Media sources were buzzing yesterday with the news that the Goldseker Foundation has granted $435,000 to a select group of Baltimore city schools. However, the grants came with some interesting stipulations: the money must be used in partnership with their surrounding neighborhoods. These joint grants serve to improve not only schools, but the community as a whole.
The Goldseker Foundation intends to build healthy neighborhoods from the inside out by improving educational standards and serving the children of the neighborhoods. Better educational standards raises property values, and the grants are expected to make the neighborhoods more desirable places to live through better upkeep of properties and stronger ties to the community.
School grants were offered between $20,000 and $50,000 for the improvement of academics in order to attract residents. Neighborhoods that received grants had already received “Healthy Neighborhoods” program grants from Goldseker, and could win $20,000 to $30,000 to support community organizing and incorporate the schools into Healthy Neighborhoods marketing.
As reported by the Daily Record, the eight Baltimore city schools which have received grants are:
* Cross Country Elementary/Middle School, which received $50,000 for technology integration (in partnership with Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc., who receive $25,000)
* Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary received $50,000 for the WeatherBug Science curriculum (its partner Garwin Oaks Northwest Housing Resource Center got $25,000)
* Gwynns Falls Elementary received $50,000 (in partnership with Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council, which received $25,000)
* The Neighborhoods of Greater Lauraville Inc. won a total of $40,000, for partnerships with City Neighbors Charter School, ($25,000), and Hamilton Elementary/Middle School and St. Francis of Assisi School (both $20,000).
* $35,000 each was granted to the Greater Homewood Community Corp. with Barclay Elementary/Middle School and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School.
My personal favorite is the Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary grant for its WeatherBug Science curriculum. Students claim that if they had used the curriculum in the first place, they would have been better prepared to inform their community about the impending blizzards. Cutest.
Although the grants will be immensely useful, only schools which bested the city average test scores were awarded the money, which seems only to further the gap between academically successful schools and many others that are struggling. Furthermore, the pattern of rewarding high test scores often leads to devaluation of a whole education in favor of drills and practice tests.
Timothy Armbruster, the president of Goldseker, claimed in a press release that strengthening connections between schools and neighborhoods “is one more step in making the city more reponsive and attractive to a wide range of families, including Baltimore’s growing middle class.”