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March Newsletter

Supporting City Schools Staff and Students as Schools Re-Open

A year ago, City Schools officially announced school closures due to the pandemic. This month, Baltimore City Public Schools students and staff are returning to a unique learning environment– in some ways similar and in others vastly different than the one they left last March. In preparation for back-to-school, the tireless efforts of City Schools faculty and staff to ensure a smooth and safe transition to in-person learning have not gone unnoticed. While there’s been much uncertainty and apprehension regarding school re-opening, one thing is certain: the educators and school leaders in Baltimore are doing everything possible to ensure that all students can access an excellent and engaging education – whether in-person or online. We want to recognize these efforts and acknowledge all of those that have been instrumental in this phased re-opening plan, including: educators, custodians, school leaders, students and parents.

We know in the months ahead, there are many challenges that our school system, students, and their families will face. As we all do our best to return to normal, we must continue to support one another–from the incredible City Schools staff that remain selflessly committed to our students’ learning to the amazing parents and students who’ve been juggling work and family during an intensely stressful time. As we transition into in-person learning we can be assured that Baltimore is a community that stands together.

Supporting the District’s Literacy Efforts

Through our partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, the Fund works closely with the district to support their highest priority needs. Literacy is one of the pillars of the district’s Blueprint for Success, an evidence-based guide to help students reach their academic goals. The objective is to enable students to access a greater understanding of what they’re learning, explore subjects that interest them personally and set them up with the strong literacy foundation they need to be successful in college, career and life. Here are a couple of ways the Fund supports these efforts:

Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading
The Fund’s literacy-focused program, the Baltimore Campaign for Grade Level Reading (GLR), works in partnership with City Schools and other organizations that promote literacy by providing resources to families throughout the city and supporting the school district in engaging parents in their child’s reading development. Recently, GLR has been collaborating on literacy efforts with local partners through various workgroups and committees, including:

  • Partnering with City Schools to develop and distribute curriculum-aligned tip sheets and at-home activities for families of K-3 students. All Wit & Wisdom tip sheets are completed and are now available on the district’s website.
  • Active participation in the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success workgroups on Early Childhood and Literacy. On Wednesday, March 25th, the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success hosted the Baltimore’s Children Cabinet Youth Literacy Town Hall where youth cabinet members shared their perspective on what we as a community need to do to make sure all City Schools students build the literacy skills they need to succeed. Watch the full town hall here.
  • Co-chairing the Family and Community Engagement workgroup for the Baltimore Early Childhood Action Committee (ECAC) which focuses on strengthening the accessibility and utilization of early childhood resources.
  • Recent participation in Baltimore’s Promise Action Team as they develop a literacy demonstration project. The literacy demonstration project is designed to increase literacy rates of African American women ages 16-24 and takes a two-generational approach. The purpose is to ultimately increase the rates of literacy for young children and their parents.

Literacy Partners Roundtable
The Fund facilitates the district’s Literacy Partners Roundtable, which convenes a group of City Schools’ literacy partners bi-monthly for a conversation with district leaders on strategy and alignment. Topics for this month’s meeting included: identifying data points for targeted recovery and scheduling solutions to facilitate literacy acceleration.

Of Note:

Additional insights, updates and resources:

  • Congratulations to ChiPP, the early childhood development program managed by the Fund, on receiving a Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute Baltimore Health Equity Impact Grant! Check out the UHI Baltimore grantee showcase video, featuring the Fund’s Program Director Kwane Wyatt, in which awardees speak about their partnership and impact. Watch here.
  • ICYMI: As part of the “From the Heights” series of virtual talks hosted by Promise Heights, Dr. Lawrence T. Brown, Author of The Black Butterfly: The Harmful Politics of Race and Space in America and Director of the Black Butterfly Project joined in a virtual discussion with Dr. Nadine M. Finigan-Carr. Watch here.
  • Dr. Sonja Santelises joined Farajii Muhammad on WEAA’s For the Culture with Farajii to provide the latest information on the reopening process and adjustments being made as more students return to classrooms. Listen here.
  • Check out this incredible opportunity to join Central Maryland Transportation Alliance’s Transportation 101 workshop series, tackling regional transportation issues and the critical role transportation plays in our lives and our communities. Register here.
  • Mentor Recruitment: Join the New Future Ready Career Mentoring program at City Schools to help students with college and career planning. Apply here.

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