What is The Center for Restorative Change?

The Center will bring together the expertise and resources of two of UMBSSW’s longest-standing community outreach initiatives, Promise Heights and the Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS) under one unique entity, which will help further the School’s mission to advance social justice and promote the well-being of individuals and communities.

History + key milestones leading up to this moment:

In 1992, UMSSW launched SWCOS to create and implement innovative models of social work education and service that help strengthen individuals, families, organizations, and communities in Baltimore.  SWCOS is home to several program innovations including Family Connections Baltimore, a neglect prevention program promoting safety and well-being for families, as well as the Positive School Center which serves as a catalyst for school climate change, in partnership with school leaders, staff, and districts to build positive, restorative, and supportive schools. 

UMSSW then established the Promise Heights initiative in 2009 to improve educational outcomes for youth and ensure families in the West Baltimore communities of Upton/Druid Heights are healthy and successful. In 2018, Promise Heights was awarded a five-year implementation award to serve the Upton/Druid Heights community by the U.S. Department of Education Promise Neighborhood program and to create a pipeline of integrated and comprehensive services which support children to succeed, thrive, be inspired to stay in school, and aspire to college and career.  

Why did we create The Center?

Following the retirement of Promise Heights Executive Director and Founder, Bronwyn Mayden, in 2021, UMSSW merged Promise Heights into SWCOS’ programs and services in order to create a more aligned strategy for community partnership and improve the collaborative relationship with Baltimore City Public Schools.  

The Center of Restorative Change, led by Executive Director Dr. Wendy Shaia, will now serve as the umbrella organization supporting the following programs and services: Promise Heights, SWCOS, B’more for Healthy Babies Upton/Druid Heights, Positive Schools Center, Family Connections Baltimore, and the new Family Support Center.  

What are The Center’s focus and purpose?

At the core of The Center is the value of antiracist and anti-oppressive practices, fostered by an interdisciplinary group (social work, education, and public health) of staff and faculty.  The Center also values restorative approaches as a ‘way of being’ where the focus is on building and sustaining meaningful, trusting, and accountable relationships, and repairing relationships when harm arises.  Restorative change happens when there is a culture of working alongside people and a mindset for strengthening relationships.

Contact Information:

Wendy Shaia, EdD, MSW, Executive Director, 410-706-5130, wshaia@ssw.umaryland.edu

Becky Davis, MSW, Assistant Director, 410-706- 1884, rdavis@ssw.umaryland.edu

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