The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) was among educational, faith-based, government, and private-sector partners whose representatives gathered May 7 to show support for a City of Baltimore effort to rebuild the community. Called #OneBaltimore, the comprehensive, public-private initiative is intended to support the ongoing efforts to facilitate opportunities for the city’s children, families, and neighborhoods.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stood with congressmen, City Council members, and other leaders to announce the effort and thank its many partners for their support going forward after the unrest and destruction related to the death of Freddie Gray.
“This is a once-in-a-generation effort to tackle inequality. We are resilient. We will rebuild,” she said.
The mayor was joined at the podium by Bishop Walter Scott Thomas of New Psalmist Baptist Church and congressmen Elijah Cummings and John P. Sarbanes.
#OneBaltimore seeks to promote collaboration for transformative change in the city, through inclusion, accountability, transparency, and sustainability. #OneBaltimore will focus on such areas as education, employment, minority, and women-owned business opportunities, creating economic inclusion, affordable housing, health disparities, and community engagement, the mayor’s office said.
“In addition to #OneBaltimore focusing on the immediate, short-term needs of those communities affected by our recent unrest and violence, this is an opportunity for us to focus more intensely on systemic problems that have faced our city for decades, if not generations,” said Rawlings-Blake.
“While our city’s challenges are not unique from many other urban areas, I believe that our unique strengths create an atmosphere for us to make real progress moving forward. From our educational and health care anchor institutions to our business partners to our community, faith, and philanthropic leaders, I pledge that our #OneBaltimore initiative will engage anyone and everyone who wants to help.”
To show support, officials and civic and community leaders alike eagerly took up felt-tipped pens to sign a #OneBaltimore poster, starting with Rawlings-Blake and Cummings, both graduates of the Carey School of Law at UMB.
The mayor stood near the boarded-up windows of the CVS Pharmacy that was looted and burned but that will be rebuilt. The gathering took place on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue that has come to symbolize the recent unrest and violence in Baltimore.
It is only a few short blocks from where UMB has arranged to temporarily station one of the Governor’s Wellmobiles, under the direction of the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Residents of the poverty-stricken Penn-North area are encouraged to get referrals to needed health services by entering the van, parked at Fulton Street and North Avenue.
That outreach and other help for city residents is being directed by Ashley Valis, MSW, UMB’s executive director of community initiatives and engagement. At the announcement, Valis represented President Jay A. Perman, MD, and, starting on May 6, was helping to staff the Wellmobile. She was joined in both endeavors by Jane Lipscomb, PhD, MS, director of UMB’s Center for Community-Based Engagement and Learning. The center is coordinating UMB Responds, a universitywide effort to collect goods, recruit volunteers, and, in many ways, help the city.
Over the coming weeks, a framework for #OneBaltimore will be announced, and a system of broad community engagement will be developed. For more information on #OneBaltimore, go to ServingOneBaltimore.org