Special Topics

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 Amy.Hartman@baltimorecity.gov. 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 Daniel.Atzmon@baltimorecity.gov 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 beth.myers@bannerneighborhoods.org

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.

Illegal Trash Dumping in Our Neighborhood

by Melissa Canady

There has been a tremendous amount of illegal trash dumping in our neighborhood especially down by the Amazing Grace Church in the back alley of the 2400 block of McElderry Street . We have a lot of new neighbors who have moved in the neighborhood. They keep putting their trash down by the church every trash day. I have taken it upon myself to go around to the Community Center and ask Mr. Glenn the President for some handouts. He gave me these handouts and I passed them out to the neighbors and they continue to dump their trash down the alley. We don’t have an active Block Captain on our block to go door to door and give out Welcome Packets to these neighbors. I have done all I could do I have called downtown no results have been made. So I am making it public knowledge so that we may resolve this problem as a community. the rats are starting to come back. I would be willing to do my part but we need the whole community to come out to help out. Please, if you would like to help out, go around to the community center to voice your concerns.

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Playground Rebuild Moves Forward

By Beth Myers-Edwards

As of the beginning of the year, the initiative to rebuild the Tench Tilghman Playground has moved into hyperspeed. We’re excited to report that we’ve taken all of the design and equipment concepts, ideas and suggestions residents and stakeholders submitted and integrated them into one draft design. We’d like to thank Hord, Coplan and Macht for their pro-bono support in creating the graphic for us to share! We’ve also been communicating with funders that could result in us having a new first phase of a new playground installed as early as June of this year! The time has come for you to get involved if you’d like to see this initiative more forward successfully. We’ll be looking for residents and stakeholders to play a role in the planning committee and several subcommittees which include community engagement, youth engagement, recruitment, fundraising, food, logistics, safety and maintenance and public relations. Despite the outside financial support, the community will need to make a contribution to the cost of the project. In order to reach fundraising goals, we are pre-selling t-shirts (see design), we built a crowd funding website and will be hosting fundraising events. Stay tuned for more information and order your t-shirt today! We’re also looking for people to participate in build workshops to finalize our design and more than 150 volunteers to assist with the actual build day. Call Beth at (410) 585-8810 or email beth.myers@bannerneighborhoods.org to sign up for a committee, design workshop, build day or to purchase a t-shirt. Support the effort by pledging to the crowdfunding campaign at www.crowdrise.com/ttplayground


T-Shirt Design. Contact Beth Myers-Edwards to place your order today!


Playground Site Concept drawing by Hord Coplan Macht

Playground Site Concept drawing by Hord Coplan Macht

Planting Pollinators and Saving Stormwater: Gardening and Greening Projects This Year


By Jennifer Kunze

At the Amazing Port Street Commons, we’re just entering the fall growing season, when some plants are finishing their maturation process and others are just beginning.  The pumpkins are turning orange, the corn is turning brown, and new beds of winter crops like kale, radishes, beets, and snow peas are just beginning to peek above the ground.

As we look toward the winter, it’s not too soon to think about next spring – especially because of some exciting projects now being planned.  Residents, churches, and partners in the McElderry Park have been collaborating on ways to improve the environment in McElderry Park, particularly our land and water use, gardening and planting, and the sustainability and health of the neighborhood.  As a part of that campaign, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has awarded these partners a grant to implement greening projects that will foster greater environmental awareness and a stewardship ethic within our community.  Project locations include Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, Prince of Peace Baptist church, and – with your participation – potentially even your own home.  The project’s two partners, Blue Water Baltimore and the National Wildlife Federation, will focus on two related goals: increasing native wildlife habitat and decreasing polluted runoff.

Rainwater Conservation

The city of Baltimore, including McElderry Park, was built on marshes, grassland, rivers, and forests.  Harris Creek once ran through McElderry Park, connecting Clifton Park with the Canton waterfront and providing both habitat for wildlife and resources for Baltimore’s residents.  Gradually put into pipes under our streets in the early 1900s, the watershed is now entirely underground – the storm drains and stormwater pipes leading to the Canton outfall are all that is left.  When rain falls in McElderry Park, it flows into those storm drains and directly to the Inner Harbor at the outfall in Canton, carrying trash, oil, and other pollution with it.  Excessive rainfall can put a lot of stress on the system, contributing to flooding, infrastructure damage, and even sewer overflows.  Fortunately, there are ways of collecting and storing rainwater where it falls, allowing us to use it in McElderry Park and preventing the issues that run-off creates.  Blue Water Baltimore is a local organization with a mission “to restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams and harbor to foster a healthy environment, a strong economy, and thriving communities.”  Blue Water Baltimore will work with local residents at partner locations to install a wide range of stormwater mitigation practices to improve the neighborhood, including:

  • replacing 1200 square feet of road and 400 square feet of sidewalk in the Amazing Port Street Commons (600 North Port Street) with pervious pavement, designed to allow rainwater to soak through it into the ground.
  • installing 300-gallon cisterns to capture the rainwater that falls on the roof of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church before it enters the storm drain, allowing gardeners to water plants in the Amazing Port Street Commons during dry spells.
  • building a 1200-square-foot bioretention system at Prince of Peast Baptist Church, intercepting rainwater that falls on its parking lot in a rain garden designed to allow it to soak slowly into the ground.
  • installing a combined 300-gallon cistern and 110-square-foot rain garden to capture stormwater from adjacent rowhomes at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Port Street.

Native Wildlife Habitat

The marshes, grassland, rivers, and forests that once covered Baltimore historically supported native wildlife, including orioles, sparrows, and millions of other migrating birds flying north and south along the Atlantic coast.  With the growth of the city, those habitats were replaced with concrete, and those animals were pushed farther and farther away from their previous homes.  It is possible, however, to support beneficial local wildlife within the city, beautifying the neighborhood and increasing the diversity of life in our neighborhood.  Plantings of certain native flowers and shrubs can provide the four factors native wildlife, like butterflies and birds, needs to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise young. By creating both large habitats in the neighborhood’s green spaces and community gardens, and small habitats in your own backyard, we can beautify the neighborhood and make it more healthy for people, plants, and animals alike.  The National Wildlife Federation, a national organization that works “to inspire Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future,” will work with partner locations and individual residents to implement projects that will become part of a network of oases for urban and suburban wildlife spanning Baltimore City, including:

  • designing and planting a 200-square-foot pollinator garden in the Amazing Port Street Commons.
  • planting 16 native trees on the grounds of Prince of Peace Baptist Church.
  • planting additional street trees near project sites, by the Baltimore Tree Trust (which has planted 251 street trees in McElderry Park in the past two years).
  • supporting up to 20 homes in McElderry Park in completing native habitat plantings and becoming certified as Community Wildlife Habitats.  Participants will receive education about urban wildlife and stormwater issues, consultations on design of their garden spaces, and $400 vouchers to Herring Run Nursery to support their planting projects.

This program is an exciting opportunity to beautify our neighborhood, make it more sustainable, and educate our children about the natural environment; to make it successful, we need your help!  If you have any questions or comments about this program – especially if you are interested in making your property a Community Wildlife Habitat or becoming a part of the planning team for the projects centered at Amazing Grace and the Amazing Port Street Commons – please contact Jennifer Kunze at the Center for Grace-full Living at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church at 410-563-9743 or amazinggracebaltimore@gmail.com.  Together, we can seize this opportunity to make McElderry Park a cleaner, greener, and healthier place.

Mobile Market Tests Waters at Library Square

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By Anthony Newman

Banner Neighborhoods and Civic Works partnered together for five weeks to offer fresh produce in Library Square. For one hour every week William Paca Elementary School parents and residents had the opportunity to purchase produce form the Real Food Farms Truck at Kenwood & Pulaski. In June, Friends of Library Square (FOLS) decided that a Mobile Market would be a good way to gauge the need for a potential Library Square Farmers Market. FOLS will evaluate the turn out and engagement to explore launching a full-fledged Farmers’ Market in the Square for Spring of 2015. Interested in helping with a Farmers’ Market Committee? Call Banner at (410) 585-8810.

Baltimore Neighborhood Stability Alliance Formed

By Beth Myer-Edwards

City-wide community leaders are gathering to discuss a problem that affects people in most neighborhoods across Baltimore.  Unmanageable water and gas/electric bill are barriers to building wealth and staying in and securing stable housing. They are a destabilizing force in our neighborhoods, causing owner occupied properties to be lost to tax sale, particularly in areas of concentrated disinvestment.

The solution to the problem doesn’t require us to reinvent the wheel.  The Baltimore Neighborhood Stability Alliance is calling for the creation of a pilot program that builds on financial coaching and housing counseling models to develop an advocate who’s role would be to assist people with the following: managing utility bills; ensuring that people are able to live in an energy efficient, affordable home in an environmentally friendly neighborhood; and retaining wealth from homeownership. The solution is one that benefits the city, utility companies, individuals and community. Counselors could be hosted at local community organizations.

Think this is a worthwhile cause? Here’s how you can get involved.

Join the alliance. A collective is building that will seek to advocate for the allocation of funding for an advocate and policy change to create a sustainable solution. Follow up with Beth for news on future meeting, working groups, etc.   

Share your story. Part of the way we raise visibility on the issue is by speaking about how it is effecting everyday lives. Submit your story to beth.myers@bannerneighborhoods.org. Share anonymously if you don’t have email access by dropping submission for Beth in the mailbox at 2900 E. Fayette St.

Stayed tuned for other ways to show your support like signing pledges and participating in letter writing campaigns. Need help now because you are in danger of losing your property? Call the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service at
(410) 547-6537.

Goucher Connects Day of Service in McElderry Park

On Friday, August 22nd, a group of freshman students from Goucher College visited McElderry Park for the afternoon. The group participated in partnership with the Baltimore Tree Trust, the McElderry Park Community Association and the Amazing Grace Lutheran Church to help clean the neighborhood. Students cleared overgrown lots, picked up trash, stenciled storm drains, and planted trees throughout McElderry Park. Check out some of the days’ highlights with these photographs by Rob Ferrell.

Meet Your Neighbor: Willard Brewington, II

Willard Brewington

Featured neighbor Willard Brewington poses with some of the most meaningful pieces in his home on Glover St.

Hello, my name is Willard Brewington II and I have lived in the McElderry area for ten plus years, first on Jefferson St. and currently on Glover St. I have seen both the good and bad of the community but I firmly believe a change is around the corner. I am a security officer at the Johns Hopkins University with Allied Barton Security Services which is very rewarding because it allows me to interact with young people from around the world.

My place of worship is Ezekiel Baptist Church which is located on East Fayette and North Luzerne. Mr. Cephus Hill Jr. is the pastor. He, along with Jesus Christ, saved my life because I was lost and on the road to hell.

I have been with my mate, Mary, since 1992 and married since 2009. I have two children; a daughter Kia, 33 years old, and a son Willard III, 17 years old. Willard is currently at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and was accepted to Frostburg State College.

I am known as The Gospel Poet because all of my creations are spirit based. The Lord gave me a gift and I intend to share it. I am a simple man who has been blessed because I’ve been there and done that! I can’t forget my sisters, Patricia and Sandra and their family members. In 2014 I want to work on a closer bond with family. Well that’s me in a nutshell. God bless and come visit me at Ezekiel one Sunday where music and good times reign supreme.

En Español

Hola, Mi nombre es Willard Brewington II y he vivido en la zona de McElderry durante más que diez años, por primera vez en la calle Jefferson y Norte Glover St. He visto lo bueno y lo malo de la comunidad, pero creo firmemente que un cambio es alrededor de la esquina. Yo soy un agente de seguridad de la Universidad Johns Hopkins con Allied Barton Security Services, que es muy gratificante, ya que me permite interactuar con los jóvenes de todo
el mundo.

Mi lugar de culto es la Iglesia Bautista de Ezequiel que se encuentra en el este de Fayette y el Norte de Luzerne. Sr. Cephus Hill Jr. es el pastor. Él, junto con Jesús Cristo, me salvó la vida porque estaba perdido y en el camino hacia el infierno.

He estado con mi compañera, María, desde 1992 y casado desde 2009. Tengo dos hijos, una hija, Kia, de 33 años, y un hijo Willard III, de 17 años. Willard se encuentra actualmente en Cristo Rey Jesuit High School y fue aceptado al Frostburg State College.

Me conocen como El Poeta Evangelio porque todas mis creaciones son basadas en el espíritu. El Señor me dio un regalo y tengo la intención de compartirla. ¡Yo soy un hombre sencillo que ha sido bendecido porque he estado allí y hecho eso!No puedo olvidar a mis hermanas, Patricia y Sandra y sus familiares. En 2014 quiero trabajar en un vínculo más estrecho con la familia. Pues ese soy yo en pocas palabras. Dios los bendiga y vengan a visitarme a Ezequiel un domingo donde la música y los buenos momentos reinan.

Fayette & Luzerne

By the Gospel Poet

Picture a dynamic pastor like T.D. Jakes
Mr. Cephus Hill Jr. has what it takes
He’s been there, done that as he brings the word
He leaves your spirit high, soaring like a bird
His congregation is known as The Faithful Few
To them, praising Jesus is nothing new
The choir is simply known as The Voices
And their song selection has many choices
The drums and keyboards are known as Mike + Mike
They can play anything that comes down the pike
We’ll give you a hug as you walk in the door
And as you leave, you’ll be asking for more
We don’t try to be fancy, we’re just down home
Come visit us once and you won’t want to roam
Ezekiel Baptist is our name
And we honor Jesus without any shame
Want good people, good music and the Bible to learn?
Come visit my church at Fayette and Luzerne!!

Byrne Criminal Innovation Grant Updates

Data Collection and Feedback from the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition. Months of Work and November 11th Sharing Session at Amazing Grace.

By LeVar Michael

This has truly been an exciting time for the McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition! We have worked hard over the last few months to construct a foundation for the development of new innovated programs for the McElderry Park community. These programs will be funded through the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant, and are designed to assist in the community in reducing crime and providing new
opportunity for residents.

We have conducted a comprehensive analysis of the issues facing the McElderry Park community. This analysis was developed by speaking with community residents, service providers, public safety professionals, community youth, and local leaders. In the end, after months of research, we were able to outline a few of the main issues facing McElderry Park. Issues highlighted through data collecting

  • Lack of community leadership
  • Physical decay of the community
  • Lack of programs for youth
  • Bad relations with Police
  • Lack of employment opportunity

McElderry Park has a total of 17.7% of its properties which are vacant. These undeveloped properties lead to physical decay of the community, and in most cases, provide criminals with highly desired areas in which to conduct their illegal business. These decayed properties, along with trash and disorder, give criminals the impression that no one cares about the community, and as a result, the community can be used and abused as they see fit.

According to 2010 Census data, 28.2% of McElerry Park residents live in poverty. In order to reduce these numbers we must begin to find employment solutions for individuals who are unemployed or under employed within McElderry Park. In the meantime, programs must be made available to assist families who are struggling to make ends meet.

As a community, we must also begin to find ways to incorporate local police officers into the programs, meetings, and initiatives which take place within McElderry Park. The police department must be committed to working with community residents and developing strategies to address the issues of public safety. Saying that, community residents must also put aside past grievances and create an environment where police officers feel welcomed
and invited.

Finally, we need to search far and wide within McElderry Park to identify new community leadership. We need more people at the table willing to give of their time to work on making this community a better place to live. We encourage residents to find ways to get involved with any project currently taking place within the McElderry Park community. It is only by working together, that we can begin the process of healing this community.

What’s Next: 

The McElderry Park Revitalization Coalition will now begin the process of evaluating evidence-based programs which have the ability to address the issues presented by the community. A team of individuals severing on a Planning and strategy committee will review data and suggest local evidence-based programs which could be funded to address community issues. This will be done in three simple steps:

  1. Review data and identify problems
  2. Search for programs which can address the problems
  3. Fund those programs

Over the next two months the MPRC and Planning and Strategy committee will be working on archiving these outlined goals. Community input and involvement is always desired. If you would like to take part in these discussions, please contact LeVar Michael to be placed on the meeting email or mailing list:
(443) 610-0588.

The McElderry Park Star and community members of McElderry Park submitted some images from the meeting, seen below.

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