City of Baltimore: School Redevelopment-Based Community Development

Report National Resource Network Baltimore, Maryland February 16, 2016 Community Development + Housing

In 2015, the City of Baltimore, Maryland, requested support from the National Resource Network to consider how best to leverage new school construction as part of 21st Century Schools Initiatives to revitalize distressed communities. Specifically, the City Department of Planning (DOP) wanted assistance engaging local anchor institutions as part of its small-area planning process around each of the new or renovated schools called, Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence, or INSPIRE.

In February 2016, the Network team prepared a memo highlighting several promising practices of anchor-led community development and how these components help position anchors for purposeful community development work. The Network focused on these four components:

  • The roles of anchor institutions play in community development work;
  • Cultivating partnership through connected activities and shared goals;
  • Developing outcome or impact strategic frameworks to drive strategies; and
  • Using processes to facilitate stakeholder buy-in and sustained engagement.

This memo and other documentation provided guidance to the city on how to operationalize the central recommendation of this Network engagement, which was to reorient the INSPIRE process from an activities-based process focused on capital improvements to an outcomes-based process focused on building a network of committed stakeholders – including anchor institutions – to build on-ramps to implementation and address interrelated needs.

To apply the promising practices identified to the INSPIRE planning areas, the Network team prepared a strategy matrix that summarized existing plans and strategies, and identified gaps across five sectors: housing, transportation, economic development, public health and safety, and community engagement. The memo concluded with observations for each of the planning areas, as well as recommendations of how these promising practices can be incorporated directly into the INSPIRE process.

The Network’s engagement team in Baltimore was led by Network consortium members Enterprise Community Partners and HR&A. In concert with this memo, the Network also developed a strategy for the city to use when considering the future of 26 school sites to be closed before 2024. That presentation is available here.

City of Baltimore: School Redevelopment-Based Community Development