The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UM SSW) will lead the assessment and disseminate related research to benefit a new West Baltimore collaboration to empower Black and Latina women with life skills. wealth creation and entrepreneurship through funding from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
A $20 million commitment from JPMorgan Chase was announced Wednesday, Jan. 26 at Kirby Lane Park in Franklin Square, where a press conference celebrated funding for several opportunities for employed and resource-poor Black and Latina women in Baltimore .
Part of this $20 million commitment includes a $5 million grant and a three-year partnership with the Prioritizing our collaboration for women’s economic advancement (POWER) create a continuum of wealth creation and professional skills development programs for Black and Latino real estate developers in West Baltimore.
The POWER collaboration, led by the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), includes UM SSW, University of Maryland, Baltimore Community Engagement Center (UMB CEC), City of Baltimore, Black Women Build Baltimore, Byte Back, Baltimore- DC Building Trades and Baltimore Community Loan.
“This partnership will allow UM SSW to learn from the community what really works when it comes to workforce training opportunities for women interested in construction trades and training opportunities in course of employment, in addition to working with partners to support system reform that will work to remove barriers to wealth creation, including barriers to homeownership across the city,” said UM SSW Professor Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, LCSW-C, CEAP.
JPMorgan Chase’s AdvancingCities Annual Challenge awarded Baltimore a $5 million grant as one of five recipients of this year’s challenge. The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Washington, DC, is the lead agency for this collaboration.
“UMB will play a key role in terms of analyzing what is happening, that we are doing what we hope to achieve,” UMB President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, noted. “Hopefully this will be the start of even further development.”
POWER will encompass three leading accelerators to achieve its long-term goals: small business development incubator and accelerator programs, skills training in high-growth non-traditional occupational sectors such as construction trades, technology, affordable real estate development and through accessible programs. and appropriate funding and grants to develop affordable housing in West Baltimore accordingly, to fill the appraisal gap.
The UMB CEC, at 16 S. Poppleton St. will provide space for LEDC and other partners to provide small business development services.
The resources focus on the 21223 zip code, which includes several of the neighborhoods served directly by UMB through its community engagement efforts. These neighborhoods also include those eligible under UMB’s Live Near Your Work program, which helps UMB employees purchase homes to help revitalize the area.
“Many of the Center for Community Engagement programs include elements that help individuals graduate from high school, where they learn how to run a business, bookkeeping, etc.,” Jarrell said. “There’s a lot of activity at the community engagement center that’s very focused on West Baltimore.”
UM SSW worked with the project team to develop the evaluation plan and come up with metrics that will help the team measure success and obstacles along the way.
The evaluation team is led by Principal Investigator Frey, who is also Chair of the Financial Social Work Initiative (FSWI) and Executive Director of the Faculty of Behavioral Health and Wellbeing Lab (BHWell Lab)of which the FSWI is affiliated.
The team also includes co-investigators, Christine Callahan, PhD, LCSW-C, associate research professor for the FWSI and Jeffrey Anvari-Clark, MSW, MA, associate professor and UM SSW doctoral student, who worked with the collaborative to identify goals and measurable outcomes, including the logic model for the project. The team will also hire a full-time program manager for the grant.
By tapping into FWSI and the BHWell Lab, this team can provide valuable research to see what really works in a real-world application of housing equity and wealth creation.
“This project will generate important data and insights that will contribute to a better understanding of equitable approaches to neighborhood and real estate development,” Frey said.
There is a dire need in Baltimore to fund equitable opportunities for the 66% of Baltimore’s Black and Latino households who are deemed to be asset poor, and for the city’s 15,000 vacant homes that devalue neighborhoods, create opportunity of crime and are dangerous for firefighters and first responders who come in for service calls like this city tragically lived this week.
“How can we have the greatest impact and generate the most equitable growth possible in this region? This means a continued focus on expanding access to capital; increase access to affordable housing and home ownership; collaborating with businesses, policy makers and community organizations to create lasting change,” said Peter Scher, vice president of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Part of the initiative will help Black and Latino developers access flexible capital, including grants to fill the appraisal gap for vacant homes in West Baltimore neighborhoods.
JPMorgan Chase also announced a $2 million commitment to Parity Homes in Harlem Park, overlooking the stretch of US 40 considered the highway to nowhere. These funds will help Parity Homes create 200 new homeownership opportunities for low-income households and a building apprenticeship program. This initiative will help intensify community-centric development models and increase demand for homeownership opportunities in neighborhoods with an excessive concentration of vacant homes. The goal is to create pathways for existing residents and other social collectives to buy homes together, block by block, as a way to build community and build wealth.
This population has also been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Latino women, in particular, having the highest unemployment rate of any group in the United States at 20.1% in April 2020 .
“We know that Black and Latina women are often the glue that holds our families and communities together. If you want to learn how to do it in Baltimore, follow black and Latina women,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said. “They have been on the front lines, in the background of every line of this pandemic as caregivers, frontline workers, business owners, the people delivering food to their neighbors.”