This week, the Daily Record published a commentary written by 2014 OSI Community Fellow, Renita Seabrook, the program director for Nonprofit Management and Community Leadership at the University of Baltimore’s College of Public Affairs and an associate professor at the University of Baltimore School of Criminal Justice.
Seabrook argues that the residents of Baltimore can and should reclaim their place as “civic owners” of their communities:
In my program, called Nonprofit Management and Community Leadership, we inspire each other to become “community scholars,” by engaging in service-learning projects that fuse together classroom lessons with the work of real community organizations. Our scholars fan out to locations where the need is genuine and where they can contribute as they learn.
I can’t speak for everyone who’s ever taken up a civic cause, but I believe that nonprofits are our best answer to urban problems. Why? Because by their very nature, they are in it for the long haul. But that’s only true if the nonprofit is well-managed – and again, that’s where a college-level education is essential. Our students are embracing all of the tenets of effective city governance through the nonprofit perspective, from social work and public health, to entrepreneurship and legal support.
The goal is simple: Keep the front door to those nonprofits open, keep the citizens involved and empowered. Work the problem. Achieve the goal. Move on to the next thing.
During her OSI Fellowship, Seabrook established Helping Others 2 Win, an extension of Alternative Directions Inc., a Baltimore nonprofit that helps men and women in prison and those leaving prison become independent, responsible citizens.