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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KABOOM Playground

SSW/KaBOOM! Playground Build at Gilmor Elementary

Let’s build a playground for Gilmor Elementary students and the children who reside in Sandtown-Winchester!

KaBOOM! is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve, filled with balance and active play so they can thrive.

Although Gilmor has a small playground, it is in poor shape and not large enough for the school population and community residents. We Need YOUR Help!

Join us as we team up to build the Gilmor playground!

We are seeking 200 volunteers. No skills, training, or special tools required. You just have to be 18 or older, enthusiastic, energetic, a team player, willing to work, and want to have fun!

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
1311 N Gilmor St., Baltimore, MD 21217

Email Promise Heights for more information or to sign up.

Matt ConnCommunity Service, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, University LifeSeptember 23, 20150 comments
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Gilmor Elementary Volunteers

Getting Gilmor Elementary Ready for Fall

Helping Gilmor Elementary School prepare to open the fall semester later this month, the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) recruited volunteers to build 16 computer tables and troubleshoot more than a dozen other tables.

Students, staff and faculty from SSW and others responded Aug. 20. As SSW Dean Richard Barth said in his call for volunteers, “Although most of our work in West Baltimore is in Southwest or in Promise Heights, we have a special concern about Sandtown Winchester after the recent unrest.” He and other members of SSW leadership were among the social workers who took up tools and used community-organizing skills to keep their own and walk-on volunteers on pace. All were ready before noon to gather in the gym to receive hearty thanks from Gilmor Principal Curtis Durham.

SSW Assistant and Promise Heights Executive Director Bronwyn Mayden, along with Program Director Rachel Donegan coordinated the volunteers and were joined by Stacey Stephens, director of B’more for Healthy Babies – Upton/Druid Heights. Some volunteers brought their own toolkits; she brought her son, Solomon, who helped shove heavy boxes into place and more. And doctoral student Mathew Uretsky performed the final task dreaded by do-it-yourselfers everywhere – checking the array of newly stacked tables for any missing or leftover screws, nuts, and bolts.

Matt ConnCollaboration, Community Service, For B'more, Global & Community EngagementAugust 25, 20150 comments
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Bronwyn Mayden

Improving Young Lives

From her early days as an advocate for adolescent and reproductive health and civil rights, to her current work as executive director of Promise Heights, an academic‒community partnership in one of Baltimore’s neediest communities, Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, is dedicated to improving the lives of young people and their families.

“I am proud of work the University of Maryland, Baltimore is doing in West Baltimore,” says Mayden. “All of the UMB schools work in the Promise Heights community on this initiative.”

Promise Heights is a cradle-to-college-to-career program in the West Baltimore neighborhoods of Upton and Druid Heights. Representatives of UMB’s six professional schools base their work in the four public schools there to reach students, families, and residents as they move through the pipeline of services and programs, many of them originated or coordinated by UMB.

Mayden and her team use a framework of school and community indicators to measure how well they’re doing on behalf of the neighborhoods’ students and families. The program is partially funded through a U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhoods grant, but also by the Maryland State Department of Education, the Family League of Baltimore, and local foundations. Promise Heights partners with faith-based, government, and nonprofit organizations.

Mayden was drawn to social work because of her childhood experiences with civil rights. She recalls the day her mother and older sister marched to integrate a Baltimore amusement park, and someone spat on her sister.

Around that time, Mayden’s elementary school was one of the first to integrate in Baltimore City. “I didn’t understand why the kindergarten teacher treated me differently from my peers,” she says. “My schoolwork was never displayed on bulletin boards, and rarely was I called upon in class. I believe that injustice ignited my desire to become involved in social justice issues.”

Today, Mayden and her colleagues improve the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children and families. “Working with a dedicated staff, we try to make sure every child receives whatever he or she needs, whether it is help with math, counseling because of a crisis at home, or simply a pair of eyeglasses,” says Mayden. “We want every child to be healthy and successful.”

Mayden, an alumna of UMB’s School of Social Work, says she’s most inspired by “the children and families, how they work so hard to overcome the odds.” Like her mother, a career public school teacher, she thrives on the rewards that come from helping shape future generations.

“Bronwyn has a remarkably fast mind, enormous stamina, the capacity to make strong relationships quickly and nurture them for years, the clarity to work with a wide array of people to develop powerful ideas for community engagement and improvement, and to get funding for them,” says Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, dean of the School of Social Work. “Bronwyn’s dedication to improving the culture of parenting and the educational programs in West Baltimore knows no bounds. I count myself most fortunate to know this champion for change.”

Champions CampaignCollaboration, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, People, UMB News, University LifeSeptember 12, 20140 comments
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Promise Heights Helps Build Playground in West Baltimore

Public school children without a playground in their impoverished neighborhoods have gotten on with the help of Promise Heights, a University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) initiative led by the School of Social Work (SSW). The process started with a graduate student’s grant application to improve the youngster’s physical fitness.

State-of-the-Art Playground

What resulted is no ordinary tot lot. Baltimore-based Laureate Education, Inc., donated and constructed a state-of-the-art playground to serve the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (HSCT) Elementary School and its neighborhood, which is less than a mile from UMB.

On June 6, when students left for the weekend, they got a last glance at an unadorned field that had been their only option for decades. On Monday, one look promised much more as lumber and parts awaited assembly under the direction of play-space expert KaBOOM! On Tuesday, the field was teaming with hundreds of Laureate-led volunteers assisted by co-builders from UMB, HSCT and the Upton-Druid Heights community.

An Honor to Give Back

By 6:45 p.m. on June 10, it was time for a ribbon-cutting as volunteers were joined by dignitaries including SSW Dean Richard Barth, PhD, MSW; Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, assistant dean and Promise Heights executive director; Rachel Donegan, JD, Promise Heights program director; and Kevin Enright, executive director of strategic initiatives, School of Medicine (SOM).

Laureate’s founder and chief executive officer, Douglas Becker, addressed a crowd of about 400 men, women, and children, many wearing “Here for Good” T-shirts from Laureate. “It’s a great honor to give back to the community that has given me – and Laureate Education – so much,” said Becker, a Baltimore native. “We are committed to doing work that is here for good in every community in which we operate.”

Sense of Community

Laureate provides undergraduate, graduate, and working-adult education through online and campus-based programs in 29 countries. Nearly 300 of its global executives came together on Build Day.

HSCT Principal Harold Barber, EdD, said the new playground “will help foster that sense of community that we cherish.”

HSCT draws more than 400 children from Upton/Druid Heights, where about half of the families live in poverty, according to Baltimore City Health Department data. Through a Promise Neighborhoods federal planning grant, UMB’s Promise Heights initiative works to empower residents and improve the lives of children from before birth to age 21.

HSCT is one of two public schools in Upton-Druid Heights that is a Community School, partnering with SSW. Its Community School coordinator, Henriette Taylor, prepared for Build Day with the assistance of Promise Heights interns Brittney Pitts and Amanda Malone, who are SSW students. Pitts, who expects to complete work toward her MSW next year, drafted much of the successful grant proposal.

Calling All Volunteers!

It was at an Upton community planning meeting that Mayden put out a call for local volunteers. In turn, Joyce Green, a neighborhood liaison to the Central District of the Baltimore Police Department, asked for help. The department sent 21 trainees, who spread 110 cubic yards of mulch.

“They were so happy to help out the HSCT, the students, Promise Heights and the community,” says Green, an Upton resident. “It was awesome. In a little over six hours, 300-plus people turned an open green space into a safe place for kids at the community and the school to play.”

Allowing Others to Contribute

From UMB, Ebenezer Oloyede, MD, MPH, clinical research specialist at the School of Pharmacy, treated volunteers’ scrapes and cuts. SOM’s Vanessa Carroll, director of special projects, assisted in the medical tent. SOM assistant professor Yvette Rooks, MD, pitched in by donating lunches for 200 people and 450 kids’ gift bags with health-related items.

“This Build Day is a perfect example of what our Community Schools program does in Baltimore,” says Barth. “We bring in resources and give other people the privilege and joy of contributing to the success of the schools that we support.”

Barth went back to the playground the next Saturday, taking his granddaughter. They found the chalkboard at the outdoor classroom well covered with children’s handwriting and nearly 50 children swinging, sliding, and climbing. “The playground was bubbling with joy and hope,” he says.

Matt ConnFor B'more, Global & Community Engagement, UMB NewsJuly 3, 20141 comment
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Promise Heights Earns Grants for Work in West Baltimore

Promise Heights, a partnership led by the School of Social Work, is working with partners in West Baltimore to help create a pipeline of interconnected services that begins with prenatal care and continues through college to career. The group was recently awarded four grants to assist in that effort.

Financial Support for Families

The United Way of Central Maryland has funded Promise Heights to provide financial support services to families in the Upton/Druid Heights community. The Promise Heights Family Stability Program looks to help families build credit, reduce debt, increase savings, and increase income, as well as prevent family homelessness and reduce student mobility. This will be achieved through case management, tax preparation and benefits screening, financial education, and financial assistance, as needed. This program will be able to support 20 families.

Summer Learning Program

The Family League of Baltimore City awarded Promise Heights a grant to coordinate and run a summer learning program at The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (HSCT) Elementary School. HSCT’s Expanded Summer Learning Program will focus on reading skills for 4th and 5th grade students to help prevent summer learning loss as well as help with the transition to their new grade in the fall.

Promoting Optimal Health Care

Promise Heights and the School of Medicine’s pediatrics department, who collaborated with Ready at Five to create health-related Learning Parties, will be bringing an engaging curriculum promoting optimal health care to children in Upton/Druid Heights courtesy of funding from the Center for Community Based Engagement and Learning.

Five Learning Parties, each including five individual sessions, will be conducted over a one-year period for children at Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy and HSCT. Investigators will study the change in the number of participating children who have a primary care physician, emergency department and urgent care use before and after participating, and the caregiver’s confidence in their ability to manage their children’s health and access the health care system.

Advocating Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The Henry and Ruth Blaustein-Rosenberg Foundation is one of two foundations who have funded Promise Heights B’more for Healthy Babies – Upton/Druid Heights’ efforts around teen pregnancy prevention and health education. Ten sessions of sexuality education workshops will be conducted for students at the Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts.

Read more about Promise Heights.

Matt ConnCollaboration, For B'more, University LifeJuly 1, 20140 comments
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Flat Stanley Visits the School of Social Work

After pretending to be a judge in the Francis King Carey School of Law‘s Moot Court Room, Flat Stanley took a tour of the School of Social Work.

He explains, “The next stop on our tour was to see the School of Social Work, founded in 1961. I learned that this school is well-known for its community outreach programs. One program that we talked about, Promise Heights, works with the communities of West Baltimore to help them succeed in work and family life. That’s such a great idea!”

Where will Stanley pop up next? Check back next week.

Sarah RebackGlobal & Community Engagement, University LifeApril 11, 20140 comments
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Promise Heights at Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School

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School of Social Work (SSW) Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW; and Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, executive director of Promise Heights and SSW assistant dean, were introduced to a large gathering of community leaders, parents, and educators at a ceremony on Sept. 23 at the Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School (HSCT), 507 W. Preston St. in West Baltimore.

After months of renovation work, HSCT dedicated a completely redesigned and relocated library made possible by a grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, part of the foundation’s $10 million Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project. One aspect of the project is an Enoch Pratt Parent Place, furnished with armchairs and designed for the parents and guardians of the 420 students enrolled at HSCT.

Speakers at the event included HSCT Principal Harold Barber, EdD; Senior Pastor Alvin C. Hathaway of Union Baptist Church, which is among Promise Heights’ faith-based partners; Amy Rosenkrans, director of the Office of Humanities at Baltimore City Public Schools; Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, JD ’81; and Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young.

Want to read the full story?


The ElmFor B'more, Global & Community Engagement, UMB NewsOctober 10, 20130 comments
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Promise Heights in West Baltimore

Leaders from the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and city officials on two recent occasions have been invited to see for themselves how expanded opportunities at two elementary schools can brighten the lives of families in the Promise Heights neighborhood.

Principals at The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School (HSCT) and Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy (FLT) opened their doors to show off the schools’ latest amenities and accomplishments. Each public school is located only a short distance from the UMB campus in Upton/Druid Heights, a high-poverty part of Baltimore that is the focus of the UMB-led Promise Heights initiative.

The initiative is partially funded by a Promise Neighborhoods planning grant from the U.S. Department of Education and led by the School of Social Work (SSW) in collaboration with the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and others.

SSW Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW; and Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, executive director of Promise Heights and SSW assistant dean, were introduced to a large gathering of community leaders, parents, and educators at a ceremony on Sept. 23 at HSCT, 507 W. Preston St. in West Baltimore.

After months of renovation work, HSCT dedicated a completely redesigned and relocated library made possible by a grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, part of the foundation’s $10 million Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project. One aspect of the project is an Enoch Pratt Parent Place, furnished with armchairs, designed for parents and guardians of the 420 students enrolled at HSCT.

“Read every book in this room,” Mayden admonished the youngsters chosen to represent each grade, including pre-kindergarten, reminding them in so many words of the goal of Promise Heights: to improve the lives of children from cradle to college or career. “When you’re ready for graduate school, see us on our campus,” she said. “You are the future doctors, nurses, social workers, and pharmacists, and I want you to take care of me!”

Speakers included HSCT Principal Harold Barber, EdD; Senior Pastor Alvin C. Hathaway of Union Baptist Church, which is among Promise Heights’ faith-based partners; Amy Rosenkrans, director of the Office of Humanities at Baltimore City Public Schools; Baltimore State’s Attorney Gregg Bernstein, JD ’81; and Baltimore City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young.

It was Young who told the children that reading has a practical side, such as building vocabulary, but can mean far more. “Books take you anywhere around the world,” he said. Given that, HSCT pupils have endless destinations ahead.

The Heart of America Foundation provided nearly 1,500 books on the day of the ceremony so each child was able to take home three or four books at the proper reading level to start their personal libraries. At school, under the guidance of librarian Emmanuel Faulkner, the children can utilize an attractive, flexible space equipped with an array of titles, technology, and areas designed for special uses.

During the dedication, one special area became a stage for a reading by author Tremontenia Morgan, school secretary at HSCT, who then led her African dance troupe in a performance of the funga, a dance that is the subject of her book.

The Heart of America and the Maryland Food Bank partnered with the Weinberg Foundation to make HSCT the site of a mobile food pantry. Starting on dedication day, families who registered were able to take home 25 pounds of food per child.

Promise Heights staff helping with the giveaway and tours of the library were Mayden; Rachel Donegan, JD, program director of Promise Heights; Liz Buchanan, MSW ’13, LGSW, the HSCT Community Resource School site coordinator (who is shown with a young reader in the photo above); and Claire Meringolo, LCSW-C, mental health consultant at HSCT’s Judy Center, part of the Judith P. Hoyer Program in the Maryland State Department of Education.

As a result of the library vacating its former space at HSCT, Meringolo and the rest of the Judy Center staff were able to relocate their services, allowing more room to offer mental health services and family literacy to families with children up to age 5.

The first Promise Heights partner school to house early childhood services was FLT, 1200 N. Pennsylvania Ave., which now offers not only a Judy Center but also the Metro Delta Head Start program and the Martin Luther King Jr. Early Head Start program.

That portion of the public charter school building was on the tour Sept. 9 when FLT Principal Debra Santos welcomed University President Jay A. Perman, MD, and other UMB leaders. Perman, a pediatrician, soon took on the challenge of attempting to soothe a fussy 23-month old who, at that moment, was being held by JaVon Townsend, MSW ’12, LGSW, who helps staff the Early Head Start program.

Upstairs at FLT, which operates on a year-round academic schedule and emphasizes use of technology in its curriculum, UMB visitors observed first-graders learning the basics in a computer lab and third-graders using tablets and an interactive whiteboard. The tools were high-tech yet the students’ recent subject matter was ancient: Greek mythology.

As the group paused at a wall display of the class papers on the Pandora myth, Perman and others were pleased to see a notation about the collaborative nature of the project, given that collaboration is a core value of the University.

The UMB group, which also visited HSCT, included Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, chief academic and research officer, senior vice president, and dean of the Graduate School; Peter N. Gilbert, MSF, chief operating officer and senior vice president; Laura Kozak, MA, assistant vice president, communications and public affairs; and the SSW’s Mayden and Barth. Barth is a member of the FLT board.

Early childhood development also is the focus of a Promise Heights program called Parent University that for the fourth time in as many years is teaching parents how to best engage with their infants and toddlers and keep them safe and healthy.

The 10-week session is held at Pennsylvania Avenue AME Zion Church, a faith-based partner, and began Oct. 1. This is the largest class yet, with several three-generation families and 24 families (more than 45 people) with children from birth to age 3 participating.

Students, staff, and faculty at UMB are encouraged to volunteer at Parent University and other activities of Promise Heights such as a FamilyFest, held recently at the Robert C. Marshall Recreation Center field across Pennsylvania Avenue from FLT and the Day of Hope and Promise, held in August.

Patricia FanningCollaboration, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, UMB NewsOctober 4, 20133 comments
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Reaching New Heights

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School of Social Work (SSW) faculty and staff show off the latest accomplishments of the Promise Heights Initiative.

On Sept. 9, Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy (FLT) Principal Debra Santos welcomed University President Jay A. Perman, MD, and other UMB leaders. Perman, a pediatrician, soon took on the challenge of attempting to soothe a fussy 23-month old who, at that moment, was being held by JaVon Townsend, MSW ’12, LGSW, who helps staff Early Head Start.

The UMB group included Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, chief academic and research officer, senior vice president, and dean of the Graduate School; Peter N. Gilbert, MSF, chief operating officer and senior vice president; Laura Kozak, assistant vice president, communications and public affairs; and the SSW’s Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, executive director of Promise Heights and assistant dean; and Dean Richard P. Barth, PhD, MSW, who is also a member of the FLT board.

For the full story, click here. Photos by Alex Likowski.


The ElmCollaboration, For B'more, Global & Community Engagement, UMB NewsOctober 4, 20130 comments
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