Schools, Baltimore neighborhood groups get grant money

Aim is to encourage families to move back to city

February 26, 2010|By John-John Williams IV | john-john.williams@baltsun.com

Students and staff at Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary are abuzz over the arrival of WeatherBug Science Curriculum, a program that will allow the city school to feed data to meteorologists and give students a better appreciation of science, math and literacy.

"Our students are very excited," said Saundra Adams, the school's principal. "They have the opportunity to experience in-depth learning. They are going to use this as a way to springboard off their own learning."

The curriculum is supported by a $50,000 grant the school received through a partnership that urges schools and neighborhood groups to work together to improve neighborhoods - therefore encouraging families to move back to the city.

Today, eight schools - public, parochial and charter - and five neighborhood associations will receive a share of $435,000 in Neighborhood-School Partnership Grants. Schools given the funding have above-average assessment test scores, high parental satisfaction surveys and strong visions for the future.

The grants are funded by the Baltimore-based Goldseker Foundation, which has given more than $70 million to nonprofit organizations in the metropolitan area since it was created in 1973.

The main goals of the neighborhood grants are to create desirable neighborhoods through high-quality schools, and to increase enrollment and academic quality in the schools.

"It was a good tie-in with the neighborhood and the community," said Adams, who has led the school for the past six years. "It is like breathing a new breath on our new community. When we have good housing, we have good schools."

School and city officials hope that the program will attract families to the schools and to the city.

"The cornerstone of a strong neighborhood is great schools. When we excel in educating our young people, our communities prosper," Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake said in a prepared statement.

The funding allows some of the city's stronger schools to get even stronger, according to city schools CEO Andrés Alonso.

"More importantly, it emphasizes a key tenet of the transformation under way in City Schools - the critical role of families and communities in the success of our schools," Alonso said in an e-mail. "These grants allow participating schools to invest in new initiatives to continue and build on existing success."

Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary staff predicts that the new curriculum purchased with the grant money will result in increased test scores.

"It will impact all areas of our curriculum," said Anthony Musa, a physical education teacher at the school who supervised the grant funding process. "We selected the program because of its unique functions and its ability to be used across the board in curriculum."

In addition to Calvin M. Rodwell, other schools receiving funds are Cross Country Elementary/Middle, Gwynns Falls Elementary, City Neighbors Charter, Hamilton Elementary/Middle, St. Francis of Assisi School, Barclay Elementary/Middle and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle. The community-based associations that will receive funds are Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., Garwyn Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center, Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, Neighborhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc. and Greater Homewood Community Corp.

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