-based organizations to improve the educational, social, health, and economic opportunities of children from birth to young adulthood.

In order to effectively implement this program, SSW employs an onsite facilitator at Samuel Coleridge Taylor – Angel Bettleyon, LSW – who serves as a mental health consultant at the DRU Judy Center located at the school, which serves families and children from birth to five years old. Given her first-hand experience working with the school community, Bettleyon is aware of how lack of dental care can have subtle effects on student behavior:

“If you have a terrible toothache, and if you can’t communicate that and nobody’s aware, then it will affect your performance.”

Over the first year, the Promise Heights initiative has made gradual progress in assisting parents to obtain oral care for their children, providing fluoridated toothpaste, toothbrushes, and cavity prevention kits to the students of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor elementary. In a community that’s often been ignored, building trust is an essential first step for families who may be wary of authority figures.

A major part of building trust is generating comfort between the student volunteers of SOD and children and parents. To this end, Promise Heights engaged in a “walking school bus” activity, in which SOD students dressed up in costumes, met with families and children, and walked with them to school. Bettleyon also helped to arrange two breakfasts – one in the spring and fall – between the dental volunteers and the students and parents at the school.

“Through these activities, the dental students are able to meet with the parents and chat with them in a different light, to see the parents as parents,” said Vargas.

In addition to engaging the community through activities like the walking school bus and the monthly breakfasts, SOD volunteers engaged in four screening events over the course of the year to provide oral health education and help parents settle into brushing routines with their kids. They distributed oral health starter kits to parents with children’s pajamas, a new book, a cavity prevention kit under a “Brush, Book, and Bed” initiative to help facilitate and support a consistent bedtime brushing routine.

“If parents are dealing with mental health issues, it impacts the way they respond to their children’s needs; and for others, it’s a lack of understanding or prioritizing other needs over a consistent routine,” said Bettleyon. “So many of these families were very thankful for the dental kits because it’s something they may not have been able to buy on their own, especially with their resources already being stretched so thin.”

Through the first year, the program has experienced progress: the number of signed consent forms has increased, and attendance has continued to rise at each of the educational events for parents held during the school year. As a result of this progress, Promise Heights received a second-year grant of $27,000 from the Thomas Wilson Sanitarium for Children of Baltimore City to continue provide education and screening services under the “No Cavities Here!” initiative.

Vargas credits the strong, steady leadership of the school for creating the type of environment that allowed “No Cavities Here!” to continue past its first year. For underserved schools, consistent leadership is often the difference between a successful intervention and a failed one, and Vargas credits Bettleyon, and Promise Heights in particular, for helping the program flourish.

“Angel Bettleyon is a fundamental piece. If we didn’t have her, we wouldn’t be able to work there,” Vargas said, “Promise Heights makes it easy, they have the connection with the community, they have the presence, and they are very pleased with the program. This program is succeeding because of how all of these have come together.”

Scott HeselABAE, Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB NewsAugust 12, 20160 comments
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Promise Heights Requests in Promise Heights

Two teachers, from Furman L. Templeton Academy in Promise Heights – a School of Social Work program in West Baltimore – have requested help for their classrooms from and are seeking contributions to make their classroom dreams come true.

Ms. Woods wants to bring math to life for her 4th graders by purchasing some manipulatives for her classroom. Donate to her classroom.

Mrs. Benton wants to buy some iPads with cases and headphones so students can practice their reading, math, and research skills. Donate to her classroom.

These are time-limited requests—if they do not reach their goals by Sept. 12, then they do not receive the materials. The Gates Foundation and other donors often kick in toward the end, if the project appears to be getting close. This is one small way to pitch in to help in West Baltimore.

Matt Conn ABAE, Collaboration, Community Service, Education, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, University Life, USGAJuly 19, 20160 comments
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