Baltimore City Community Schools Initiative

Supporting Students, Families and Communities Together

Health Services

Furman L. Templeton Elementary

University of Maryland School of Social Work

The Challenge: Many school aged children suffer with mental health challenges which impair their ability to excel in school. The parents of these children, particularly those who have limited resources available to them, often feel hopeless and helpless. 

The Action:  After a long week, a mother of a fourth grader had a breakdown in the hallway because she had become overwhelmed by reports from teachers regarding her son’s behavior. After consoling her for about an hour, the school’s social worker came to the Community Schools site coordinator to vent her own frustration about not having enough resources available to these parents. In that moment it was decided to provide a support group for parents to come together to talk openly and to build a social network. The group is now held each Friday. The CRS coordinator and the school’s social worker co-facilitate the sessions and recruit speakers to offer useful information. 

At one session, a mother, who has found some recent success in parenting her child, recalled her very traumatic history and how her own behavior exacerbated her son’s mental health issues.  As she shared her very personal and emotional story, many of the other parents began to open up more about their own situations. This mother has served as an example for the other parents, demonstrating how progress can be made.  Her testimony was insightful, encouraging and inspiring. After this session, it was collectively agreed to start the group a half hour early because parents have so much to share and the group is growing in number.

Why This Matters: Through the invitation of speakers, resources for helping families succeed were brought directly to families in need.   The group has proven to be a much needed outlet for parents who face tremendous barriers but want more for their families.

Food Scarcity


Ben Franklin at Masonville Cove

University of Maryland School of Social Work

The Challenge: In September 2010, Dante de Tablan, the Community School Site Coordinator at Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove, faced a challenge that many neighborhoods face, families stranded in a food desert without access to nutritious food options. 

The Action: De Tablan, as Community School Site Coordinator was able to orchestrate an offer from a coalition led by Maryland Hunger Solutions to provide four tons of fruit and vegetables to the Brooklyn and Curtis Bay communities, but who needed help to reach families in need.

De Tablan and his community resource team stepped in and helped make the giveaway a success, recruiting more than 40 volunteers, including Spanish speakers, to both distribute food and help people apply for food stamps and other social services.  A range of government representatives and nonprofit organizations also took part, and the food event was an enormous success for a community that is considered a “food desert,” lacking high-quality grocery stores and access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

Having Spanish speakers on hand to help with the large number of immigrant families in need was also critical to the event’s success.

De Tablan’s team continues to distribute food to struggling families, sometimes taking food directly to a home to save the student from possible embarrassment about receiving help at school.  “We’re dealing with many families who are living on the edge,” he says. “It’s one crisis after another.”

Why This Matters: Site Coordinators recognizes that part of their role is to help families deal with crises – such as not having enough food – so that young people in those families can come to school to learn and parents can be productive members of the Baltimore work force.


Baltimore Families in Crisis

Pimlico Elementary/Middle School

Park Heights Renaissance

The Challenge: According to the Baltimore Sun, at least 1,500 students in Baltimore City Schools were homeless, living in shelters and cars or moving from house to house. At Pimlico the number of homeless families has continued to grow as companies down size the work force and foreclosure rates rise, symptoms of the current economic climate.

The Action: The Philippe family came to the school community resource room at the beginning of November to give details of how she could not purchase uniforms or regular clothing items for her daughters. Upon further conversation we found out that the entire family was being evicted and they had nowhere to go.  The Community School team quickly went into action.  Thanks to our partnership with Diakon Katherines Kloset, our school had a supply of all the personal items the Philippe family was in need of.  Body wash soap, detergent, fabric softener, deodorant, tooth paste, diapers, baby and wipes were amongst just a few of the items we were able to give freely to the Philippe family. The school’s clothing closest allowed the family the opportunity to receive free clothing items as well as school uniforms.  Additionally, our partnership with the Maryland Food Bank allowed us the opportunity to have a large supply of food readily available for the Philippe family to obtain emergency food items.  We worked diligently into the late hours of the evening securing a place for the Philippe family to stay. Our collaborative efforts paid off.   Through our list of Emergency Outreach services, our team was able to place the family in a long term housing center. 

Why This Matters: Homelessness is a crisis for families, causing serious ripple effects throughout the city.  Often times homeless students miss many days of schools or do not attend at all.  Helping to support and stabilize a family helps students and families succeed.



Health Services

Wolfe Street Academy

Y of Central Maryland

The Challenge:  During the 2009-2010 school year, WSA partnered with the University of Maryland Dental School to hold an oral health screening for all of our students, free of charge.  During that screening, the volunteers discovered that a first grader (who we’ll call Diego) had a tongue that was fused to the bottom of his mouth.  He spoke with a distinct lisp, but his disability had not been identified due to the fact that he was an English Language Learner, and already spoke English with an accent.  Diego’s mother was aware of the problem, but did not know that anything could be done about it. 

The Action:  The dental instructor from University of Maryland reported to the Community School Coordinator that this physical abnormality could be corrected via laser surgery.  The Community School Coordinator assisted mom through the process of preparatory appointments and getting health insurance approval.  In Fall 2010 laser surgery was performed.  Returning to the school, as the Community School Coordinator and mother were talking, Diego repeated the word “bolsa” (bag, in Spanish) over and over, as if he was practicing.  “Listen” said mom “he’s never been able to say that word before.”

Why This Matters:  A speech impediment can be detrimental to a child’s education and development.  Adding to this, learning English as a second language creates even more of an issue for the child.  This simple solution will have immeasurable impact on the life of this child.  The positive experience that the University of Maryland Dental School had in being able to provide their services to the citizens of Baltimore has cemented our relationship and partnership for future work together. 

Family Support and Preservation

Patterson Park Public Charter School


The Challenge:  The holidays are a wonderful time of year for families.  However, this time of year can also be a time of stress and shame for families when they cannot provide as they want for their families.  Young people want to contribute as well, and it is important for them to learn the value of giving as well as receiving.

The Action:  Our Community School Coordinator organized a Santa’s Secret Shop for families in need this holiday season. She organized a gift drive so that students in need could “shop” for a gift for their family members for the holidays.  Teachers gave referrals of which kids should participate, and the Community School Coordinator solicited donations from staff.  Staff was overwhelmingly generous, giving candles, lotions, books, movies and other gives, as well as wrapping paper and gift bags.  All in all, over 50 students got to choose gifts, wrap them and make cards for their loved ones. It was great to see their eyes light up when they found out what they were going to be able to do, and then the joy of giving in their faces as they lovingly wrapped their gifts!

Why This Matters:  This provides young people an opportunity to participate in the holiday spirit of giving.  It provides an opportunity to give families in need items they need or desire to warm their homes and holidays. It encourages positive relationships within families, where sometime tensions strain relations between parents and children.