BFA leverages the voices of city families to push for good schools, safe streets, and great neighborhoods.
Supporting families and their needs in Baltimore would be extremely difficult without excellent public schools. BFA's advocacy focuses heavily on supporting Baltimore’s public schools and the 10-year school facilities plan. BFA’s goal is to increase middle-income families attending public schools. Our organization works toward better BCPSS for all children in several ways. BFA was a founding member of the Baltimore Education Coalition (BEC), and remains an active participant.
In March 2014, BFA supported the BEC in hosting a gubernatorial forum that was well attended by the public and covered by the press. DBFA received recognition for helping to provide childcare for the event. Additionally, BFA published an editorial in the Baltimore Sun concerning selection of new City Schools CEO. BFA also focuses on promoting public schools through our Annual School and Children’s Programming Fair, and a yearly town hall-style meeting with CEO of City Schools.
In addition, we indirectly market schools by using them as venues for various parenting seminars. BFA is able to leverage the investment into our organization, as it flows into multiple schools in Baltimore City through our human capital: involved parents. Over the summer of 2014, BFA hosted several neighborhood listening sessions in conjunction with The Fund for Educational Excellence in an effort to gather input from Baltimore’s citizens and inform the new Baltimore City Schools CEO on what parents/community members are looking for from City Schools. Also, we continue to maintain and deepen our relationship with the BCPS Engagement Office.
BFA has been instrumental in bridging the communication gap between city parents and the administration of City Schools. As communication between the two parties increases, BFA anticipates increased parental involvement in schools and better processes and enrollment numbers for City Schools.
Research has shown that when middle-income children attend the same schools as children from lower socioeconomic groups, low-income children perform much better, and the middle-income kids do no worse than if they were in a school with a majority of middle-income children. As BFA is able to retain families in the city, we expect to see the trend toward better education and rising enrollment rates in public schools continue.
Based on research BFA conducted early in its organizational history, one of the primary reasons people choose to live in the city is to enjoy an urban walking lifestyle where one can do errands and enjoy amenities without getting in a car (“walkability”), as well as access to well-maintained, public green spaces. BFA strives to preserve and increase Baltimore’s urban green spaces, and to continually improve our community as a more pedestrian-friendly, walkable place. These environmental features enhance the quality of city living for our children and for all residents. BFA has been involved in such initiatives as the development of Pierce’s Park on Pier V in the Inner Harbor. Our organization has also initiated a “playground crawl” to increase family use of Baltimore City’s park and playground resources and to build awareness of the various programming options available at many city parks.
BFA spearheads a number of initiatives to support and protect sustainable transit and walkability. In 2015 we successfully worked with Baltimore leadership to preserve one of the most popular lines on the Charm City Circulator, which had been jeopardized by budget cuts. In 2013 we led a letter-writing campaign to Governor O’Malley urging him to include funding to support the Inner Harbor 2.0 Project in the budget. One of the key aspects of the proposed redesign is the redevelopment of Rash Field into a world-class green space and park with playgrounds, event spaces, and other family-oriented amenities.
Navigating parenthood, family commitments, and maintaining some semblance of a social life requires a rock solid support network of friends and fellow parents. BFA connects families across Baltimore with one another to foster lasting friendships and meaningful community ties. DBFA hosts family-connection events, as well as various parenting seminars geared toward parents and the challenges they face raising a family in the city. These events provide a venue for parents to learn from each other and build a “village” for their children. In addition, our organization has set the stage for many other organizations and corporations to expand their slate of family-friendly events. Parents from all over the city attend these events with their children and connect with other city-loving families.