Kirwan Commission advocacy: What you need to know

October 10, 2017

Formed in 2016, Maryland’s Commission on Innovation & Excellence in Education (commonly called the “Kirwan Commission” after its chair, Dr. William Kirwan) is charged with recommending policies that will improve the quality of education in Maryland’s public schools, and to ensure that schools are adequately funded.  

In December, the commission will submit its recommendations to the Maryland General Assembly. The recommendations, and subsequent responses by the state legislature and the governor, have major implications for student achievement and Maryland’s economic future. Among the critical issues to be addressed is the fact that the current state education funding formula does not fully account for economic factors like inflation and poverty, which results in severe consequences for Baltimore City and other jurisdictions. In addition, any policies that flow from those recommendations cannot be fully successful if they ignore the effects and legacy of structural racism.  

That is why BCF is launching a campaign to advocate for adequate education funding and innovation, using racial equity as a framework. The campaign will use grantmaking, strategic communications, research, coalition-building, and lobbying to recommend policy solutions that promote opportunity, equity, and justice. We will work in close partnership with policymakers and with other advocates, in Baltimore and throughout Maryland. 

In the coming weeks, we will announce the appointment of an advocacy coordinator who will be responsible for mobilizing diverse stakeholders – including BCF’s donors, trustees, volunteers, and partners – in support of adequate education funding for our public schools and equitable education opportunities for our students. 

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We have a nearly 30-year history of offering grants to resident-led groups and community projects in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. These grants give residents the resources they need to accomplish a small project, get more people involved, and encourage the next generation of neighborhood leaders. We also fund programs that support the development of leaders of all ages who are working to improve their neighborhoods and schools. Our support is intended to help identify, activate, inform and network leaders. And finally, we believe when schools and neighborhoods team up to improve their school and community, meaningful and lasting change can be made. We are interested in funding proposals in which the students and adults in schools collaborate intentionally with community residents, neighborhood associations, and other individuals, groups, and institutions in the area surrounding a school.

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Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

Place-based Grantmaking in Selected School Communities

We have allocated funds for two geographical areas that bookend a crucial corridor on the Westside of Baltimore City: Howard Park /Forest Park area (served by Calvin Rodwell Elementary Middle School and Liberty Elementary), and Reservoir Hill/Penn North area (served by Dorothy I Height Elementary). In these three schools and their surrounding neighborhoods, we will support projects and activities designed to make the communities safe, clean, green and vibrant; and improve the quality of the schools. Some projects may be neighborhood-focused, some school-focused and others collaborative projects between the schools and their respective communities.

Early Learning & Judy Centers

Early Learning & Judy Centers

High quality early childhood education has a lifelong effect on students. Through our Early Learning grant program, we are interested in system-wide early childhood education proposals that will help Baltimore City and County's youngest learners, and their families, get the start they need. Nonprofit organizations that offer programs and/or services to Judy Centers are encouraged to contact the centers directly to explore partnership opportunities.

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