Byrne Updates

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant Request for Proposals

BCJI Presentations during the March 15th joint MPCA and MPRC meeting, where residents discussed and reflected on Year 2 of the Byrne Grant.

BCJI Presentations during the March 15th joint MPCA and MPRC meeting, where residents discussed and reflected on Year 2 of the Byrne Grant.

Several announcements around the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI): 

 Year 3 BCJI Funding Strategies Identified

Early last week, 83 McElderry Park residents voted to prioritize 6 of the 20 strategies identified by the community in 2013 as strategies that would lead to crime reduction. The 6 strategies that will be prioritized for funding in Year 3 of the BCJI Program are (1) cleanliness and sanitation, (2) education, (3) recreational spaces and programs, (4) workforce development, (5) mentoring, and (6) community building and organizing. You can see the specific implementation suggestions for each of these strategies on the list of crime reduction strategies in the attached “BCJI – List of Crime Reduction Strategies.”  

 Year 3 BCJI RFP Released

Below you will find the BCJI - Year 3 - Request for Proposal. All proposals are due by 5PM on Friday, April 10th and should be submitted electronically to me at If you have any questions, please feel free to give Amy a call at 410-818-6387 or email me. We held information sessions last night and this morning and will hold a third session this Thursday, April 2nd at 6:30PM. Location to be announced.

 McElderry Park Community Connections

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, an array of city agencies and services sent representatives to the McElderry Park neighborhood to provide resources to interested residents. The BCJI outreach team and #reconstruct #rebuild knocked on doors in the neighborhood to encourage folks to utilize the resources.

We want to hear your feedback on this process. This is the second year that a form of the “Community Connections” (formerly called a “Public Safety Initiative”) has come to the neighborhood. We want to know if the services and resources offered by agencies and other providers were of use to you. Please contact Amy Hartman or Daniel Atzmon at or 410-396-9521 to let us know your thoughts and suggestions as to what did and didn’t work and what could be improved upon. Please also let us know if there are any specific issues that we can follow up on. 

Thank you for ongoing support and engagement as we move into Year 3 of the BCJI Program.

BCJI Updates & Events

Upcoming Events

McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition (MPRC) - Monthly Meetings
Wednesday, February 18th at 6PM at 611 N. Montford Avenue
Wednesday, March 18th at 6PM at 611 N. Montford Avenue

Block Leader Trainings
Wednesday, February 11th at 6PM Banner Neighborhoods, 2900 E. Fayette St. RSVP required for handouts and refreshments to Beth at (443) 618-2509 or

3rd Annual Spring Fling Festival
The 3rd annual Spring Fling with music performances, health fair, cookout, and art exhibits on Amazing Port Street in McElderry Park, will be held April 11th, 2015. Please contact Maya Gaines at (443) 909-1426 between 10AM-5PM Monday through Friday to get involved.

McElderry Park All-Call System
The Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI) outreach team is developing a neighborhood "all-call system" so that you can recieve a once-a-week reminder phone call about monthly  community meetings, block leader gatherings, community-wide events, and McElderry Park Star updates. You can join by texting the word "community" to the number 97000 and you can rate this newspaper, the McElderry Park Star, while signing up.

On the Horizon

Measuring Collective Efficacy
Collective efficiacy, a shared belief among community members that by working together, we can make a difference, is a primary focus of the Byrne program.The BCJI outreach team, along with the team of block leaders, will begin measuring community involvement, willingness to get involved/barriers to involvement, the sense of cohesion and trust, and the perception of crime and fear of victimization. The information gathered from surveys and conversations will inform the team and the MPRC as to how to engage new and different residents in coming endeavors.

Sustaining Year 2 Programs
The BCJI Program Manager will be working with each of the Year 2 funded programs to strengthen and sustain their programs around workforce development, cleaning and greening, creating more opportunities for youth, and public safety.

Expansion of Block Leader Infrastructure
The BCJI program aims to support Beth Myers-Edwards of Banner Neighborhoods and the McElderry Park Community Association in expanding and growing the McElderry Park block leader structure.

Strengthening Relationship with the Baltimore Police Department
The December MPRC meeting served as a productive conversation with Major Deron Garrity of the Southeast Police District. A wide variety of topics were discussed, ranging from opportunities to increase the number of foot patrol officers to the long-strained relationship between police officers and communities of color. Along with several other partners, we are working to both create new opportunities and strengthen existing efforts to bridge the divide and find commonalities in purpose between these two separate, but inextricably linked universes.

Year 3 Funding Process
The BCJI Executive Committee and the MPRC are working to develop the Year 3 funding process for the BCJI program. Information sessions and grant-writing trainings will be announced in the near future.

Updates from BCJI Program Manager

By Amy Yockus Hartman

I hope that everyone is enjoying the beautiful transition into the Fall harvest season.

Our new workforce development program, the McElderry Park Teen Initiative, and a cleaning and greening program for the neighborhood have now all officially launched! In this edition of the McElderry Park Star, you’ll find updates on each one of the aforementioned programs, as well as enrollment and contact information for each of the programs. If you’re still interested in enrolling or you know someone that wants to participate in the programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the program representatives to get signed up. It’s not too late!

On Saturday, September 20th, 22 McElderry Park residents – all members of the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition – headed to North Philadelphia for the day to visit another Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grant recipient in the North Philadelphia neighborhood of Mantua. We had an incredible time and learned a lot – please check out the article and pictures from the trip in this edition of the Star.

Our last two Coalition meetings have been the strongest and most well-attended of any we’ve had since the inception of the grant in October 2012. We had 52 attendees at our September meeting! Thanks to everyone that’s been coming out. We’re making some real progress. The next meeting is Wednesday, October 15th at 6PM. Please come out and hear more about what we’re up to.

When we’re spending close to one million dollars in a specific neighborhoods, it’s important that we are entirely transparent about the way in which the money is being spent and that we have an ongoing community-guided conversation about where the money should be going. To this end, at the Coalition meeting in September, we made public the Year 1 and Year 2 budget for the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. A copy of the budget is in this edition of the Star. Please look it over and call me or email me with any comments, thoughts, or suggestions.

What’s next in October and November for the Coalition?

Now that we have launched the first series of our neighborhood-wide programs, we’re beginning to work in a closer collaboration with the McElderry Park Community Association. The executive committee of the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition has made it a primary priority to further strengthen and grow the McElderry Park Community Association over the next two years and we’re doing this by building out a strong infrastructure within Community Association. We want to support individual McElderry Park residents and individual blocks with what they want for their homes, their blocks, and their neighborhood. This will take the form of a block leader structure whereby interested residents can go through a “situation-solving” training to learn how to interact with city agencies and city services to get things done on their block, whether it be working with the Department of Transportation to fix a broken street light or working with the Department of Public Works to improve the regularity of trash pick-up for their block. Residents are also being asked to fill out “community situation-solving forms” (see on the next page) so that they can get additional support from community leadership in helping them solve these house by house, block by block issues.

Additionally, the Coalition and Community Association want to begin support resident-led initiatives. You may be interested in getting flower planters for every house on your block or you may want to do exterior lights for each home on your block. We’re working to develop a block grant program through which these types of projects would be possible. This program is still in the works. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas on how a program to support block by block intitiatives could be made strongest.

Thanks again for all of your support and engagement over the past few months. We’re doing some incredible work! As always, don’t hesitate to call or email me with your concerns, ideas, or suggestions.

McElderry Park Teen Initiative Updates

By Waverly Carter

The McElderry Park Teen Initiative is catching on and gaining momentum.  Currently we have 7 dynamic programs offering enriching activities that will educate, motivate and increase self-confidence.   We have programs for youth (14-18) who are interested in exploring or expanding their creative talents and also opportunities for students to receive academic assistance on several subjects.  We provide an opportunity for youth to come together and discuss social issues that affect their communities and explore solutions that are sustainable.  Achieving our goal of increasing attendance in school and decreasing negative activities in our community is a daunting task.  I have been privileged to work with and mentor countless youth in my life and I believe the programs offered by MPTI will impact our youth positively by instilling self-awareness. It is our goal to provide a safe zone for our youth and empower them to believe in themselves by providing relevant evening programs that will allow them to grow socially and emotionally.

We are committed to making a difference in our youths’ lives by encouraging and motivating them to excel beyond their wildest dreams.  A great indicator of whether programs are effective is feedback from the participants. I was encouraged one night leaving a program called Video Lab.  I have been in contact with a young man in the community for several years and one day we were talking about his decisions and the consequence from his actions.  He stated that he was living day to day and had no support from his parents.  He said the only reason he “hustled” was to eat, buy clothes and have a place to stay.  I listened to this young man tell his story of all the crimes he committed and how he wanted to change but didn’t see a way out.  He also mentioned that he didn’t do drugs or drink.  I offered to take him with me to Video Lab and he was eager to go but he asked if his friend could go as well, I said yes.  He was a little nervous at first and had very little to say but I witnessed him taking everything in and he began to provide feedback and dialogue with instructors and other youth present.  The more he talked and participated in the discussion, his confidence was growing and growing.  It was such a powerful moment.  As we were leaving he asked me if he sounded stupid.  I said “no you didn’t and as a matter of fact they enjoyed having you and begged me to bring you back”.   He had the biggest smile I have ever seen him have.  He said it felt good being heard. He stated “this was the first time white people ever listened to me”.  I realized at that moment that not only did he feel safe enough to express his thoughts but he was delighted to know that what he had to say was important. Out of school programs work and if relevant can prove to be life changing.  This young man I spoke of is now interested in making documentaries and he’s in a place where he will be guided along the process and from there the sky is the limit.  Let’s remember that it takes a village and we all play a part in our youth lives, negatively or positively.  We are interested in developing other programs that will enhance our youths’ lives so if you have ideas or want to help support this great initiative please contact Coach Carter at (410) 585-8810 ext. 105.

Academic Achievers: Academic Support and Safe Space for Neighborhood Youth

By Lillian Drumgold

It’s the beginning of the school year in Baltimore City and that means one of many things, but among them is the need for academic supports for our youth.

Academic Achievers is an out of school tutoring and homework assistance program for children ages 6 to 12. Youth who attend will first enjoy an after school snack while talking and debriefing with each other about their day. Following snack time is homework and/or reading time- where they have the option of working on the day’s or week’s homework, an assigned school project, or they may choose a book to read from Banner’s library or one that they have brought with them.  Students are encouraged to work independently and are also assisted  by an adult tutor upon their request.

After academic and literacy enrichment, youth will have reflection time- each Club member will receive a journal in which they are encouraged to write their thoughts, ideas, and interests; all journal entries are judge-free and not subject to scrutiny or ridicule from the volunteer tutors or other members.

What’s a youth group meeting without fun time? After youth have devoted their immediate after school time to bettering themselves in the realm of academia, they are rewarded with free time which normally consists of playing games and various arts and crafts. On days where the weather is sunny and cooperative, the group has the option of recreational time in Banner’s yard or venturing to either Patterson or Ellwood Park.

Field trips are a part of each semester, and all activities are free. Academic Achievers meets on Mondays and Wednesdays at Banner Neighborhoods, located at 2900 E. Fayette St. Meetings begin at 3:00 and end at 4:45.

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