The Clean Water Schools and Communities Project demonstrates effective strategies to achieve litter free blocks surrounding schools; litter free storm drains near schools and on surrounding blocks; and an increased awareness of the connection between neighborhood trash disposal behavior and the cleanliness and health of local waterways. Funding from The Opportunity Collaborative will allow the project’s activities to reach students in five schools, student caregivers, and residents and businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) has served this region for 40 years as a charitable foundation. Since 1972, BCF has distributed more than $343 million in grants, launched program initiatives that have grown into significant civic influencers and, in recent years, engaged in public policy advocacy to effect systemic change to benefit this region. BCF is currently focusing resources on education and neighborhoods. BCF’s objectives for neighborhoods are that they become and remain safe, vibrant, clean and green.
The Clean Water Schools and Communities Project demonstrates effective strategies to achieve litter free blocks surrounding schools; litter free storm drains near schools and on surrounding blocks; and an increased awareness of the connection between neighborhood trash disposal behavior and the cleanliness and health of local waterways. The project’s activities reach students in five schools, student caregivers, and residents and businesses in the surrounding neighborhoods. Activities with students are coordinated with activities in surrounding neighborhoods.
The project is driven by a number of beliefs: (a) to reduce trash in local waterways and the Bay, we must reduce trash in upstream neighborhoods; (b) to change trash behavior in neighborhoods and schools, residents and students must hear from their peers; and (c) information and activities must be reinforced by visual cues and messages. These strategies are based on the power of peer-to-peer communication and influence. In schools BCF has tested this approach via the City Schools Sustainability Challenge, a small grant program for environmental projects at City public schools, which requires each school to create a “Green Team” of students, teachers, and administrators. Students develop and lead projects to make the school greener. Similarly, in the neighborhoods surrounding the target schools, BCF works with existing community groups and volunteers to develop and lead the projects that most interest and excite them.
The five schools, neighborhoods and associated watersheds are: Baltimore Talent Development High School in Harlem Park (Middle Branch Watershed/Watershed 263); Collington Square Elementary/Middle School in Broadway East (Inner Harbor Watershed/Watershed 246); Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School #237 in Highlandtown (Patapsco Watershed); John Eager Howard Elementary School in Reservoir Hill (Jones Falls Watershed); and Southwest Baltimore Public Charter School in Washington Village/Pigtown (Middle Branch).
Communities and Population(s) Served
These schools and neighborhoods are part of what is referred to (by the City’s Department of Public Works) as “the trash belt” i.e. parts of the city with severe trash problems. They are located in west, central, east, southwest and southeast Baltimore and are middle- to low-income communities. Approximately 85% of students in target schools receive free and reduced meals. Through this project, BCF serves over 2,100 students in target schools and many thousands more residents in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The Grantee and Project Partners
BCF is currently focusing resources on education and neighborhoods. BCF’s objectives for neighborhoods are that they become and remain safe, vibrant, clean and green. BCF has been intimately involved in the development and implementation of Baltimore City’s Sustainability Plan. In addition to BCF, which serves as the project’s fiscal agent and partnership coordinator, the relevant partner organizations include:
- Blue Water Baltimore (BWB), a nonprofit that uses community based restoration, education, and advocacy to achieve clean water in Baltimore’s waterways and the Chesapeake Bay;
- Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore (WPB), a coalition of businesses and institutions on Baltimore’s Harbor with a mission to be the driving force behind a cleaner, more attractive and more exciting waterfront; and
- Baltimore Office of Sustainability (BOS), a division of the City Planning Department, which develops and advocates for programs, policies, and actions by government, citizens, businesses, and institutions that improve the environmental, social, and economic viability of Baltimore. The BOS oversees the implementation of City’s Sustainability Plan.
The five neighborhoods and associated watersheds are: Middle Branch Watershed/Watershed 263, Inner Harbor Watershed/Watershed 246, Patapsco Watershed, Jones Falls Watershed and Middle Branch.