In November, Open Society Institute officially announced its 20th cohort of Community Fellows. These ten remarkable Baltimore residents work in neighborhoods throughout the city on a wide range of issues, including food equity, disability rights, and affordable housing.
The Fellows each receive $60,000 over 18 months to support local projects they designed to address problems in Baltimore’s underserved communities.
In addition, as the Community Fellowships program reaches its 20th year, with 190 Fellows, OSI encourages collaboration among members of the Community Fellows Network with “Alumni Action Grants”– funds reserved for groups of Fellows who propose meaningful collaborations.
Individually, OSI’s Fellows have had a remarkable impact, creating transformative change throughout Baltimore and founding local institutions such as Restorative Response Baltimore (formerly known as Community Conferencing), Wide Angle Youth Media, and the Book Thing of Baltimore. Fellows have often collaborated to great effect, but in recent years OSI has realized that by developing and supporting the Community Fellows Network it could magnify the Fellows’ efforts to improve social and economic conditions and deepen their understanding – as well as OSI’s – of how to achieve sustainable change.
Jackie Bello is expanding Dent Education by working in partnership with several schools (Green Street Academy, Maree G. Farring Elementary School, and Benjamin Franklin High School) to develop Bet on Baltimore. The organization teaches design thinking, community engagement and entrepreneurship to instill students with the skills and mindset essential to becoming changemakers.
Matthew Burke is establishing Baltimore Free Farm Food Rescue, a network of food give-away sites at local businesses, churches and community centers for the purpose of providing nutritious food, reducing waste and educating the public on issues related to food justice.
Ausar Daniels works in partnership with Tubman House to develop the Greater Mondawmin Empowerment Project which provides education and vocational training for the Sandtown-Winchester community in agriculture, culinary arts, and wellness.
Ryan Flanigan works in collaboration with the Baltimore Housing Roundtable and the Central Baltimore Partnership to establish the Remington Community Land Trust which aims to preserve and expand affordable housing options as a means to maintain Remington as a multi-class community.
Eric Jackson has created Building Black Land and Food Sovereignty Practice as a part ofBlack Yield Institute. His project will organize residents to create community-oriented solutions to the food equity issue in the Cherry Hill and Poppleton communities.
Munib Lohrasbi works in partnership with Disability Rights Maryland to establish the State Correctional Facilities Oversight Committee Project. The organization works to increase transparency and enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the state’s correctional facilities.
Alex Long has established the McElderry Youth Redemption Boxing Program as a vehicle touse physical rigor and a disciplined structure to engage vulnerable youth, ages ten to fourteen, in alternatives to negative activities.
In partnership with Jubilee Arts, Kim Loper, is building Youth in Business Design Collective, an initiative that cultivates the entrepreneurial leadership skills of high school aged youth by providing hands-on experience operating an art and design-based business.
Shantell Roberts is expanding Touching Young Lives, Inc. to focus on the health and well-being of infants and children by using the “Portable Alternative Crib” as a new and innovative safe sleep alternative for infants.
Amy is working in collaboration with the Goodnow Community Center and other organizations to establish the Healing and Community Integration Through Music: Refugees and Other Other Vulnerable Immigrants Program. The program provides music therapy services and teaches methods for healing and self-care to participants.