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Baltimore Homecoming kicks off, bringing 'alumni' like Julie Bowen and Josh Charles back to town

Baltimore Homecoming, the inaugural three-day celebration that aims to reconnect accomplished Baltimore natives from around the country, kicked off this week, bringing in guests like Baltimore Ceasefire co-founder Erricka Bridgeford and “The Good Wife” actor Josh Charles to a Thursday-morning event.

“Modern Family” actress Julie Bowen, Michelle Obama portrait artist Amy Sherald and Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank were expected to attend later in the day.

"The idea of meeting people ... some who are still very much involved in Baltimore, some who were just born here, everyone feeling this deep connection to the city — is very inspiring," said Charles, who hosted a conversation with Sarah Hemminger, the CEO and co-founder of Thread, a nonprofit that supports underperforming high school students.

Hemminger announced that Boston-based One8 Foundation made a $6 million donation to help Thread reach 5 to 7 percent of incoming freshman in Baltimore high schools and 60 percent of the highest-need schools in the city by the 2021 fiscal year, according to a release.

Bridgeford had an announcement of her own, encouraging attendees to think of the areas of need in the community and to build up the local “heroes” who were not recognized at the event that might not have the all of the resources or access to make a difference.

“I want you to use your platform, your access, your privilege to fill that gap,” said Bridgeford.

“We are not going to give up on us,” she said, adding that Baltimore breeds people who are determined and self-loving. “You better remember Baltimore put that in you. You better remember Baltimore made that, and you better come back and give that back to Baltimore."

Trif Alatzas, publisher and editor-in-chief for The Baltimore Sun, moderated the panel “Community Approaches to Violence Reduction” that included Bridgeford.

The homecoming conference — founded by Continental Realty Corp. CEO J.M. Schapiro and Nate Loewentheil, a former Democratic candidate for Maryland delegate and a former senior policy advisor to former president Barack Obama — will continue through Friday with group tours around the city, a host of panels with guests like renowned Baltimore artists Amy Sherald, Paul Rucker and Joyce J. Scott, and a gala reception.

Other notables expected to attend include “Step” director Amanda Lipitz, author and entrepreneur Wes Moore and model Liris Crosse.

bbritto@baltsun.com

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