Liberty Alumni Lead Fundraising Effort

Shelley Goldseker
Myrna Cardin

Two years ago, Shelley Goldseker was reading a BCF Intersection newsletter like this one when she saw that her beloved alma mater, Liberty Elementary School (previously known simply as School 64) was one of BCF’s selected school communities. “When I read that, I called Myrna [Cardin] up because we always reminisce and said, ‘Let’s pick a day and visit the school.’ What started out as a trip down memory lane became so much more. We realized this was an opportunity to be part of the past, present, and future of the community.”

Dara Schnee, BCF’s vice president of philanthropy, arranged a tour of the school for the two, who thankfully found that although the name had changed since they attended, the spirit of community had not. “What we found inside the school were a plethora of assets,” says Shelley. “There was a powerhouse principal, amazing teachers, and support groups. There were a million volunteers and grandparents galore! We found a Judy Center and a recreation center. It was a testament to the community and its leadership.” When asked what else was needed, former principal Joe Manko didn’t hesitate: a new playground to replace the crumbling 25-year-old one. The two quickly got to work connecting with school staff and partners like the WBC Community Development Corporation. “We set out wanting to be part of and respect the community partnerships that were already in place,” says Myrna. “Now, we have this playground workgroup and it’s so wonderful how each person has a stake in this, but a different role. Everyone is playing their own instrument. We feel very privileged to be part of this orchestra.”

Creating a vibrant playspace fits with Shelley and Myrna’s memories of growing up in a very livable, walkable community. “I have fond memories of growing up in the community and especially of the playground and also the library, the synagogue, the shopkeepers who all knew your name…” says Shelley. “My husband [Sheldon Goldseker] and [Senator] Ben [Cardin] used to meet up with a group of guys to play ball. Some of that has changed naturally with time, but when you’re at the school, it still has that nurturing feeling and that same sense of community. It’s beautiful and palpable.”

The workgroup has met its initial goal, but continues fundraising for benches, ballfields and other amenities that could make the neighboring green space an asset for the entire community. “I don’t know if we can recapture what it was like growing up there,” says Myrna, “but I would like to think so. It was just that wonderful of a place and we need to pay it forward. We would love for these kids to have that same feeling of joy and pride.” ν

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Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

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.

School Leadership

We believe that attracting and retaining effective and diverse school leaders is a key lever for change in Baltimore's educational landscape, and so we fund school leadership development efforts at the district and individual school level. We are interested in funding proposals that focus on principal coaching, mentoring, peer networking, wellness/self-care, as well as pipelines that identify and develop new leaders. We will also continue to support efforts that build a culture of appreciation and encouragement for school leaders.

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Melissa McC. Warlow
Director, Baker Fund Grants Program
410-332-4172 x150

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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

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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John A. Gilpin


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Cathy Brill

Executive Director
Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation