Southwest Partnership

Education and Workforce Development Committee



Clay Pots 1635 W Pratt St



Adenike Akintola

Eric Clay

Ellen Craven

Tlee Cooper

Brian Dorsey

Edith Gilliard Canty

Joanne Nathans

Lou Packett

Tyler Packett

Dottie Page

John Renner

Lisa Rawlings (Chair)

Brian Sturdivant

Lisa Vander

Jen Webber

Elizabeth Weber


  1. New Business
    1. Community Resource Workshops

After the success of the Committee’s dinner for SWP area principals, the BioPark reached out to the Chair about other community events that could be held in the BioPark. The Committee is planning three Community Resource Workshops: one on finding funding for community projects and programs held on July 29th at 5pm (organized by Brian Sturdivant), one on expungement held on August 26th at 5pm (organized by Elizabeth Weber), and one that will be an open house of workforce programs in the SWP area (organized by Lisa Rawlings).


A day and time for the workforce open house workshop needs to be determined. Lisa asked the representatives from the service providers at the meeting (Clay Pots, Paul’s Place, Bon Secours ) if Wednesday evenings would work. They would, and the final workshop will be held on a Wednesday evening at a date to be determined.


Lisa Rawlings, as Chair, had asked the BioPark Board for funding for the workshops to pay for food and outreach materials. Normally this request would go to the Committee as a whole, but the Board’s last meeting for the summer was the same night as the Committee meeting. Lisa requested $900 for the three workshops ($300 for each workshop).


B.Committee and Meeting Leadership


Lisa is planning on starting graduate school in the fall and her classes would be on Tuesday and Thursday nights, meaning that she would be unavailable for the Board of Directors meetings. Lisa Rawlings will ask Committee members who are potentially interested in becoming chair to lead meetings over the summer, to see if they would like to run for chair.


Lisa Vander is interested, but would be unable to start until the fall. Lisa Rawlings will also send an email out to the Committee members who are not at the meeting to see if anyone else is interested. The Committee meeting is typically the third Friday from 3-4:30. Every third meeting is an evening meeting, and the days and times of those change. The SWP Board of Directors meets the third Tuesday from 7-9pm, and the Committee Chair would represent the Committee on the Board.


Lisa Rawlings asked the Committee if they had suggestions on how to determine who should vote for the new Committee Chair.


Lou suggested that some previous attendance qualification be required, to ensure that people voting for the Committee Chair were involved in the Committee and committed to the process. Joanne suggested that people who voted be willing to take responsibility for some of the work of the Committee, although that would be hard to measure.


Lisa will right up a draft of voting rules to be presented at and voted on at the next meeting.


  1. TechShop and Lion Brothers Building: John Renner and Jen Webber from Cross Street Partners are asking for the Committee’s support for the project of redeveloping the Lion Brothers Building at 875 Hollins St. Lisa clarified to the Committee that the neighborhood association (Hollins Roundhouse) would have to support the project before the SWP could offer any support. The Lion Brothers project would include Tech Shop (a collective ‘maker space’ that people can join for about $100 a month to have access to tools and equipment) as the anchor tenant as well as office space.


Cross Street came to the Education and Workforce Development Committee in particular because they think that the presence of TechShop would have an impact on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) in the neighborhood. It is not economically viable for them to take on projects like this without government subsidies.


They are looking into programs such as New Market Tax Credits to fund the redevelopment, and are planning on applying to the State Department of Housing and Community Development for a Strategic Demolition and Smart Growth Impact Fund grant, which is a program that provides grant funding for acquisition and strategic demolition (so not the entire building). Only governmental agencies or community based non-profits can apply for for this grant, and Cross Street Partners would like the Southwest Partnership to apply for it in partnership with them. They have already talked to Michael Seipp (SWP ED) about it, and he referred them to this committee and to the Hollins Roundhouse Neighborhood Association.


Cross St. could write the grant, but the SWP would need to send it and could administer the program. There are no other applications for this funding coming from the SWP Area.


Lisa R. asked if some of this money could be used to provide scholarships to community residents who would be unable to afford TechShop memberships. John Renner said that that money could not come from the DHCD grant, but that Cross Street Partners are making a grant to the Abell Foundation for TechShop scholarships–the program could work with existing programs in the neighborhood and be managed by existing programs.


Lisa Vander asked if it would be possible for the community to have some ownership stake in the building in exchange for partnering with the developers and providing them with the support and service of the community. Often communities are left with programs, which do not generate money, while for-profits have all of the wealth producing assets. John isn’t sure, and will have to get back to the Committee with the answer.


Adenike asked if there would be a way to ensure that the jobs produced by the development would go to people from the community.  John–Cross St. can’t control who their tenants hire, but there would be the possibility of a community benefits agreement or other ways to spell out local hiring practices, although he doesn’t know the details yet.


Lisa R. proposed/motioned that once they receive all of the answers to the Committee’s questions from John, the Committee votes via Survey Monkey to write a letter of support for Cross Street Partner’s grant application for the Lion Brother’s building (pending the approval of the neighborhood association).


The motion passed with no dissensions.


  1. Old Business
  1. Organizing Around School Quality (Brain S.)

The principal’s dinner was very successful. It was kept very small to allow the attendees to feel comfortable speaking freely, and the main issues raised were the need for support around attendance, mental health care, and literacy all of which offer room for support from the community. The principals in attendance suggested that a way to support them could be to advocate on their behalf with the school system. The next steps are to figure out what to advocate for and to make connections with those who were not in attendance. There will be space at the next meeting to discuss this, but the principals may need to meet separately beforehand.


Adenike mentioned that there are a number of resources for schools in the non-profits in the community, and that it would be great to connect with the principals.


An event report with additional details was sent to committee members via email.


  1. Workforce Needs Assessment (Joanne)

The plan is to begin with employers in a small geographic area first, and evaluation how the survey works. Employers will be contacted first via letter (Joanne is drafting one) and then via a phone call to set up an appointment. Interviewers will go in pairs. There will also need to be conversations with service providers about their capacity.

Joanne also reported that there are also plans within the Biopark to have a hotel constructed ideally opening early 2017—will need temporary employees and permanent employees, and the BioPark is asking the hotel management be willing to give first chance at all of those to jobs to people in SWP area. The providers and the Committee need to make sure that all have attractive applicants for those jobs


Lisa asked if the service providers would know who would be able to meet the skills needed. Bon Secours and Paul’s Place would, and Clay Pots could ask folks to report on needed skills on their intake forms.


Eric suggested that the management company could also do things such as paying for people’s Serve Safe Certifications or providing them at cost–the community and the workforce are assets and the companies should be willing to provide resources in exchange for having access to them.


  1. Targeted outreach around existing programs (Elizabeth)

Elizabeth and Linda Loubert met briefly to discuss this. The plan is to use the resource guide collected by the West Baltimore Employment project (edited to include all programs in the SWP area) and to have that information available electronically, in shortened flyer format, and in key locations in the community. Bon Secours is willing to have the Clean and Green Team do door hanging for the community resource workshops (Lisa R), and community festivals such as the Back to School Festival would be opportunities to share this information.


  1. Understanding background checks–the group (Deirde and Joanne Williams) have met and are working on a plan to get anchors to buy into the idea that a ‘fail’ on a background check doesn’t automatically mean that they were convicted of a felony, and shouldn’t disqualify someone from employment.


A subcommittee report on this was sent to committee members via email.


III. SWP Updates: moved into the office at 1401 Hollins St.


  1. About Clay Pots and Tour:

Clay Pots was founded in 2000 by neighbors who came together to make an impact in the community. They bought and renovated two adjacent rowhouses. Clay Pots started as an open space for people to come off the street for a cup of coffee–they now offer arts and wellness classes, GED classes, literacy and adult education and more. While they’ve been historically focused on adult education they are now moving towards supporting youth in the community as well. Adenike then took members of the Committee who were interested on a tour of the building. Many committee members stayed for Clay Pots regular Thursday night coffee hour.