WBC CDC: Fulfilling the Promise of Forest Park

BCF’s place-based investing in Northwest Baltimore is rooted in an understanding and respect for the area’s history and culture. Liberty Heights Avenue played a significant role in the journey of many upwardly mobile Baltimore families throughout the 20th century. But direct investment in this part of the city began to dry up once the racial demographics of the communities changed. These neighborhoods—while becoming and remaining the bedrock of the Black middle class in Baltimore—became a less certain avenue for upward economic mobility. Housing values stagnated. Amenities began to disappear. The Black middle class that has formed the foundation of these communities for decades also makes up the largest group of people abandoning the city, contributing to its population loss.

Fortunately, the Liberty Heights Avenue corridor has several strong elementary schools on which to capitalize and leverage neighborhood investments. BCF is digging deep in these selected school communities—Calvin M. Rodwell Elementary/Middle in Howard Park and Liberty Elementary School in Forest Park—listening to residents’ vision and equipping community-based organizations with the resources they need to build on neighborhood assets, attract further investment, and develop social capital.

A great example is the Wayland Baptist Church Community Development Corporation, now known as WBC CDC. The group initially provided food and social activities for seniors in Forest Park and surrounding neighborhoods, including Ashburton, Garwyn Oaks, Gwynn Oak, Howard Park, and West Arlington. In 2010, the group took a great leap forward, partnering with Bon Secours and Enterprise Homes to build Wayland Village, a 90-unit complex for low-to-moderate income seniors and disabled individuals. Since then, it has launched the Forest Park Alliance, gathering representatives from six nearby neighborhood associations to advocate for improved public services and ensure residents have a voice in community development efforts. Amazingly, all of this work was done by volunteers with no paid staff.

In 2019, BCF made a grant of $150,000 to the group to hire its first full-time executive director and staff the Forest Park Alliance. Beyond grantmaking, BCF facilitated a connection between Baltimore Business Lending—a BCF impact investment recipient—and the Forest Park Alliance to assist local entrepreneurs via their small business loan program. “We are being really diligent about the role a CDC can play in restoring this community because focusing on schools without neighborhoods—or vice versa—is a non-starter,” says Tracy Evans, WBC CDC’s new executive director. “You have to do both and leverage all of the opportunities to disrupt the pockets of distress, be better stewards of the assets, keep current residents, and attract new ones to create the demand for a dynamic business ecosystem—where businesses are providing the goods and services that residents want and need.”

Under Tracy’s leadership and working hand-in-hand with longtime leaders like Board President Laurence Campbell, WBC CDC has launched a host of initiatives to improve quality of life and attract new residents and businesses. These include buying and renovating homes, partnering with greening organizations on beautification projects, aligning with city agencies to address code violations and illegal dumping, and supporting local schools. It has also launched a master planning process, which, Tracy says, has validated what makes a community vibrant. “Residents want safe places to play and gather, housing types that meet their needs, and rich amenities like small businesses that are embedded in the community, not solely transactional. All of that once existed; we just need to recapture the energy.”

 

+ posts
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Who We Are – Sidebar
Recent Article
Sidebar Ad
Building Stronger Neighborhoods Regionwide

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

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.

How Can We Help?

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

Apply for a Grant

Our on-line application system provides applicants with a portal to start a new grant application or to continue updating an application already in process. Please be sure to select the “Save and Finish Later” button when you are finished working on your application in order to save your current session’s work. At any time during the application process you can select the “Contact Us” button in the top right corner of the screen and you will be able to send an email to the Baltimore Community Foundation staff with specific questions. 

To be considered for funding, proposals must be submitted through the online application portal, however, we provide a PDF version of the application along with other useful forms here for your reference:   

When you are ready please select one of the following options:

OPTION 1

I have not applied for BCF funding online in the past.
Select this option if you have never used our website to apply for a grant from BCF.

OPTION 2

I previously applied for BCF funding online in the past.
Select this option if you have applied for any of BCF’s grants using our website. Your profile may still be in our system and you may login using your account.

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.

How Can We Help?

John A. Gilpin

J.D., CAP®,AEP®

Director of Planned Gifts
410-332-4171 ext. 132

How Can We Help?

Kate Sam

Communications Officer
410-332-4171 ext. 181

How Can We Help?

Cathy Brill

Executive Director
Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation