Johns Hopkins is expanding its commitment to Baltimore on a number of fronts as the city faces "a time in need of new thinking and of urgent action," Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said Monday night at a gathering of community, political, and faith leaders in West Baltimore.
Daniels discussed efforts to support city schools, including new partnerships with Barclay Elementary/Middle School and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School, and the previously announced hiring of up to 300 Baltimore youth as part of the institution-wide summer jobs program. He pointed to Johns Hopkins' current ex-offender hiring program and work that is under way to develop more job training resources. He also previewed the roll-out of an expanded program to increase local hiring, purchasing, and contracting.
The university's efforts were in the works before the protests and unrest following the death of Freddie Gray and a subsequent increase in violence in the city. But those events intensified the push at Johns Hopkins, the state's largest private employer, to invest in the community, Daniels said.
"We have long understood how inextricably tied Hopkins is to the city we call home," Daniels said at the event, entitled "From Slogan to Strategy" and organized by the Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, or BUILD. "And so, I say tonight that we stand here today proudly and deeply committed to the promise of all of our fellow citizens."
Also see: Hopkins pledges to provide summer jobs to hundreds of Baltimore youth (The Baltimore Sun)
Daniels' complete remarks, as prepared for the event, are below:
"It is a great privilege to be here with all of you—to join together in marking a better future for the city we all love.
"I went a little out of my way to be with you tonight, not solely because of the persuasive powers of Bishop Miles, but because I couldn't imagine a more important or opportune moment to declare our deep and unwavering commitment to our fellow citizens and to the future they so richly deserve.
"Few of us will soon forget the unrest that erupted on April 27 or the arresting truths it laid bare. It was a night when communities across our city cried out—for recognition, for understanding and, ultimately, healing of the despair that has engulfed them. Despair that corrodes dignity. Despair that undermines purpose. Despair that is the enemy of our common humanity and that diminishes all of us.
"I am here tonight because I, and the community of Hopkins, want to register clearly and unequivocally, our firm determination that things in this city can change. That things must change.
"We want to see better schools and educational opportunities for our children. We want to see more jobs for men and women of working age. We want to see an end to the pervasive violence that plagues too many of our communities. We want to see our city become the embodiment of the best in our great country—its hope and optimism, its boundless opportunities, its dynamism, and not the opposite.
"This seems a lofty dream. And these are just words. But words lead to action, and action leads to change. As Lincoln declared, our cause is new, so we must think anew and act anew. Now is truly a time in need of new thinking and of urgent action.
"Johns Hopkins as a community feels this responsibility acutely. And although our record is not without blemish, we have long understood how inextricably tied Hopkins is to the city we call home. And so, I say tonight that we stand here today proudly and deeply committed to the promise of all of our fellow citizens.
"And, because I know this commitment must be rooted in action, I want to share some of what we're doing today.
"First, we are deepening our connections to Baltimore City schools. We have invested in and operate the Henderson Hopkins School—the first new school in East Baltimore in 20-plus years—and are now finalizing a partnership between our School of Engineering and Barclay Elementary/Middle School. This partnership will build a comprehensive science and engineering curriculum, with a focus on mechanical and electrical engineering and computer science, a state-of-the-art science lab, and technology capacity throughout the school.
"We are also in conversations with Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle, where a similar partnership will emphasize arts integration. And we are working with education, business and elected leaders to explore opportunities for bringing other innovative programs to our struggling high schools.
"We have and will continue to wholeheartedly support the expansion of the City's Summer Jobs Program. This month we increased our summer hires from 200 to 300 Baltimore youth, and are recruiting like-minded businesses to participate as well. And they are heeding our request in dramatic ways. This is not only about summer pocket money; it is about providing opportunities that could shift the trajectory of a child, and the future of this city's workforce.
"Because we know that the needs of this city are multi-generational, we are focused not only on creating a bright future for Baltimore's youth, but also on building better opportunities today for their parents and grandparents—including permanent employment.
"Our ex-offender hiring program offers the possibility of good jobs and a career path forward after prison. Our institutions hired more than 120 ex-offenders last year alone. Today, we're working with BUILD and other organizations to expand opportunities for returning citizens, not only at Johns Hopkins but with willing partners across the city.
"We are also considering the full inventory of our education and workforce programs with an eye on developing a more comprehensive program that would provide city residents with the necessary skills first for entry-level jobs and then for fulfilling career paths.
"Finally, we will soon launch a major expansion of our economic inclusion program, with firm and measurable commitments to increase local hiring and purchasing and contracting with local, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses. Called Hopkins Local, it is our promise to do more to leverage our hiring and purchasing power and create lasting economic opportunities here in Baltimore.
"None of these initiatives were born of this spring's unrest. But all have been intensified in some way —made broader, deeper, or faster—by the extraordinary urgency and opportunity of this moment. These programs, and the impact they aspire to have, will not come to fruition overnight.
"Our problems have been generations in the making, and our efforts to resolve them, even with the best of intentions, will take time. But we can start now. It takes a leap of faith for all of us to join hands in this moment, and work together in new ways for the sake of a just and shared future.
"l want to thank BUILD for its daring vision and determination in helping us start this process, renewing their conversations with Johns Hopkins and others in that spirit of trust.
"And I want to thank Bishop Miles, Michael Cryor, Archbishop Lori, Congressman Cummings, City Council President Young—and those essential and dedicated leaders who could not be with us tonight—for allowing us to work with them in this monumental endeavor.
"We come together tonight uniting policy and pulpit, preachers and presidents, because we know Baltimore's future depends on it. All of us who care about this city understand the challenges ahead. But we also see the possibilities of progress in this moment, at this critical moment, if we can stand firmly and resolutely as One Baltimore."