This year, with restructured operations and a new approach to its mission work, Associated Black Charities (ABC) launched a new monthly listening session initiative called “Community Convos”. The events are aimed to engage community members and stakeholders throughout Baltimore to learn more about what’s going well and the immediate needs of their communities. The first event launched earlier in 2023 on February 15th in South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill in partnership with Youth Resiliency Institute. At this inaugural session, a concern was presented around the urgent under-resourcing of books in the Historic Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School library, and a community call to action was issued.
This call to action resulted in collaborative work and an unprecedented partnership between ABC, Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI), The Associated Jewish Federation of Baltimore, and the office of Councilwoman Phylicia Porter. Over the past few months, each entity worked collaboratively to underscore the critical importance of literacy and reading resources to enrich the lives of students and enhance the learning experience in Baltimore.
The Historic Cherry Hill Elementary Middle School has long been a pillar of education in Baltimore City, serving as a place where generations of students have been empowered through knowledge. However, like many schools across the nation, they have faced challenges in acquiring the resources needed to support their work to cultivate young minds.
As a result of generous community donations stewarded in partnership, on Thursday October 12, 2023, the school library was presented with over 400 books for children in grades K – 8. These additional resources mark a significant step toward bridging educational gaps and fostering a culture of reading within this Baltimore school. During the presentation, remarks were made by Chrissy M. Thornton, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities, Michelle Gordon, Chief of Staff of The Associated, Fanon Hill, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Youth Resiliency Institute, and Baltimore City Councilwoman Phylicia Porter.
Fanon Hill (YRI) emphasized, "ABC launched a series of in person community conversations throughout Baltimore City which have continued to have tremendous impact. The vision was grand, and they have followed up in a powerful way.”
Books play an irreplaceable role in the development of young readers, sparking their imagination, critical thinking, and empathy. The book donation, and continued support, will provide students at the school with a diverse collection of titles, spanning various genres and reading levels, with clear intention around having reading material that is both culturally relevant and provides representation for Black and Brown children. All stood in agreement that the students both should have and deserve access to age-appropriate and engaging reading material.
"This is not just a contribution to the library at the Historic Cherry Hill Elementary/Middle School, this is a contribution to legacy and to forward thinking to support young people here in Cherry Hill”, stated Councilwoman Phylicia Porter. “We’ve already started thinking about how we can use this as a pilot program all throughout District 10 and all throughout the City, connecting not only with local government but with state level partners as well to underscore the importance of Library Science within our school systems and our families.”
The school's administration and librarian expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the generous donation and community support. Associated Black Charities looks forward to sharing additional points of impact from ABC’s Community Convos and new collaborative approaches that provide solutions for Black communities.