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Promise Heights
University of Maryland School of Social Work
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Baltimore, MD 21201

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Promise Heights In The News

'West Baltimore's Renaisance Academy once again facing closure'

Jennifer Hasselbusch

Baltimore Sun reporter Erica L. Greene reports that new Baltimore City Schools CEO, Sonja Santelises, is recommending that Renaissance Academy be included as one of four schools to be closed at the end of this school year.  The previous recommendation for closure after SY14-15 was successfully overturned under then CEO Gregory Thornton.  Beyond reasons sited at the time of the original recommendation, Satelises states that the school is, "...a physical remind of a tragedy,"  and that attempts to find an alternative space for the school have fallen through.  Read the full article here for more detail.

Several meetings regarding this and other recommended closings have been announced by the school board:

  • Wednesday, November 16th - a meeting for students and parents to get information and give feedback to school officials regarding the potential closure.
  • Tuesday, November 22nd at 6 pm - a special session for the public regarding all recommended closures at BCPS Headquarters. 
  • Tuesday, November 29th at 6 pm - the public hearing regarding the closures at BCPS Headquarters.

Listening to the Voices of Young People by Martin J. Blank

Jennifer Hasselbusch

Martin Blank, President of the Institute for Educational Leadership, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post's blog about the importance of educators and community partners in schools.  Beginning with a quote from Khalil Bridges, he spotlights the work done by Renaissance Academy Principal Nikkia Rowe and Community School Coordinator Hallie Atwater to support high school students through the Seeds of Promise: Transforming Black Boys into Men program.  "As we continue our work, partners in the Coalition for Community Schools will not forget Khalil Bridges admonition to not overlook everyone else. It’s a matter of equity."

Click here to read the full article.

UPDATE on Khalil Bridges' GoFundMe

Jennifer Hasselbusch

Since Washington Post journalist Theresa Vargas first covered Khalil's journey on June 13th, over 411 people from all over have donated to the GoFundMe set up by Hallie Atwater, Renaissance Academy's Community School Coordinator, to exceed the initial goal by almost $10,000 and still going!  We could not be more proud of Kahlil for all that he has achieved and are confident that he will be able to achieve his dreams.

On June 23rd The Washington Post wrote a follow up article, "'Soar Khalil soar!' Nearly 250 strangers give a Baltimore teenager $30,000," about the widespread support that Khalil has received and his plans for the future which include attending a 4 year institution and becoming an athletic trainer of physical therapist.  You can read that full article here.

In a letter to editor published by The Washington Post on June 22nd in response to the June 19th article "Coming of age in a city coming apartment," Richard P. Barth, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, spoke regarding community schools and how they support schools in a holistic way to provide for students, families, and staff. 

If you would like to contribute to Khalil's future his GoFundMe page is still active.  In Khalil's own words, "I would like to say thank you for all the hope and support and motivation you’ve been giving me.  I love y’all for believing in me.” 


photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu, The Washington Post



"I don't know if people understand what is happening in Baltimore"

Jennifer Hasselbusch

The Upton/Druid Heights neighborhood is spotlighted by Theresa Vargas, journalist for The Washington Post, in her article "I don't know if people understand what is happening in Baltimore."  In it she interviews Rachel Donegan, Assistant Director of Promise Heights, and Nikkia Rowe, Principal of Renaissance Academy, about the community and how it affects those who live there.  Read the full article here.

photo credit: Jahi Chikwendiu, Washington Post

Renaissance Academy student Kahlil Bridges spotlighted by The Washington Post

Jennifer Hasselbusch

The Washington Post featured RAHS senior Kahlil Bridges in their article, "Coming of age in a city coming apart."  Written by Theresa Vargas, the article showcases Kahlil's journey so far and the many odds he has overcome to graduate from RAH on June 3rd.  Click here to read the full article.

What is also made painfully clear in this article is how uncertain his future remains.  A GoFundMe has been started to help make his dreams a reality.  If you would like to contribute, please visit his page.

Renaissance Academy an oasis for students

Jennifer Hasselbusch

Richard P. Barth, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and Bronwyn Mayden, Executive Director of Promise Heights, penned an Op-Ed piece for The Baltimore Sun about how Promise Heights works within the Renaissance Academy community to provide support services for students and staff members.  Click here to read the full article.

Renaissance Academy Graduating Class of 2016 featured in The Baltimore Sun

Jennifer Hasselbusch

On June 3rd, the graduating Class of 2016 walked the halls of Renaissance Academy for the last time.  After a year and a half of turmoil and tragedy, they celebrated their achievement surrounded by friends and family.  The Baltimore Sun was on hand to document this wonderful event.  The article, accompanying video, and photo gallery can be viewed on The Sun's website by clicking here.

We could not be prouder of the students at Renaissance Academy.  They have shown true determination in the face of extreme adversity.  As Principal Nikkia Rowe said in the article, "There will be thousands of kids who graduate this year but none of them have crawled from where we crawled."




Blaming Baltimore's Wolves by Nikkia Rowe

Jennifer Hasselbusch

In 2014 The Baltimore Sun published 3 articles as part of the "Collateral Damage" series which focused on the effects of violence on Baltimore's children and families.  In this article Nikkia Rowe, principal of Renaissance Academy High School, discusses her experiences with violence after the untimely death of 3 students in 90 days as well as the hope she witnesses in her school.  Click here to read the full article.