Last night at the final event in Open Society Institute – Baltimore’s 20th Anniversary Speaker Series, OSI Advisory Board members Veronica Cool and James DeGraffenreidt, Jr. – both of whom served on the Fellows Selection Committee – announced the 2018 cohort of OSI Community Fellows. The 10 new Fellows bring the OSI Community Fellowships Network to 200 Fellows, many of whom were in attendance to cheer on the new cohort.
The new Fellows’ projects, listed below, focus on a wide range of issues, including helping people with mental illness navigate the criminal justice system, creating a platform to help members of the trans community find safe emergency housing, and helping to build wealth and careers through carpentry training.
Congratulations to all the new Fellows!
Graham Coreil-Allen will launch the Druid Hill Park Complete Streets Project to advocate for transportation and green space equity through public art and creative planning. The project aims to increase access for pedestrians, bicyclists, and people with mobility devices to correct for the history of civic planning in the area that prioritized commuter traffic, despite the fact that about half of the local residents don’t own cars.
Ciera Daniel will establish Young Kings Leadership Academy, an after-school leadership development program targeting African-American middle-school boys at East Baltimore’s City Springs Elementary Middle School. The project hopes to counteract negative stereotypes about black men in popular culture and help students realize their potential to serve their school and their community.
Eric Fishel‘s Baltimore Foodparks will convert vacant lots into mixed use parks using native edible plants for the benefit of both the nearby human and bird communities. Through educational events, Eric will also introduce community members to related employment opportunities. The project will conserve the city’s greenspace, improve local ecosystems, and rehabilitate blighted areas.
Jennay Ghowrwal will improve the experience and representation of criminal defendants facing mental health challenges with her program, REMIND, which will train defense attorneys to understand and communicate better with such defendants. This population made up 40 percent of Maryland Public Defender’s clients in 2017. The goal is to improve outcomes, increase access to services, and reduce recidivism.
Shelley Halstead‘s organization, Black Women Build—Baltimore, will teach black women carpentry skills as they rehabilitate houses in the Upton community, helping them to build careers as well as wealth through home ownership.
Ava Pipitone will establish HostHome, a community-owned online housing platform designed to address housing instability in the transgender community. It will allow hosts to provide temporary housing for people in distress. In the future, the platform could become a national model.
Aarti Sidhu‘s Represent Youth: Baltimore School Justice Initiative will provide legal representation to Baltimore school children in suspension and expulsion proceedings. The initiative will empower youth and families by educating them about their rights in schools and advocating for policy reform to decrease and ultimately end exclusionary discipline.
Emily Thompson will establish PIVOT as a comprehensive re-entry program for women returning to Baltimore City from the criminal justice system. The initiative seeks to address the gap in gender-specific programming for ex-prisoners.
Fred Watkins will build Lil’ Laughs as a vehicle to increase the self-esteem of students using entertainment and programming that incorporates de-escalation and confidence building techniques.
Brittany Young‘s B-360 will utilize the dirt bike culture to equip disconnected youth and young adults with the skills to secure educational and career opportunities in STEM fields. The initiative also seeks to change the negative perception of dirt bike riders.