INSPIRE Program Back-to-School e-Update

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INSPIRE, a Baltimore City Department of Planning program

Back-to-School eUpdate: September 2017


INSPIRE focuses on neighborhoods immediately surrounding each of the schools being modernized through the 21st Century Schools Initiative. Plans aim to generate activity around housing, safe transportation, green land reuse, healthy food, and more. 

INSPIRING a Safe Start to the School Year

One principal goal of INSPIRE is to improve conditions along primary walking routes to the 21stCentury schools. At Frederick Elementary and Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle – the first two school buildings to re-open – students traveled to school on opening day along sidewalks that were safer and more enjoyable because of sidewalk, crosswalk, and other pedestrian improvements and new street trees. DOP highlighted these improvements with school faculty and parents at a back-to-school event at Frederick.

Hop on Board the Frederick Elementary Walking School Bus

At Frederick Elementary School, Sabrina Wiggins, the new Community School Coordinator, worked with the Baltimore Curriculum Project (BCP), Bon Secours Community Works, and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to develop a walking school bus that would provide adult leaders to safely guide children to and from school every day. This was in response to confirming with parents that many students would walk to school.

While getting children safely to and from school is the top priority, the walking school bus also provides an opportunity to teach children listening skills, how to cross the street, and how to respect the community. Ms. Wiggins enjoys the chance to become more familiar with the community and Frederick parents.

Parents interested in having their children participate should contact Ms. Wiggins at the school.s placeholder text.

Plan Adoption

In the coming months, DOP will present these INSPIRE plans to the Planning Commission:

  • Robert Poole Building
  • Pimlico
  • Forest Park + Calvin Rodwell
  • Patterson

Five plans have been adopted by the Planning Commission to date, and another three will be presented by the end of the year. Visit the INSPIRE web site to view Recommendation Reports and Plans.

Grant Opportunities

MECU Neighborhood Event Grants (10/1 deadline)

Baltimore neighborhood associations and community-based non-profit organizations are eligible for up to $1,000 to produce an event for the community and residents they serve.

Find out more. 

2017/2018 School Year Green, Healthy, Smart Challenge Grant (11/3 deadline)

Apply today for student-led sustainability projects in Baltimore City Public Schools. Students, as part of an organized green team, will complete projects focused on waste reduction, conservation, greening, energy, healthy food, water, and more.

Find out more.

Partnerships Lead to Enhancements to Reservoir Hill Park

Mural Sketches

Community members in the Dorothy I. Height Elementary School (formerly John Eager Howard) INSPIRE planning area strongly advocated for enhanced neighborhood recreation spaces to be part of the plan. They zeroed-in on German Park as the site for INSPIRE program-funded improvements because of its importance to the neighborhood. Regularly, community stakeholders use the park for socializing, play, exercise and celebrations. Additionally, the park is in close proximity to other community assets like the St. Francis Neighborhood Center, Whitelock Farm, and a community garden.  

INSPIRE funding will help support Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks as staff implements a new park master plan that was created by the Neighborhood Design Center on behalf of the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council.  Seizing an opportunity to kick-start visible improvements in the park, INSPIRE worked with Art @ Work on the creation of an exciting and unique park mural.

German Park Mural

Cultivating Youth Leadership

Art @ Work, a project of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA), Jubilee Arts, and 901 Arts, helped 80 young people design and paint eight murals around the city including the INSPIRE-sponsored effort at German Park.  The project involved painting steps on a prominent pavilion, and the team named themselves “Team Levels” due to the multi-elevation canvas. The project’s lead artist, Julie Horton, led youth in conducting outreach to interview community members about their thoughts about the community. Before painting commenced, youth presented their design idea to the neighborhood for final input.  This youth leadership and community engagement effort resulted in the mural theme of “Break Through,” representing positive growth and progress in the surrounding community. 

FREE BOOK ALERT:  Building the Next Generation of Baltimore Change-Makers


In order to effect change, Baltimore youth need to understand the complex forces that shape their city. Learning about Baltimore’s civic and political systems however, is largely absent from public schools. In the My Baltimore Book, Becky Slogeris (a former MICA student and current faculty member) collaborated with teachers and students to create a resource tool that works to fill this gap.

With kid-friendly messages, the My Baltimore Book explains key social studies concepts and prompts students to apply what they learn toward improving their school, neighborhood, and city. The book covers six units on topics like Transportation, Housing, and Health & Safety and culminates with students developing an action plan. The book also provides a reading list that connects to their lives outside of school. 

To date, over 125 schools have used the book. As a result, teachers and students have organized mock elections, mapped their neighborhoods and designed their own cities; and created a needlepoint map of their community. One teacher noted, “Third graders love coming up with innovative ideas. I think it showed them that they can come up with ideas and be agents of change.”

Get the Book!

The My Baltimore Book is available for FREE for all Baltimore City Public School 3rd grade students for the 2017-18 school year. Email for more information. If you are not a 3rd grade teacher but would like to learn more, write to the same address.

Free Educator Downloads!

Visit to download a free teacher’s guide, sample activities, and discussion questions for each unit. 


Sept 30 - Community Information Forum: Working Together to Preserve Cherry Hill

9 am-12 pm at Arundel Elementary/Middle School (2400 Round Road).

If you live, work, worship, or play in Cherry Hill, come out to discuss INSPIRE plan implementation, the 21st Century School progress, Cherry Hill’s food environment, environmental improvement, and housing redevelopment.

Contact the Cherry Hill Development Corporation for more information. (410) 355-1145.

INSPIRED to Take Action?

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 a plan in process in your neighborhood.

To find out about upcoming meetings, news from our partners, see photos, and more, check out our Facebook page.

city of baltimore

Catherine E. Pugh,

Baltimore City Planning

417 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202


department of planning

Thomas J. Stosur,