South Baltimore Gateway Partnership awards $2 million for community projects, park improvements

The South Baltimore Gateway Partnership, a community development authority funded by casino revenue, announced Wednesday the award of $2 million in community grants and park improvement funding.

The group awarded $650,000 in community grants to 30 groups, including Living Classrooms Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and dozens of neighborhood organizations.

Another $1.4 million will go toward park improvements, though specific projects have not yet been determined.

The South Baltimore Gateway Partnership was formed last year to distribute a portion of the casino revenue flagged for community development in the neighborhoods around the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

“Neighborhoods across South and Southwest Baltimore are coming together around a shared vision,” said Brad Rogers, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We’re bringing to that vision the resources to make it happen.”

In fiscal 2018, the partnership will distribute about $6 million, Rogers said. The Local Development Council, also established to manage the city’s share, will distribute another $6 million.

The Partnership is charged with spending its share of the funding on projects and initiatives that benefit sixteen of the city’s southern and southwestern neighborhoods, as outlined in the area’s master plan. Applications and proposals for funding are vetted by the group’s board of directors.

About half of the money will support what Rogers called “big, transformational projects that will improve life in the district.” Those awards have not yet been announced.

Another 30 percent will support services in the community benefits district. The remaining 20 percent will go toward community grants to other organizations.

The awards announced Wednesday, which ranged from $400 to $100,000, are the partnership’s first.

The Youth Resiliency Institute received $100,000 to put on its Cherry Hill Arts and Music Festival. Living Classrooms Foundation received $90,000 to support its School Leadership in Urban Runoff Reduction Project.

Smaller awards of between $4,000 and $5,000 were awarded to projects including a community garden in Pigtown, a mobile pantry by Fish and Loaves, and a community clean up by the Lakeland Coalition.

The $1.4 million earmarked for parks and recreation will support maintenance, programming and other initiatives. Details about specific projects are still to come.

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