Community Engagement Center

Mission and History


In Fall 2015, under the leadership of UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, the University opened its Community Engagement Center (CEC) in West Baltimore’s Poppleton neighborhood.

The temporary facility has enlivened UMB’s community engagement mission and deepened our relationship with our closest neighbors. The center engages hundreds of students, faculty, and staff from all seven UMB schools to provide vital health, wellness, employment, education, and social services to nearby residents, and effectively partners with neighbors to create and sustain projects that strengthen community development and invite external investment.

The CEC primarily serves 6,500 households living in the communities that make up the Southwest Partnership coalition: Franklin Square, Poppleton, Hollins Market, Barre Circle, Pigtown, Mount Clare, and Union Square. Visitors also come from many other West Baltimore neighborhoods.

Support a Dynamic and Resilient Community

As UMB’s ambitious plans to open a vibrant, new Community Engagement Center (CEC) in 2020 become a reality, we invite you to share in our vision for what the UMB CEC can do for the West Baltimore community. 

Learn how you can help the UMB Community Engagement Center (CEC) touch lives and change the trajectory of children and families growing up in one of Baltimore’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.

Ashley ValisFROM OUR CEC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

"The UMB Community Engagement Center [CEC] was piloted in October of 2015 in a small retail space along West Baltimore Street within the University of Maryland BioPark. Traditionally, our community engagement efforts were very project-based within various Baltimore City schools or neighborhoods, and had a specific goal and timeline in which the University would be present. As the role of urban anchor institutions has shifted into a more place-based approach grounded in racial and social equity for communities, we felt the need to open a space ‘on the ground’ that would remain as a constant in the community, if successful, the UMB CEC was opened to give our closest neighbors a ‘front door’ to the University and its resources and provide our community a place to call their own. Our neighbors have provided a lot of feedback over the years on things they would like to see UMB provide to the community, and have helped shape the programs and services that we provide at the CEC today. What started as a pilot has turned into a thriving neighborhood hub for community activities such as after-school programming, workforce services, and health and wellness initiatives. Our community advisory board guides the staff with honest feedback and act as neighborhood ambassadors for the CEC and its programs. We strive to have the CEC continue to be a mutually beneficial partner with the University and the community, and look forward to growing this space in our new, larger home.”

ASHLEY VALIS, MSW’06

Executive director, strategic initiatives and community engagement