Creating a mosaic for the American Visionary Arts Museum; providing a pathway for low-income Baltimore City residents to enter the trades workforce; and connecting under-employed Baltimore City residents to jobs at the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport through new transportation initiatives are just some of the projects that will receive funding through the Opportunity Collaborative’s second round of Demonstration Grants in 2014.
Eight organizations from around the Baltimore region will receive a total of $379,846 in Demonstration Grant funding from the Opportunity Collaborative. The Opportunity Collaborative, which is staffed and coordinated through the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, notified the recipients in January. Projects will be completed by September.
“The Demonstration Grants are a way for our grantees to test new ideas on a small scale. Our hope is that the successful projects will be replicated throughout the region by our government and nonprofit partners,” said Opportunity Collaborative Co-chair Scot T. Spencer, of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The projects all focus on partnerships throughout the Baltimore region, and in several cases will tie together transportation planning, workforce development and housing.
“The funding that we receive from the Opportunity Collaborative’s Demonstration Grants program will help us better provide efficient and reliable public transportation for Baltimore City residents who work in the hotel district surrounding the airport to provide services and lodging. This grant is a win for our businesses, their employees, and the many tourists and business travelers who come through the airport each year,” said Linda Greene, executive director of the BWI Business Partnership, one of the grant recipients.
Grant recipients include the American Visionary Arts Museum, Belair–Edison Neighborhood, Inc., Blue Water Baltimore, BWI Business Partnership, Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, Job Opportunities Task Force, Light House and Urban Alliance. Details of the projects include:
- The American Visionary Arts Museum will receive a grant of $25,000 for a public art project for residents of the William Donald Schaefer House, a state-run substance abuse center for boys ages 14-18. The residents will create a mosaic for the museum.
- The Belair-Edison Neighborhood, Inc. will receive $54,223 to create and distribute community branding for four miles of road along the Belair-Edison corridor. The project will bring together local government, community associations, nonprofit organizations, business owners and residents in Baltimore City and Baltimore County to create a unified brand for the distressed community.
- Blue Water Baltimore will receive $43,623, to partner with the Baltimore City Environmental Protection and Sustainability Office and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund an education and ambassador program aimed to help reduce pollution, engage residents and spread awareness. The project will include planting trees, creating storm drain art, conducting residential water audits, participating in an annual spring clean-up, and ambassadorship and communication strategy initiatives.
- The BWI Business Partnership will receive a $60,000 grant to go toward the implementation of new transportation choices to connect under-employed Baltimore City residents to jobs at the Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport hotel district. The project goal is to create outreach and implementation activities for workforce transit programs such as vanpools and shuttle service expansions for the district.
- The Central Maryland Transportation Alliance will receive $50,000 to work with the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor and employers in the industries of manufacturing, and warehousing and logistics to identify how transportation could attract and retain employees to those two fields. Manufacturing, and warehousing and logistics are two industries of workforce growth identified in the Opportunity Collaborative’s Regional Talent Development Pipeline Study, which was released to the public in October 2013.
- The Job Opportunities Task Force will receive a $65,000 grant toward its JumpStart construction training program, which is a 14-week, 87-hour pre-apprenticeship program that prepares low-income Baltimore City residents to enter the trades. The project, which will partner with Associated Builders & Contractors and the Center for Urban Families, will focus on providing the program for residents in the Westside neighborhood, and will include, in addition to gaining trades skills, job coaching and driver’s education when applicable. JumpStart graduates are eligible for sponsorship to Vehicles for Change and a set of starter tools so that they can begin work at a construction site immediately.
- Light House will receive $45,000 to help expand the Building Employment Success Training program, B.E.S.T. Catering. The program connects Light House culinary training graduates with employment opportunities. Expansion of the program will help graduates become more marketable in the hospitality industry, gain solid employment and find stable housing.
- The Urban Alliance will receive $37,000 toward the creation and implementation of a college internship program for graduates of its high school program. Hundreds of those graduates are eligible to participate, as the Urban Alliance started working with Baltimore City’s young people in 2008.
“This grant allows the Job Opportunities Task Force to build upon a successful training model and connect our students to careers – not just jobs. In just 90 days, JumpStart participants get the training and supportive services they need to successfully enter the construction trades. Without funding from the Opportunity Collaborative, this project would not be possible,” said Jason Perkins Cohen, executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force.
Last fall, the Opportunity Collaborative received 23 proposals requesting more than $1.2 million in the second round of Demonstration Grant funding for projects. The first round of Demonstration Grant funding totaled $375,000.
The Opportunity Collaborative is a consortium of local governments, state agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore region creating the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development. The plan will bring together housing, transportation and workforce development efforts throughout the region. BMC staffs and coordinates the Opportunity Collaborative through a $3.5 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.