Rooting Out Poverty Together
The Robin Hood Foundation has been developing and funding innovative programs that sustainably lift New Yorkers out of poverty for more than 30 years. Last year, they launched the Mobility Learning and Action Bets Initiative to test and adapt proven strategies from New York in nine cities and towns across the country. BCF is proud to host the Baltimore pilot in partnership with the Center for Urban Families (CFUF), a West Baltimore nonprofit that addresses chronic underemployment and family instability with person-centered case management, support networks, workforce development training, education, and civic engagement. Together, we are deeply engaged with residents of Penn North and surrounding neighborhoods who have named the initiative Baltimore Communities Assisting and Advancing Neighbors (BCAAN).
Both The Robin Hood Foundation and CFUF are intensely focused on personal accountability and empowerment as a path to sustainable self-sufficiency, so much of the work has involved listening to residents who know the challenges in their community, but often feel their suggested solutions go unheard. Says Larry Shaw, a community organizer who is leading some of the listening sessions, “This is the perfect opportunity for us to give life to solutions that [the community] themselves come up with… One thing that has stood out is understanding the lack of ownership the community feels. A lot of times, we think “we need to make these people better”, but we don’t take into account that the conditions are there because somebody is exploiting that group of people. For example, none of the stores in the Mondawmin Mall has businesses representing the Mondawmin community and there have been some great ideas about things that could be there that do.” The group has also identified that young men, in particular, feel hopeless due to lack of opportunity, seemingly insurmountable financial barriers and positive role models.
In the coming year, we look forward to developing community-led solutions to these challenges, using existing community assets and innovative programming models to lift families out of poverty for good, and build stronger, more connected neighborhoods in the process. Stay tuned!