Community Impact

Objective A: Strengthening community engagement and partnerships in areas of education, research, and service

School Climate Framework Development

The Positive Schools Center convened a cadre of school climate experts, researchers, and practitioners to unite as a school community of practice. During the initial convening, the group agreed on a shared definition of school climate. It was decided that school climate is made up of 5 key pillars: leadership; positive relationships; engaging teaching and learning; welcoming environment; and safety. This definition is aligned with federal guidance on school climate and the work that had already begun in Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS). The Positive Schools Center has taken this shared definition and has established a framework to guide the school climate transformation work.

The Positive Schools Center has developed a school climate framework to guide this work.  The School Climate framework is based on the determined 5 pillars of school climate (leadership, positive relationships, teaching and learning, environment, and safety) and five foundational components: trauma responsive educational practices; restorative and healing practices; racial justice; social emotional learning; and developing student and family voice.

Through building a trauma-responsive restorative school that understands the need racial justice and social-emotional learning, and that values and engages students, families, and the communities, we will realize positive school climate change.

Over the course of the past year, the Positive Schools Center has had the opportunity to share this framework with local, statewide, and national stakeholders. 

Family Support Prevents Homelessness

SWCOS and Promise Heights operate Three Family Stability programs, funded by the United Way in Brooklyn/Curtis Bay, Dundalk and Upton/Druid Heights . The goal of the Family Stability program is to work with families at risk of homelessness and provide families with resources necessary to maintain their independence.  In all three of the programs, serving 20 families each, 100% of families have maintained stable housing, which is defined as not being at risk of eviction or foreclosure, or of experiencing termination of services by their energy company.

Strengthening Community Organizations

Promise Heights is enthusiastically engaged in building community capacity by working with three community-based non-profit organizations to strengthen their capacity to increase their funding sources.  The organizations have received over $100,000 in funding from five foundations to work on youth violence prevention and school readiness.

Community Economic Development

Working with the Baltimore Cash Campaign and Promise Heights,  667 West Baltimore residents completed income tax returns and received $856,626 in refunds- funds spent in the community.

Improving Population Health

Over the past two years, Promise Heights’ B-more for Healthy Babies has not had an infant death in the West Baltimore communities of Upton/Druid Heights.  Because of this success, the program has expanded to neighboring communities of Sandtown-Winchester and Mondawmin.

Objective B. Employ a board array of communication methods to increase the use of new findings, practices, and concepts

Community Schools Best Practices Shared Widely

SWCOS Community School, Wolfe Street Academy, and Community School Coordinator, Connie Phelps Bozek, were both featured prominently on Colorin Colorado, a bilingual site for educators and families of English language learners. In the feature video, Ms. Bozek describes the important work of the Community School Coordinator in supporting the students, parents and school staff in achieving their goals. Also featured was the important leadership role of parents in the school:

The School of Social Work had over 87 media stories, Op-Eds, and letters to the editor in national and local media vehicles aimed at directing the public agenda to important issues, reinforcing school and community-based programs, and building support for changes in public policy.

Objective C: Lead the University of Maryland in its goal to strengthen university-community partnerships in West Baltimore and beyond

Interdisciplinary Work in Poppleton

SWCOS partnered closely with the residents of the Vintage Gardens housing community; providing case management, emergency financial assistance, movie nights and community festivals. Led by a SWCOS clinical instructor, a group of social work students, medical students and Public Allies provided an after-school homework club for children in the housing community throughout the school year. Children demonstrated substantial gains in reading and math through the help of their tutors.

In-home intervention support in West Baltimore

Family Connections Baltimore (FCB) continued to provide research-based, in-home, early intervention services, grounded in neglect prevention science, for families living in West Baltimore. Now integrated into SWCOS, staff working in SWCOS Community Schools have a direct pathway to access the support provided by FCB for families identified as needing targeted or intensive services. FCB also hosted a Families Strong group, which is a group for family members of those experiencing substance abuse issues. This particular group was for grandparents raising grandchildren because of substance abuse issues in the family.

Team Service Projects support West Baltimore

Public Allies conducted team service projects throughout West Baltimore this year. The first was in the Shipley Hill neighborhood in partnership with Frederick Elementary School.  They created care packages for the homeless and distributed them throughout the community.  Allies also worked in the James McHenry community, in partnership with community members from the Poppleton/Vintage Gardens community on a beautification project where they rehabbed and restored a school garden at James McHenry Elementary Middle School.  The third project resulted in the creation of a meditation garden in the Franklin Square neighborhood.  Allies engaged neighborhood  partners like St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Salvation Army’s Boys and Girls Club and school and community leaders.

Increase graduation rates

In June 2016, Renaissance Academy High School graduated 65 students, an 82% graduation rate which is higher than the Baltimore City graduation rate.

Benjamin Franklin High School, one of the schools served by the School of Social Work’s  Social Work Community and Outreach Service (SWCOS) program on Family Stability Initiative won the Heart of the School Award from the Fund for Educational Excellence:

A mother of a student at Benjamin Franklin High School came to the Family Stability Program Brooklyn-Curtis Bay because of an electrical power outage (BG&E turnoff.)  This woman is well-known to the community because she has had three children graduate from this school.  Working to support three children and two grandchildren as a Certified Nursing Assistant with a high school diploma, this mother’s goals in the program were to improve her relationship with her high school-aged daughter, help her last child graduate high school, and become more financially stable.  This family experienced many hardships while in the program (such as a fire and medical illness); however, their collective devotion to services like case management, mental health resources, and workshops never wavered.  With support and a positive attitude, this mother completed the program having caught up on her bills, a daughter who graduated from high school, and an improved relationship with her daughter.  Though the Family Stability Program certainly helped get this loving mother out of a bind, she did the necessary hard work to support her family even though her year was challenging.