Bringing Opportunity
    to the Community

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The Office of Community Outreach: A Unique Mission for a Unique Institution

Change4Real Planning Session

The Office of Community Outreach at Sojourner- Douglass College has a very unique function, which is to help the President define and implement the College’s self-determination philosophy in the community. This mostly involves leveraging the College’s assets e.g. workforce training, student and faculty resources, and applied research capabilities to support the human/community development aspirations of community residents, leaders and organizations.

The Office provides opportunities for the College to integrate theory with practice while collaborating with community partners in support of their community development initiatives. Through this dynamic exchange, local residents are viewed as intelligent people who can plan their own development, but lack the necessary financial and technical means to implement those plans. Therefore, through creative use of the College’s academic resources, and acting in a way that personifies doing with not for the community, Sojourner-Douglass College intends to help generate those necessary financial and technical means.

Dr. Simmons and Congressman Cummings congratulate Weatherization Graduate

Our approach begins with the premise that poverty is the root cause of most urban problems and a commitment to the radical belief that poverty can be eradicated. Therefore, we strongly support self-determination among residents who have the temerity to develop their own communities - without gentrification or the standard palliatives for poverty, e.g. programs and services that treat its symptoms but leave poverty largely intact - but authentic partnerships with residents, and strategies designed to address poverty’s root causes.

Currently, the College is modeling this transformational philosophy in the neighborhoods surrounding its East Baltimore campus known as Oldtown. In support of a Master Planning Process being conducted in Oldtown by the City’s Department of Planning, the College is leading a coalition of community stakeholders under the name Change4Real. Using a battery of economy appropriate workforce training, business incubation and old-fashioned community organizing strategies, their aim is to eradicate poverty over the next 15 years by creating a transformative neighborhood in Oldtown wherein existing residents can succeed in improving their own lives to meet their own expectations.

Weatherization Certificate

Sojourner-Douglass College and the other members of the Change4Real Coalition believe a community that will sustain for all its residents a satisfying level of economic development will reap many benefits beyond just social and financial. Those communities will become places of choice, capital will circulate many times inside the community, the people will enjoy genuine and meaningful connections to each other and the hopes and dreams of the residents can be realized through their own actions.

Given the growing interest in the causes and effects of poverty, the Coalition leaders promise to pursue these audacious objectives in an open and transparent fashion and with a rigorous tracking process to accurately measure the outcomes. We invite academics and others interested in social change to monitor this process.

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