Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund dollars at work

My Sister's Place Women's Center provides meals, shelter, and services to homeless women and their children. However, the local organization was missing two important ingredients to fulfill its mission: a commercial-grade stove and a cook. The Incentive Mentoring Program uses a family-style approach to bolster underperforming high school students through tutoring and other support from Johns Hopkins students and community volunteers. Yet to expand the number of students it serves, IMP needed funds to provide college application assistance, one-on-one tutoring, SAT preparation, eviction prevention, employment support, and health care advocacy.

Two different sets of needs were met with the same solution: employee donations to the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund.

Since the fund's 2007 inception, 101 grants have been awarded to nonprofit organizations that provide services in education, employment, health, public safety, and neighborhood revitalization to communities that are in close proximity to Johns Hopkins campuses and are associated with Johns Hopkins through employee or institutional involvement.

Charlene Hayes, the university's vice president for human resources, says that "the JHNF not only illustrates our commitment as an institution to the city of Baltimore, but it demonstrates the generosity of our faculty and staff in support of community outreach efforts."

As a result of purchasing a commercial-grade stove and hiring a cook, My Sister's Place increased the number of meals served by 13 percent. In total, more than 80,000 meals were provided last year. The cook, who was previously homeless, stabilized her life thanks to the organization's services and is now able to give back.

Valerie Tarantino, director of My Sister's Place, says that without assistance from supporters such as the Johns Hopkins Neighborhood Fund, the organization could not provide its clients with warm and nutritious meals every day.

In FY13, the Incentive Mentoring Program worked with 127 high school students and more than 600 volunteers. IMP seniors from Dunbar High School improved their GPAs by an average of 12 percent from freshman year, and 100 percent of IMP students received a high school diploma and were accepted to college.

"We are deeply grateful for the support of the JHNF that has supported IMP's transition from a fledgling student group to a nationally recognized model of mentoring," says the organization's CEO, Sarah Hemminger, who founded IMP when she was a Johns Hopkins medical student.

Each year, 20 to 25 neighborhood grants are awarded. Based on a nonprofit's year-end reports, Johns Hopkins' Office of Work, Life and Engagement can determine if funds were spent as outlined in grant applications and evaluate their impact.

Donations to the JHNF are currently being collected through the Johns Hopkins United Way Campaign and can be made through Organizations wishing to receive grants in 2014 may apply in December.