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The Power of Listening: A Mondawmin Community Convo


To All Who Are Concerned,


Associated Black Charities (ABC) acknowledges structural racism's effect on the racial wealth gap, workplace discrimination, health inequity, disparities in housing policies and practices, educational inequality, discriminating and dehumanizing laws and policies, and more. ABC’s mission is to eliminate structural barriers and advance long-term solutions that create new opportunities for African Americans to thrive. Using an equity framework as a convener and thought leader to end race-based barriers that impede African Americans from having an opportunity to succeed is at the heart of all of ABC's initiatives.


We value our role as connectors in the Greater Baltimore community and feel that we are uniquely positioned to set the table for communication and positive exchange among all of the stakeholders that want Baltimore to be better.


We understand that empowerment must be included in racial equity work as it helps to uplift and support our communities of color, giving them a voice and a role in shaping the solutions to the challenges they face. We feel that the work is about creating conditions that allow individuals and communities to have control over their own lives and to shape the systems and institutions that impact them.

When individuals and communities are empowered, they are better able to identify and address their own needs, and to advocate for their rights and interests.

One day before the media reported a “social media post that called young people to gather for mayhem at Mondawmin Mall”, on Wednesday April 24, 2023, ABC joined the Mondawmin community in Baltimore to ensure the community’s voice is amplified, and that their experiences and perspectives are shared in a way that gives both attention and visibility to their issues and causes. It is our commitment to provide a platform for community voices to be heard and valued.


In our goal to help create and foster greater collaboration, cooperation, and effective solutions; we partnered with JP Morgan Chase and the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. Franklin Lance.


We convened residents, community organizations, faith leaders, government representatives, and other stakeholders at the church. Stakeholders were invited to discuss their work and bring forward community resources and the floor was opened for dialogue about what is going well in the community, and issues that need to be addressed with collaborative attention.

In addition to community residents, notable attendees included representatives from JP Morgan Chase, Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Tommy Phillips of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods, Senator Antonio Hayes, City Council President Nick Mosby, Eli Lopatin of the Greater Baltimore Coordinating Council, Tim Regan of Whiting Turner, and representatives from the PACE Program, Abell Foundation, Park Heights Renaissance, United Way, The William S. Baer School Partnership Board, Touchpoint Youth Leadership Program, the PATIENTS Program (UMD), Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore, the BioTechnical Institute of Maryland, Seawall Development, BGE, Glass Jacobson Wealth Advisors, Amazon, Murphy Enterprise LLC, Delivery 101, and more.


Meaningful quotes heard from residents that evening included:


“Make the resources available work for you.”

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

“People want to be a part of the solution but do not know how to capitalize on their talents.”


What ABC Heard:


Going Well (a number of community resources were identified)

· JP Morgan Chase’s Mondawmin Branch offers workshops and resources around budgeting, saving, investing, and wealth management/building.

· Delivery 101 is currently hiring drivers for their transportation company and are in partnership with Johns Hopkins to provide expungements for job candidates.

· Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore has a goal to decrease (or end) housing vacancies by 2023. They have acquired 30 vacant homes to remodel and provide adequate living spaces for residents. They would like to increase home ownership for residents and increase their financial capacity. Presently, they offer grants and loans for aspiring homeowners.

· The UMD PATIENTS Program connects patients to non-clinical research opportunities – surveys, town halls, Q&A, etc. and provides a safe space for people to voice opinion and share lived experiences and to be active in advocacy for health equity and access.

· The Maryland Book Bank and Book Thing has free books available for local schools.

· There are active mentoring programs for adults in the Mondawmin community.


Needs To Be Addressed

· Concerned about community safety being jeopardized by adding businesses that may not be beneficial to the neighborhood (discussion around addition of a methadone clinic in a Mondawmin residential neighborhood)

o Businesses may not invest in the community because of this clinic

· Changes in zoning laws are allowing government to make changes in neighborhoods without resident support or their concerns being considered

· There is a broad lack of communication resulting in little information or resources shared

o Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council is in the process of creating more robust communication channels. The organization does have a listserv where residents can subscribe, but needs support establishing a communication vehicle and a better social media presence to increase dissemination of information

· Lack of reliable transportation – community is in favor of red line project revitalization

· Druid Hill Park – Traffic and Construction

o There have been no updates on project and no end date in sight

o Traffic makes it hard to access I-83

o Streets are not pedestrian friendly

· Fear is amplified in the community because of ongoing Baltimore public safety concerns

· Lack of accountability for crime and the things that go wrong in the community need to be addressed

o Youth do not feel empowered and do not feel safe, and feel there is no hope or change in progress

· Community wants support in creating more connections with the youth to help change the narrative and make meaningful impact

o There is a lack of quality educators in local schools

· Residents feel that there is a lack of real investment into the Mondawmin community

· “Connection Genocide” – residents need support in facilitating real connections

o They only hear about the bad things in the community and no recognition of what is going well

o Need more connection between young people and older adults

o Community members need to know one another

· Residents are being impacted by things that are not caused by them

· Neighborhoods are not safe – violent crime and disorder is not being adequately addressed


Additional Resources Shared


City Council President Nick Mosby invited everyone to attend the Board of Estimates annual “Taxpayers’ Night” which allows citizens an opportunity to voice their thoughts and concerns about the City’s proposed Fiscal Year budget.

Senator Antonio Hayes shared that a letter was sent to every resident in the 14th district detailing all that they accomplished this legislative session. They meet with the constituents the Saturday before the session and meet during the session in Annapolis to let them know where they are on important issues. On May 16th at 5:30pm in the Pigtown Community they will meet to share updates.


Senator Hayes shared that every year they give out a $1.4 million in Senatorial and Delegate scholarships to individuals who live in specific districts and are looking to go to college. He encouraged that all who are eligible apply.

Next Steps


Associated Black Charities is calling to action all stakeholders with resources to shore up the things that are going well in the Mondawmin community, and to take immediate action toward supporting the resolution of the community issues identified.


We specifically identified the need for additional listening sessions in these communities that level the playing field for discourse and remove the perception of power and control being held by specific organizations.


If you are an agency, a business, a community member, or other entity that can assist, please contact TJ DeLoatch of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church at mstj1946@gmail.com, JP Morgan Chase (Mondawmin Representative) Joel Gamble at joel.gamble@chase.com, or Associated Black Charities at info@abc-md.org to be connected.



Together, we can change the future.


Sincerely,


Chrissy M. Thornton

President & CEO

Associated Black Charities



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