University System of Maryland announces development of Baltimore Power

 USM Developing Partnership to Enhance Opportunities for Baltimore City Students

University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Robert L. Caret announced August 4 the development of B-Power (Baltimore Power), a USM-led initiative to work with Baltimore City-serving organizations to increase education and career opportunities for the city’s students.

“Baltimore City has numerous educational challenges, challenges that must be addressed head on,” Caret said. “Given USM’s mission of providing educational access and thereby improving quality of life, we have the ability and responsibility, I believe, to focus our resources on our state’s urban center and its educational needs for the benefit of the city, its citizens, and especially its students.”

Fall college enrollment among graduates of Baltimore City Public Schools is among the lowest in the state of Maryland, having declined from 45.8 percent in 2013 to 41.5 percent in 2015. Using data for the 2014 high school class, the four-year graduation rate was 69.7 percent in Baltimore City, but 86.39 percent overall for the state for the 2014 class, according to data from the Baltimore City Public Schools District Profile and the Maryland Department of Education.

The nucleus of B-Power will be a partnership between two of USM’s urban campuses, Coppin State University (CSU) and the University of Baltimore (UB), located, respectively, in West Baltimore and the historic Mt. Vernon neighborhood. This partnership will forge a wider alliance with three organizations serving the city: the CollegeBound Foundation, Baltimore City Community College and Junior Achievement of Central Maryland.

Baltimore has a centuries-long history as a major East Coast city that has worked through the economic and social disruptions that so many American urban centers experience by making candid assessments of its problems and working creatively to resolve them. Baltimore has been going through an extended period of revitalization and B-Power will help ensure that the city’s youth are part of the bright future being built.

The organizations working together on B-Power speak to this tradition, as does the decision by the National Urban League to hold its annual four-day conference in Baltimore, August 3-6.

“The B-Power collaboration offers a unique opportunity to ensure that Baltimore City students reach their full educational potential and career development,” said Coppin State University President Maria Thompson. “Coppin State University looks forward to continuing its mission of offering access to opportunity through education. This partnership stands to benefit not only students but also the larger community-we all win when our students succeed.”

“The B-Power initiative recognizes the essential need for our institutions to collaborate effectively to serve the education needs of the greater Baltimore community,” said University of Baltimore President Kurt Schmoke.

The CollegeBound Foundation-established when UB President Schmoke was mayor of Baltimore-will bring more than a quarter-century of expertise in helping the city’s students realize their dreams of a college education. B-Power will work closely with CollegeBound to help ensure that more Baltimore City youth not only prepare successfully to qualify for admission to USM institutions, but also earn their college degrees.

“The CollegeBound Foundation provides college advising, need-based grants, and scholarships for public school students in Baltimore City to achieve their dreams of a college education,” said CollegeBound Executive Director Cassie Motz. “We look forward to partnering with the University System of Maryland in its B-Power initiative to help more City Schools’ graduates complete their college coursework and earn college degrees.”

Another important partner will be Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), which currently provides a significant number of transfer students to both UB and CSU. Under B-Power, USM and BCCC will work to expand that much needed pipeline and ensure that a higher percentage of the students complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with the B-Power partners,” said BCCC President/CEO Gordon F. May. “At BCCC, we are constantly exploring ways to reach out to Baltimore’s youth in desperate need of access to affordable training for 21st-century jobs, and this initiative is an innovative way to accomplish this goal while increasing our ongoing recruitment and workforce development efforts.”

Finally, the USM plans to partner with Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, an organization that offers experiential learning opportunities for K-12 students, creating a bridge between the education and business communities. Junior Achievement (JA) has embarked on an initiative to bring a 50,000 square-foot flagship facility to Baltimore City to create an unmatched, real-world, interactive learning experience where upper elementary, middle, and high school students can touch and feel what it’s like to explore careers and understand the expectations of the workplace. It is being designed as a place where students will practice and learn critical thinking skills, work in teams, and experience real-life successes and failures. Through B-Power, USM will partner with Junior Achievement to help develop postsecondary and career readiness pathways.

“We believe it’s time to redesign the student experience to prepare today’s youth for tomorrow’s economy,” said Jennifer Bodensiek, President & CEO of Junior Achievement (JA) of Central Maryland. “This is particularly important in Baltimore City, where young people deserve enhanced opportunities for learning and life-long success.

“The B-Power initiative offers a strategic, scalable solution to bring together a fractured community by leveraging the strengths of key partners. JA looks forward to serving as a bridge between the education, business, and non-profit communities, and working collaboratively on this important effort.”

Through B-Power, USM’s partnerships with CollegeBound, Baltimore City Community College, and Junior Achievement will be scalable and will help increase the number of students entering the educational pipeline and exiting that pipeline in a timely fashion. This will, in turn, strengthenthe state’s workforce development and economic competitiveness initiatives.

USM has long been involved in a significant number of ongoing efforts targeted at enhancing opportunities for the city’s youth. Examples include CSU’s Urban Education Corridor, which provides an educational continuum for students at Rosemont Elementary/Middle and Coppin Academy High School. The HEROES Academy at UB has introduced more than 1,000 Baltimore City high school students to college-level academic offerings and classroom culture.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB’s) Promise Heights initiative has raised more than $1.7 million in grants to target the high-needs communities of Upton/Druid Heights, with the goal of improving educational outcomes for youth, and helping to ensure that families are healthy and successful.

The partnership between Lakeland Elementary/Middle School; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); and the Northrop Grumman Foundation has a strong focus on STEM and arts education. And Way2GoMaryland-USM’s statewide information campaign designed to educate more middle students on how to prepare for college-has reached hundreds in the city.

Funding for B-Power will come from many sources. USM has committed funds to support the outreach and support efforts at both UB and Coppin. CollegeBound has also committed funding to the effort. In addition, B-Power will seek support from local foundations and programs like the Next Generation Scholars Program approved by the Maryland Legislature earlier this year.

Now, the B-Power partners are developing the specific plan for operating and delivering services under their new collaboration. They expect to officially launch the initiative in fall 2016.

Source: University System of Maryland

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