Baltimore wins $5 million children's health grant Funds will help implement education, support plans

November 17, 1997|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,SUN STAFF

After a 20-month Safe and Sound campaign, Baltimore has won a $5 million grant to strengthen programs to make the city healthier for its children and adolescents.

A key Safe and Sound planning committee was informed Friday that Baltimore and four other cities won the grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, N.J. A formal announcement is expected soon.

The grant will be used to implement a plan developed in recent months, said Hathaway C. Ferebee, project director of Safe and Sound.

"We don't want to reinvent the wheel by starting programs already in place. Safe and Sound will support and build on existing programs and community efforts to achieve significant results for children in four areas," Ferebee said.

The areas are:

Better recreational activities for children after school and during summer vacation.

Reading by age 8, ensuring that more children read by third grade.

Anti-crime efforts to reduce gun violence that hurts and kills children.

Support systems for families with young children.

The four were considered the most crucial by more than 7,000 city residents voting on 12 initiatives at an all-day Baltimore's Promise Summit Sept. 13 at the Baltimore Arena.

Katrina M. Scott, a junior at City College high school and a co-chairman of Safe and Sound, announced that the group had won the grant at the start of the committee meeting.

More than 900 people, mostly volunteers, held scores of community meetings and street corner "speak-outs" for months to hear peoples' opinions. The events were often organized by Selwyn I. Ray, the committee's director of community organizing. Baltimore Community Foundation and Associated Black Charities co-sponsored the effort.

Baltimore leaders were encouraged after officials of the Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest medical philanthropy, met with them in late September after the summit.

"The Johnson people said the Baltimore effort was extraordinary," Ferebee said.

"They were impressed by the community coming together to improve things for children and the diversity of the leadership-businesses, foundations, young people, community groups and Mayor [Kurt L.] Schmoke and city government.

"They were both impressed and concerned about the comprehensiveness of Safe and Sound," Ferebee added. "They wondered if it were too broad to be effective. We convinced them that the wide effort by so many people would produce results."

An unusual aspect of the Safe and Sound campaign, Ferebee said, was the work of a 300-member voluntary Youth Council led by a Youth Executive Committee of five high school students. Besides Scott, members are Justin Brown, Terrell Boston-Smith, Anisha Downs and Tami Princinsky.

Safe and Sound had already received about $800,000 in planning grants. Donors included the Johnson Foundation, Charles Crane Family Foundation Inc., the Baltimore Community Foundation, Associated Black Charities and the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The other winning cities with programs for children in Johnson's America's Promise program are Richmond, Va., Oakland, Calif., Detroit and Philadelphia. Chicago, Miami and Sacramento, Calif., lost.

Pub Date: 11/17/97

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