IPACE Fellows standing at mural at Kirby Lane Park

Fellows have first in-person meeting at community-designed park in Franklin Square.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Interprofessional Program for Academic Community Engagement (IPACE) Fellows Program seeks to advance community engagement initiatives through teaching, scholarly programs, community-focused research, and community-engaged practice. 

During this one-year program, UMB staff, faculty, and community leaders receive mentoring and training on the principles of community-academic engagement, the pedagogy of service learning, the frameworks for social determinants of health, and competencies for interprofessional education. A key goal of the fellowship is to strengthen and sustain collaborations between UMB professional schools and Baltimore communities. 

To date, there have been two cohorts of IPACE Fellows. The second cohort began meeting virtually in March 2021 and due to COVID-19 restrictions has only been able to meet online. However, in November, the 2021-2022 cohort was able to gather in-person to visit a community park called Kirby Lane, located in West Baltimore’s Franklin Square.   

When visiting Kirby Lane on this unusually warm day in November, fellows had the honor of meeting with Donald Quarles and Daniel Greenspan, who highlighted the importance of partnership between the community and Bon Secours Community Works, respectively. Together Greenspan and Quarles focused on the cessation of chronic illegal dumping and over the course of a few years, established a green space and serenity garden — Kirby Lane Park — in Quarles’ neighborhood. Quarles has lived in the area for nearly 50 years and has big visions for continued transformation of this neighborhood. He inspired the IPACE Fellows by sharing his story and his commitment to creating a space that brings healing, hope, and serenity to the neighborhood. Greenspan, an IPACE fellow from the first cohort and manager of Community Design & Engagement at Bon Secours Community Works, has worked tirelessly with Quarles to support the transformation of Kirby Lane Park into a beautiful, healing space. 

The deliberate, community-driven design of Kirby Lane Park has allowed for the gradual expansion of the park at the request of community members. After the initial development, the park has since expanded to include a playground, a stage, cooking space, and a mural. Presently, a lot adjacent to the park is being developed to include an urban farm. This expansion has been made possible through ongoing partnership with Bon Secours Community Works, which has a longstanding footprint addressing health disparities in West Baltimore.  

Fellows also had the opportunity to visit other sites supported by Bon Secours Community Works, including the site of a future splash pad for children in the neighborhood. The splash pad is the vision of neighborhood resident Shakira Franklin and is slated for completion by summer 2022. The fellows also visited Bon Secours’ urban farm, and learned about the extensive housing renovation programs that have addressed housing as a social determinant of health for local communities by facilitating safe and affordable homes.   

Each fellow has a unique project they are working on as part of the IPACE Fellowship and will present on their work at the end of the fellowship. Because of this community visit, UMB is exploring ways to collaborate with the leaders of Kirby Lane Park. The School of Nursing has an established relationship with Bon Secours Community Works and will explore additional opportunities as a result of this visit.  

Quarles, who warmly welcomed the fellows, further requested that UMB “collaborate together to attend to people who are struggling with hurts, habits, and hang-ups.”

Fellows were inspired to come together and listen to these inspiring visionaries, and will now explore opportunities to support these dedicated community leaders who are creating places of serenity. 

If you are interested in participating in or learning more about future IPACE Community Engagement Fellowships, please email Cailin Yasunaga at cyasunaga@umaryland.edu.

Photo credits: Lori Edwards, Chris Manoto, Cailin Yasunaga 


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