In 2013, RHIC began working with Transform Baltimore partners to advocate  that the City strategically invest in neighborhoods around schools that are being redeveloped.  This subject was the focus of the panel discussion at RHIC’s 2013 Annual Meeting. 

After successful lobbying by the Transform Baltimore partners, Baltimore City initiated a strategic neighborhood planning process called INSPIRE that leverages the investment of the 21st Century Schools facility building campaign with additional public and private investments to create healthier, safer communities surrounding school modernizations, and promote community investments that support learning and student achievement.

Transform Baltimore is monitoring the development of these planning processes, and is creating pilot planning projects from which lessons could be derived that would shape planning in other neighborhoods.  Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) is a Transform Baltimore partner and is taking the lead in providing planning services to neighborhoods with schools scheduled for redevelopment in Years One and Two.  The pilot projects initiated by Transform Baltimore and Neighborhood Design Center are to create examples of engaged, community-based planning.  The initiative will partner directly with the Department of Planning, which is the city department responsible for implementing planning initiatives in neighborhoods where schools are being redeveloped.

At present there are three pilot projects that involve NDC working with a Transform Baltimore partner and Department of Planning.  Reservoir Hill, where John Eager Howard Elementary School is scheduled for redevelopment in Year One of the 21st Century Schools facility building campaign, is one of those three. 

Since this planning process builds directly from the school initiative, we have labeled our local project the John Eager Howard Community Investment Strategy/INSPIRE, and members of the School Design Team have been integral in crafting our local project.  At present, a community task force is coordinating community outreach and communication with NDC and the Department of Planning.

The John Eager Howard Community Investment Strategy/INSPIRE  is a comprehensive effort to leverage the opportunity of a new school facility by developing evidenced based recommendations for community investments and improvements that support enhanced student learning at John Eager Howard School (JEH), and create a healthier safer community that can support childhood learning and growth.  It will examine physical, programmatic, and social barriers to student performance and develop targeted solutions including: community services and programs to address student learning needs, public realm improvements to increase student safety and access to school, and physical improvements to enhance access and delivery of community services. It will achieve this through an engaged community planning process combined with rigorous data collection of existing conditions and needs, best practice and scholarly research of recommendations, value-based decision making, and collaborative engagement of community service providers, local foundations, City agencies, and JEH School leaders.  The first public planning session was held on 30 September 2014.  We expect the planning process to extend  to the end of spring 2015.

For more information contact Rick Gwynallen, 410.225.7547, rgwynallen@reservoirhill.net