The Weinberg Foundation today celebrated the grand opening of the 12th and 13th libraries renovated as part of the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project. The newly renovated spaces are located at Hampden Elementary/Middle and George Washington Elementary, where today’s official celebration took place. Featured speakers included Tisha Edwards, Chief of Staff, Mayor of Baltimore; Maryland Senator Bill Ferguson; and Dr. Sonja Santelises, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools.
The grand opening celebration was highlighted by the latest Library Project evaluation findings, including the first three Library Project schools outperforming more than 120 Baltimore City Public Schools on PARCC tests measuring reading fluency. Ms. Edwards and Senator Ferguson also explained how the Library Project’s base of support has grown even broader because of Casino Local Impact Grant funds made available to the City due to the development of Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. These funds accrue annually to the City from the State of Maryland. The State requires that a percentage of gaming revenue be invested to support community development in surrounding neighborhoods. The school hosting the grand opening celebration, George Washington Elementary, is located within one of the neighborhoods of this catchment area, known as the “South Baltimore Gateway.”
In addition to showcasing the transformed libraries, today’s celebration also included family tours of the renovated space at George Washington as well as a client choice food pantry, operated by The Heart of America Foundation and Maryland Food Bank, where each family selected 25 pounds of food, including fresh produce. Students and families at Hampden Elementary/Middle will showcase their space later in the week and will also have the opportunity to participate in family tours and a food pantry.
The Baltimore Library Project is a multi-year, collaborative effort to design, build, equip, and staff new or renovated elementary/middle school libraries in selected schools where existing funds can be leveraged. The Weinberg Foundation has committed $10 million to build or transform up to 24 Baltimore City Public School libraries in an effort to strengthen academic achievement among students. By the fall of 2017, the Library Project will be serving approximately 6,000 students or 10 percent of the total number of students, pre-kindergarten through grade eight, in all of Baltimore City Public Schools.
To learn more about this celebration, and the Library Project in general, click here.