X. Engaging with Baltimore

Johns Hopkins is not only in Baltimore but truly and proudly of Baltimore. The fate of our institution is inextricably bound to that of our city, but, in truth, the relationship between Johns Hopkins and Baltimore has not been uncomplicated across our history.

Over the past several years, our commitments and partnerships with organizations across the city have grown deeper and more robust, reflecting the growing understanding of our role as an anchor institution and a recognition that contributing to a vibrant city is of core operational interest. We also appreciate the practical fact that our institutions (university and health system) have more than 36,000 employees in Baltimore, some 15,000 of whom are city residents. As Baltimore continues to suffer from racial injustice, intergenerational immobility, and disparities in areas such as educational opportunities and economic prospects, we understand that these circumstances also directly impact and involve many of those we employ and educate, and for whom we provide care. We are compelled to stand with willing partners to help our city realize its full potential.

Guiding our work and these partnerships is a commitment of inclusion, a conviction that our university and our city will both grow stronger if we stand together.

What we are doing

Economic Inclusion—HopkinsLocal and BLocal

As an anchor institution and Baltimore’s largest private-sector employer, we embrace our role as an economic engine to create lasting opportunities locally. In fall 2015, driven by the fundamental belief that our business decisions can help broaden local prosperity, and encouraged by community partners, we launched a major expansion of our economic inclusion program across the university and health system. HopkinsLocal includes a set of specific, measurable commitments to increase our local hiring, purchasing, and contracting, expand- ing the opportunities available to Baltimore residents and its minority- and women-owned businesses.

These commitments represented not a project-by-project shift in approach but a deep-seated change across the institution. Over the past year, we have hired five new staff members within Human Resources, Procurement, and Design and Construction, a step that expands our internal capacity to meet our ambitious goals for HopkinsLocal. We plan to share our progress to date, including lessons learned and next steps, in our first annual report for HopkinsLocal by the end of 2016.

The launch of HopkinsLocal sparked significant interest among other Baltimore businesses looking to amplify the impact of this work, including those led by members of our board of trustees. A consortium of partners came together over several months to explore how they, too, could leverage their collective influence to strengthen the economic fabric of our city. In spring 2016, we joined 24 other partners to launch BLocal, a sweeping initiative through which we agreed to an investment of at least an additional $69 million into Baltimore’s economy over three years. As one of its first joint actions, BLocal partners created the BUILD College, a 13-session program that provides construction and business training for small, local, minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged Baltimore-based businesses in the design and construction industries. Envisioned as an annual program, BLocal BUILD College will help participants develop key competencies and relationships necessary to drive the growth of their businesses. The first cohort graduated in fall 2016.

Place-based Commitments—EBDI and HCPI

Johns Hopkins has made profound commitments in the communities surrounding the university’s two largest Baltimore campuses, Homewood and East Baltimore. In both areas, the university’s work is aimed at supporting healthy, diverse, mixed-income communities.

The East Baltimore Development Initiative (EBDI) is a $1.8 billion neighborhood transformation that has engaged government, private-sector actors, and philanthropies across more than a decade. The effort, in a neighborhood that is now called Eager Park, involves new affordable and market-rate housing, lab space, retail space, a new park, a soaring new hotel, and a community school (as mentioned below). Johns Hopkins’ investments in EBDI have ranged from leadership to financial support to a catering guarantee that secured a local restaurateur’s decision to expand into the neighborhood. The most recent investment was in fall 2016 when the university and health system provided $1.6 million in grants to help 48 employees buy homes in Eager Park during a one-day event.

The Homewood Community Partners Initiative (HCPI) is a comprehensive revitalization strategy that encompasses 10 neighborhoods and two commercial districts around the Homewood campus. The HCPI plan, developed after months of consultations with community partners, identified five shared priorities that included areas such as public education and neighborhood safety. The university launched the partnership with a $10 million commitment in 2012, and has since supported activities ranging from housing creation and blight reduction to retail development and improvement of public schools. In summer 2016, Johns Hopkins community partners launched an equity development planning initiative to ensure that lower income residents are empowered by and benefit from HCPI’s revitalization efforts.

Public School Partnerships

Over the years, through volunteer service, individual commitments, and faculty projects, we have created linkages with Baltimore’s public schools, supporting K–12 education in our city. For almost 60 years, for example, the Johns Hopkins Tutorial Project has provided after-school tutoring to elementary school students on the Homewood campus. We have often been asked by community partners to focus more of our institutional energy in this domain. In recent years, our work has intensified with several local schools, deepening the partnerships. Examples of those partnerships include:

  • Henderson-Hopkins School. For more than five years, our School of Education has operated Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School in East Baltimore. With Hopkins’ support, this public pre-K through eighth grade school moved into a state-of-the-art new building in spring 2014—the first new school in East Baltimore in more than 20 years. The school benefits from relationships with various parts of our university, including the School of Nursing and the Peabody Conservatory. The Henderson-Hopkins campus also includes the 30,000-square-foot Weinberg Early Childhood Center, also run by the School of Education, adding another amenity to the East Baltimore community.
  • Barclay Elementary/Middle School. As part of HCPI, in fall 2015 the Whiting School of Engineering forged a 10-year partnership with nearby Barclay Elementary/ Middle School and Baltimore City Public Schools to establish a flagship academic program focused on electrical and mechanical engineering and computer science from pre-K through eighth grade. In addition to support with teacher training and curriculum development, the partnership includes new, cutting-edge computer and engineering laboratories that offer 3D printers, custom computers, and a maker space.
  • P-TECH at Dunbar High School. Also in East Baltimore, Johns Hopkins supported the launch of an innovative program called P-TECH at Dunbar High School in fall 2016. P-TECH is a public-private partnership that draws support from the business community, the city school system, and local community colleges. Over a six-year program, students earn a high school diploma, an associate’s degree from a local community college (at no cost to the student), and the skills and knowledge to step directly into a health care–related job or pursue a further degree.

Summer Jobs for City Youth

For more than two decades, the Johns Hopkins Summer Jobs Program has opened a vast array of job possibilities to city youth. As mentioned in the Staff section of this Roadmap, in 2015, the university and health system increased the number of summer internships by 50 percent—creating a total of 300 jobs to help guarantee that every student who registered for employment through the city’s YouthWorks program would have the chance to work. In 2016, our institutions matched that total, hosting 326 city youth in the Summer Jobs Program, in addition to other local students through other programs at the university and health system.

Faculty–led Initiatives

Johns Hopkins faculty and scholars are investing substantial time and talent in the success of the city and its residents. Recent examples include working with the Baltimore City Police Department to implement a data-driven violence prevention program, offering specialty health care to city residents, and collecting the voices and opinions of Baltimore City youth in the wake of Freddie Gray’s tragic death in 2015.

The Urban Health Institute (UHI) is a long-standing example of Johns Hopkins’ partnership with its community. With community partners, the UHI works to understand how the university’s research, teaching, and clinical expertise can be harnessed for the benefit of Baltimore and its residents while integrating community priorities into the university’s work. Among the UHI’s efforts, the annual Social Determinants of Health Symposium brings together local and national experts, community leaders, and Baltimore-based faculty and students to examine the root causes of health inequalities and identify evidence-based strategies to address them. In 2017, the UHI will launch the Bunting Neighborhood Leadership Program (BNLP) to train and support neighborhood-level and community-based organization leaders in Baltimore, strengthening a cadre of local leaders working to improve community health and well-being.

Another example of scholarly engagement is the 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC), a multidisciplinary research and practice center launched in 2015 to bring together civic leaders, researchers, scholars, and students with a vital interest in cities. The goal of 21CC is to address the pressing needs of cities that have faced sharp demographic and economic changes, helping these communities catalyze their potential through innovative solutions. Early efforts of 21CC have included “Redlining Baltimore,” a series of community conversations that reflected on the historical and contextual origins of the city’s civil unrest in spring 2015; and its inaugural symposium 21st Century Neighborhoods: Research. Leadership. Transformation., which brought together more than 250 city leaders and experts from across the country.

Community–based Learning

Through community-based learning opportunities, students can connect service with classroom experiences. At Carey Business School, for instance, students can participate in CityLab, two back-to-back practicum courses that allow students to immerse themselves in social entrepreneurship opportunities in partnership with area residents, stakeholders, and institutions. At the East Baltimore campus, SOURCE runs the SOURCE Service-Learning Faculty and Community Fellows Program, which trains an annual cohort of faculty and community leaders to integrate service-learning pedagogy into for-credit academic courses that meet community-identified needs. SOURCE also coordinates the SOURCE Service Scholars program, which trains student leaders to support community projects, recruit and train volunteers, and respond to community requests. Finally, SOURCE offers a series of online modules to prepare individuals to work with a community, including topics on history, competencies for community work, and working with diverse populations.

On the Homewood campus, the Center for Social Concern’s Community Impact Internships Program is a competitive, paid summer internship that pairs JHU undergraduates with community-based organizations in Baltimore. The result has been mutually beneficial relationships that support the organizations’ work while helping students see more of the city and what it has to offer. Since the inception of the program in 2011, 225 interns have worked more than 60,000 hours with over 100 local nonprofits, community groups, and government agencies.

Next steps

  • Reporting on HopkinsLocal. Before the end of 2016, we will begin to report annually on the progress of our economic inclusion efforts through HopkinsLocal, providing data and trends on the effectiveness and impact of the work. In an effort to continue engaging the Baltimore community and national experts in this initiative and our BLocal initiative, we also plan to host a forum in the 2016–17 academic year highlighting challenges, opportunities, and innovations for economic inclusion in urban areas.
  • Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School partnership. Modeled after the Barclay STEM partnership, the Johns Hopkins School of Education will partner with Margaret Brent to create a flagship program around the arts, including arts education, arts and cultural experiences, and arts integration, which includes teaching non-arts subjects with and through the arts. SOE will provide professional development and teacher coaching to help teachers design arts-integrated curricula, and the university will continue supporting efforts to expand the school’s growing list of arts partnerships and out-of-classroom programming.
  • P-TECH Dunbar expansion. Johns Hopkins helped open P-TECH Dunbar with 50 students in fall 2016, and will grow the program, grade by grade, to 200 students within four years. This growth will require an increased investment in mentorship and increased opportunities for work experiences at Johns Hopkins institutions to help prepare students for careers in high-demand fields.