RHIC partners with Dorothy I. Height Elementary School in building a more cohesive community because healthy schools are integral to healthy neighborhoods. Driven by our shared values—belonging, connection, opportunity, and safety—we work together towards the vision of our children, families, and neighbors for their school and neighborhood.

This report was commissioned by Healthy Neighborhoods, Inc. with a grant from Enterprise Community Partners, on behalf of Reservoir Hill. It traces the John Eager Howard Elementary School design process from 2011 – 2015. This process also included the planning to close and merge Westside Elementary School, located in the Penn North community, with John Eager Howard Elementary.

The new school, Dorothy I. Height Elementary, opened April 2018. RHIC is proud of our involvement throughout the design process.


Are you passionate about education & recreation opportunities in Reservoir Hill?


Join the Education & Recreation Community Engagement Committee

This committee's purpose is to:

  • Obtain neighborhood concerns & feedback related to EDUCATION & RECREATION opportunities within Reservoir Hill.

  • Create opportunities for neighbor involvement in the LEARNING of neighborhood children, i.e. tutor at Dorothy Height or St. Francis Neighborhood Center.

  • Work with city agencies & allied organizations, i.e. BCPS, Judi Center, In/For/Of, Child First, & St. Francis Neighborhood Center to address issues related to the transition of Westside students to the new Dorothy Height Elementary.

  • Create RECREATION opportunities for all age ranges, i.e. start a community sports league or host a movie night at a park.

  • Work with city agencies & allied organizations, i.e. Dept. of Rec & Parks, Dept. of Planning, Neighborhood Design Center, to enhance, renovate, or add recreational opportunities, i.e. German Park & the Whitelock South Lots.

In this way, WE Build a Better Neighborhood

Ongoing Opportunities from Community Partners & Allies


St. Francis Neighborhood Center’s Power Project

St. Francis Neighborhood Center (SFNC), in the Spring of 2009, established a free after school youth development program called The Power Project.

The Power Project consists of three major components: education, mentoring and the arts.  This program provides disadvantaged youth living below poverty in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood, ages 5 to 15, with the opportunity to receive academic enrichment, one-on-one tutoring, attend educational seminars and workshops, participate in our dance, art and music groups, and establish valuable relationships with caring and responsible individuals who will serve as positive role models in their lives.

The after school program is free and held at the Center Monday through Thursday from 3:00 to 6:15 pm during the school year with snacks and dinner provided. The program can accommodate on average, 50 children at a time.   

If you are interested in enrolling your child in this program, please contact the Youth Program Manager, Jessica Childress at jchildress@stfranciscenter.org or call 410-669-2612.


Baltimore Education Coalition & Transform Baltimore

RHIC was a founding member of the BEC in 2009. BEC continues to play an active role as the coalition organizes and mobilizes to ensure that all children in Baltimore City receive an excellent education. RHIC works with city-wide partners to foster excellent schools and stellar school facilities, and promote strategic investment in neighborhoods.

Baltimore Education Coalition is a citywide grassroots network that advocates for high quality public education for Baltimore City students.  In recent years, the coalition has prevented over $100 million dollars in proposed funding cuts to city schools, which ensured that John Eager Howard and schools citywide did not lose critical funding to maintain teachers and resources in the classrooms.  The coalition also played a critical role in the Transform Baltimore campaign, which won $1 billion to rebuild or renovate schools in Baltimore City.  This $1 billion represents the first phase of Baltimore City Public School System’s 21st Century Schools for Our Kids – the initiative to modernize all city school buildings - to get started.  This effort was successful due to the dedication and perseverance of thousands of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and community leaders who came to Annapolis and City Hall to make their voices heard for Baltimore City’s 85,000 students and their communities.

The Transform Baltimore campaign calls upon elected officials and decision-makers at city, state, and federal levels to adopt and implement a funding plan to renovate and modernize all public school buildings in Baltimore City within eight years.  Now that the first $1 billion has been secured, the campaign (1) monitors and supports the implementation of the city’s 21st Century School modernization initiative, (2) advocates for full funding of the entire ten year plan for modernizing city schools, and (3) advocates for strategic planning in communities where schools are being built to increase and guide neighborhood investment.

Past RHIC-Led Initiatives


John Eager Howard School Design Advisory & Action Team

From 2013-2015, the JEH Design Advisory and Action Team (DAAT), a collaborative group of community members & advocates, worked closely with the 21st Century Schools' architects on the new school design and gathered further feedback from the broader community. The DAAT was committed to modeling a community engagement process which could be utilized in other neighborhoods and schools. Our process was recognized by City Schools as representative of the type of community engagement they hope will be fostered in other neighborhoods affected by the 21st Century Schools plan.


Greening John Eager Howard

After three years of hard work, JEH was awarded Maryland Green School Certification in Spring 2013. The school's greening culture has now been transferred to JEH's temporary location at Westside Elementary. 

After developing the school's environmental education opportunities, staff, students, and families grew increasingly interested in wellness. We believe that in order to stay de-stressed and our children to be focused learners, we need to proactively take care of our bodies by paying attention to proper nutrition and exercising. John Eager Howard, Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, and B'more Fit Academy has supported through health fairs and fitness nights, as well as fundraising for fitness equipment.


In 2005, parents, neighbors, and school staff were worried about Reservoir Hill’s neighborhood school, John Eager Howard Elementary School (JEH), because it was threatened with closure as part of a city-wide process to reduce school facility space. In response to this threat, the school community organized and founded the "Better Schools Initiative"; more than 250 residents participated in community meetings, a door-to-door petition drive, city-wide planning meetings addressing facilities needs and closures, and ongoing advocacy. This group succeeded in not only keeping the school in the neighborhood, but also in securing increased funding for facility improvements. 

In Winter 2013, 3,000 Baltimore City parents, students, teachers, and neighbors stood together in Annapolis demanding better school buildings for our children. John Eager Howard, working with Child First Authority and RHIC, brought 80 people--the third highest turnout from across the city--for the February Rally.

Baltimore City Public School buildings were facing a $2.4 billion deficit, with 85% of public schools in poor condition-- John Eager Howard alone was assessed at needing $14-16 million in renovation and repair costs. In April, the Baltimore Education Coalition and Transform Baltimore's hard work paid off when the state approved the $1 billion school construction bill.  The Baltimore Education Coalition is a city-wide grassroots partnership of over 25 organizations, including RHIC, Child First Authority, ACLU, united by a mission and vision for public education in Baltimore City. Over the past three years, these groups have prioritized city school construction funding and worked to bring a plan to fruition for Baltimore City.  

This school construction bill will fund the first 5 years of BCPS' 10 year plan to fully renovate and rebuild all Baltimore City schools. Within BCPS 10 year plan, JEH is set for a "Year 1 Renovation with Possible Addition or Replace". More information about the recommendation, as well as the initial study of the buildings' current state can be found here via this link.