BALTIMORE, MD (December 4, 2012) – The Baltimore Sustainable Communities Initiative has chosen “The Opportunity Collaborative” as its name.  The Collaborative, a 25-member consortium made up of public, educational and nonprofit organizations, was awarded a $3.5 million HUD Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council in February 2012.  The Baltimore Metropolitan Council is directing the Collaborative.  “Opportunity Collaborative is an ideal name for our consortium.  It conveys the real meaning of a strategy that will coordinate transportation, housing and workforce planning to benefit all of the residents of our region”, said Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen a co-chair of the Collaborative.

When we developed our application to HUD we clearly  understood that we wanted to build a coalition of organizations that would address the fact that many residents have not shared in the overall prosperity of our region said the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Scot Spencer also a co-chair for the Collaborative. “With our consortium, our new name and the first round of Demonstration Grants our effort is well underway.”

The Collaborative awarded the first round of Demonstration Project Grants at a meeting of the consortium on November 7, 2012.  The Demonstration Projects will be a series of innovative, small scale, replicable and finite programs designed to support the overall goals of the initiative. Eight grantees will receive a total of $375,000 in funds.  “These projects embody our shared goal of making the Baltimore region stronger for the future, with a more robust economy and an educated and nimble workforce,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, a member of the BMC Board of Directors. “I am excited to be part of this initiative, and applaud our partners for developing innovative ideas that will move us forward together.” 

The following grantees were chosen from a list of 31 applicants.

  • The City of Aberdeen and its partner Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor was awarded $10,500 to prepare zoning code amendments and develop review requirements for the Aberdeen Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Area.
  • Anne Arundel County Partnership for Children Youth and Families with its partner Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) was awarded $57,856 for a workforce training and employment program for public housing residents in the City of Annapolis working on weatherization projects.
  • The Baltimore City Department of Transportation with its partners AIC Development, The Midtown-Edmondson Improvement Association, People’s Community Health Centers and Bon Secours Health System was awarded $55,000 to conduct market analysis, an economic feasibility analysis and stakeholder engagement for the West Baltimore MARC station.
  • The Baltimore Community Foundation with its partners Blue Water Baltimore, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability was awarded $46,000 for community engagement around neighborhood runoff/litter issues impacting the Chesapeake Bay.  These projects include school activities, combined school and community activities, and a storm drain mural project.
  • Central Baltimore Partnership and its partner Johns Hopkins University was awarded $35,000 to implement specific portions of Homewood Community Partners Initiative.
  • The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance with its partner BWI Business Partnership was awarded $50,000 to analyze and prioritize public transportation service in targeted employment centers by coordinating input from workforce development experts, employers, and employees in the area.
  • Neighbor Ride and its partners Howard County Office of Transportation, Howard County Office of Workforce Development, Howard County Office of Planning and Zoning and  Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development will use $55,103 to evaluate best practices for providing efficient and effective sustainable transportation between affordable housing communities and employment opportunities.
  • The Maryland ABCD Network and its advisory committee representing the Maryland General Assembly, Arundel Community Development Services, Baltimore County, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Metropolitan Baltimore Quadel, and the Anne Arundel County  Housing Authority was awarded $63,750 to create and implement a public relations campaign designed to change negative perceptions of Marylanders holding Section 8 Vouchers or other housing subsidies.

The consortium will initiate another call for Demonstration Project Grants early next year.  By February of 2015, The Opportunity Collaborative will produce a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD) encompassing housing, transportation and workforce development, with a specific focus on reducing regional disparities. The goal is to develop a practical plan to link all the region’s citizens with a prosperous and sustainable future.

On its way to developing the RPSD the Opportunity Collaborative will develop regional strategies for housing and workforce development.  This will include engaging residents throughout the Baltimore region in activities to garner their input on the plan.  A new leadership development program will ensure that existing and emerging regional leaders from a broad set of backgrounds are fully engaged in the planning process. A workforce development fund will bolster efforts to establish and enhance best practices in workforce education and training throughout the region.

Members of Opportunity Collaborative include:

  • City of Annapolis,
  • Anne Arundel County
  • Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Associated Black Charities
  • Baltimore City
  • Baltimore County
  • Baltimore Integration Partnership
  • Baltimore Metropolitan Council
  • Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative
  • Baltimore Regional Transportation Board
  • Citizens Planning & Housing Association, Inc.
  • Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE)
  • Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
  • Enterprise Community Partners
  • Greater Baltimore Committee
  • Innovative Housing Institute
  • Harford County
  • Howard County
  • Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Maryland Department of Planning
  • Maryland Department of Transportation
  • Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission
  • Morgan State University
  • University of Maryland, National Center for Smart Growth
  • 1,000 Friends of Maryland.

The HUD Regional Planning Grant program, an effort of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities encourages grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to create more jobs and economic opportunities.

Groups interested in learning more, or joining the Opportunity Collaborative should send an email to Lyn Collins at lfcollins@baltometro.org.