INSPIRE Program Update


An INSPIRE update from the Baltimore City Department of Planning

INSPIRE_web logo


What is INSPIRE?

INSPIRE, which stands for Investing in Neighborhoods and Schools to Promote Improvement, Revitalization, and Excellence, is a targeted planning effort aimed at making a big impact in Baltimore’s neighborhoods. This planning program focuses on the neighborhoods immediately surrounding each of the schools being modernized through the 21st Century Schools Initiative. INSPIRE will leverage the historic investment in Baltimore’s schools to further improve the environment and quality of life for students, their families, and neighborhood residents.

How can a plan and planning process do that? By ensuring that the millions of dollars of investment in each school help trigger additional investments in the surrounding neighborhood. By developing each INSPIRE plan in partnership with the residents, organizations, businesses, and other stakeholders in each area, the plans will reflect their vision and priorities.

Recommendations fall into six general categories:

  • Housing and Market-Strengthening Development Opportunities
  • Improving Sanitation
  • Improving Resident Safety
  • Creating Environmentally-Sustainable Neighborhoods
  • Creating Opportunities
    for Health and Wellness
  • Creating Connections and Access


21st Century Ad

Questions or Comments?

Contact us at 
with “INSPIRE update” in the subject line.

Dear Friends,

The Department of Planning is pleased to share with you an update about the INPSIRE program. A quarterly INSPIRE newsletter will be launched this fall; in the meantime, we hope that this update inspires you to take a new look at Baltimore’s neighborhoods. More information is available on the Department of Planning’s website

INSPIRE_Cherry Hill Mtg

Milestone Updates

We are well on our way to being able to deliver the first set of INSPIRE plans to the Planning Commission this year.

Four INSPIRE Draft Recommendation Reports have been completed; each final plan will reflect community, stakeholder, and City agency feedback.

Recent kick-offs, field research, or workshops have occurred for Arundel PK-2 and Cherry Hill 3-8, Forest Park High School and Calvin Rodwell Elementary School, Arlington Elementary School, Pimlico PK-8, Patterson High School, and the Robert Poole Building.

Visit the Plans page on the website to find out more about these planning processes and how to get involved in an INSPIRE process in your neighborhood.

Community Project Highlights

To help ensure the success of INSPIRE, $5 million in General Obligation Bonds are available to implement INSPIRE priorities and projects. Part of that funding will support a community-designated and developed project in each INSPIRE area. The following examples highlight a few of the projects residents have selected or are considering:

  • Fort Worthington PK-8: The Office of Sustainability is working with the Berea Eastside Neighborhood Association (BENA) to develop a community garden a few blocks north of the school. BENA has adopted the lot through the city’s Adopt-a-Lot program. Improvements to the lot include fencing, a small shed for tools and equipment, a small deck, and water access.
  • John Eager Howard Elementary School: There has been strong community interest in increasing recreation opportunities in and between Reservoir Hill and Penn North. The likely INSPIRE project to start this “recreation initiative” will be improvements to German Park at Linden and Whitelock, informed by a soon-to-be-developed master plan for the park. Through a request by the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council, the Neighborhood Design Center expects to begin developing the master plan design process in late summer. The INSPIRE project will also build on improvements to the German Park basketball court planned by Shoe City.
  • Frederick Elementary School: The Steering Committee, residents, and city agencies will be selecting a project over the summer. Possible projects include creating a walking path between Frederick and the Carrollton Ridge community, designing new community identifying signage, and improving play and recreation space. 

INSPIRE_Arlington mapping

Help Shape a Plan

The planning process includes a series of INSPIRE workshops with residents and other community stakeholders. Planning staff also participate in community meetings and events. Read more about the INSPIRE process.

To further help guide each phase of the process, we also work with INSPIRE steering committees. Steering committees are made up of residents, business, and anchor institution leaders; school leadership; elected officials; and other stakeholders. Members act as “ambassadors” and assist with outreach, field research, recommendation development and prioritization, and plan feedback. Recent steering committee activity included a Food Strategy Planning Session in the Arlington Elementary School INSPIRE area that brought in the Department of Planning’s food policy staff, the Department of Health’s Baltimarket Healthy Stores Program, and Parks & People. They discussed actions and projects related to a comprehensive food access strategy around Arlington.

Interested in getting involved? Review this map to see where the Department of Planning will be working on INSPIRE plans. Visit the Plans page on the website to find out who to contact to learn more about an INSPIRE process in your neighborhood.