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Promise Heights gets $30 million to expand in West Baltimore

Promise Heights will expand its programs into five schools in West Baltimore, including Renaissance Academy High School.
Promise Heights will expand its programs into five schools in West Baltimore, including Renaissance Academy High School.(Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

A program run by the University of Maryland School of Social Work has received a $30 million grant from the federal government to help expand its programs into five schools in West Baltimore’s Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood.

“It really is going to give us the opportunity to, I think, turn these schools around and turn them into schools of excellence. And that’s what we want to do,” said Bronwyn Mayden, executive director of the Promise Heights program.

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The money will bring additional resources to the five public schools in Upton/Druid Heights, including tutoring, mentoring and college and career coaching, Mayden said.

Targeted schools in the neighborhood include: Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School; Furman L. Templeton Preparatory Academy; The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary; Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts; and Renaissance Academy High School.

The Baltimore Sun chronicled the work of Promise Heights as part of a three-part series in 2014 that looked at the often-unnoticed problems that accompany violence in Baltimore neighborhoods.

At the time, Promise Heights social workers were embedded in two elementary schools in the Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood. The social workers helped students learn to manage their emotions, taught parenting skills to their mothers and fathers. The organization also held dozens of sessions to teach adults how to deal with traumatized children.

The award from the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods Grants Program is the largest grant ever received by the organization. It’s also the only one of its kind in Maryland.

In a statement, state and city leaders including Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Catherine Pugh praised the program and the award, saying it would provide needed resources to the city’s disadvantaged communities.

“I believe every child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education no matter which neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” Hogan said.

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