Day of Civic Engagement 2016

Day of Civic Engagement 2016

#onebaltimore: Understanding and Addressing Inequality

April 5, 2016

During the Day of Civic Engagement, Middle and Upper School students will spend the morning at off-campus activities, including volunteer work and experiential courses. Then, students and chaperones will eat lunch and reflect on their morning activities. To conclude the day, all students will convene in the Athletic Center to hear from young Park alumni whose work serves the public interest.

Visiting Alumni

Sara Schapiro '99

Sara Schapiro '99 is the Senior Director of the League of Innovative Schools at Digital Promise, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and learning technology developers. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sara worked as a consultant for Pearson and the New Jersey Department of Education. Before those engagements, Sara led a portfolio of initiatives at The Fund for Public Schools, which manages the public-private partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. During graduate school, Sara worked at Chicago Public Schools in Alternative Programs and Student Transitions and was an Education Pioneers Fellow at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Sara received a master's in public policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and graduated with honors from Duke University with a B.A. in international and comparative area studies and Spanish literature.

Ryan Downer '00

Ryan Downer ’00 has been practicing civil rights law since 2009. He has advocated extensively for fair housing as an NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney working on Thompson v. HUD, a lawsuit which successfully challenged the federal government’s decades-long practice of exclusively siting public housing in the most segregated, economically depressed neighborhoods in Baltimore City. After graduating from The Park School with the class of 2000, Ryan attended Harvard, earning an A.B. in Government, and New York University School of Law for a J.D. He is now an associate at Relman, Dane & Colfax in D.C., where he litigates cases in federal trial and appellate courts, focusing on race and disability discrimination in housing, fair lending, and employment.

Nate Loewentheil '03

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Nate Loewentheil '03 currently works at the White House as a Senior Policy Advisor at the National Economic Council and leads the Administration’s work in Baltimore City. In early 2005, while in his sophomore year at Yale College, he helped found the Roosevelt Campus Network, a national progressive organization engaging college students in progressive politics, and later served from 2007 to 2009 as executive director. During his time there, he helped expand the organization from a college start-up to a robust national network with nearly 100 college chapters around the country. Nate is also a co-founder of the Millennial Action Project and previously sat on the Board of Directors of the New Leaders Council. Nate has written commentary in the The New York Times, Salon, Politico and The Democracy Journal, submitted testimony to Congress on Social Security, and published research on housing and climate change. He is the editor of a 2008 book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era.

Off-Campus Morning Activities

The Baer School

What they do: “For over 75 years the Baer school, a Baltimore City Public School, has served children with multiple disabilities from all over Baltimore city. Through the years, the Baer School has seen significant changes in its population. The children have become increasingly more dependent on medical technology, more medically fragile and economically deprived.

Many of the students come to us with severe multiple challenges including orthopedic disabilities, fragile health conditions, developmentally and mentally delayed as well as other health impairments. The children are enrolled as young as three and our older students ‘age-out’ or graduate at age twenty-one.”  

More info:

Baltimore Hunger Project

About the organization: “What happens to the children who receive daily school meals when they go home for the weekend? Baltimore Hunger Project seeks to bridge that gap between Friday afternoon and Monday mornings. We are dedicated to eliminating the growing problem of weekend childhood hunger.    

Every Friday, our volunteers take weekend provisions to local elementary schools who have families in crisis.

Our food packs are discretely slipped into children’s backpacks on Friday by their guidance counselor, so they can return to school Monday nourished and ready to learn!”  

More info here:

Ben Franklin High School

About the school: “Benjamin Franklin High School at Masonville Cove in Baltimore moved from one of the city’s lowest performing high schools to one of Baltimore’s top choice high schools between 2011 and 2015. From an early childhood education program for parenting teens to workforce development for community members, a network of over 75 partners customize responses to needs presented by students and families. Additionally, students clocked more than 17,000 service learning hours last school year and are credited with stopping the building of a waste incinerator near their campus through community organizing.”

More info: and

Boone Street Farm

About the farm: “Cheryl Carmona and Aliza Sollins started Boone Street Farm in Fall 2010, in the East Baltimore Midway neighborhood out of the simple desire to have a large space to grow fresh produce. The project quickly blossomed and Boone Street Farm became a space for children to play, neighbors to garden, fellow gardeners to cultivate, local artists to create art, neighbors to gather, and more!" More info here:

Civic Works Community Lot Team

Organization’s Mission: “The Community Lot Team transforms vacant and abandoned lots in Baltimore City into community gardens and green spaces. AmeriCorps members, community residents, local artists, and volunteer groups work together to create and maintain thriving community spaces.”  The Neighborhood Revitalization Club has also been working with them on a lot in the Barclay neighborhood. More info here:


About the organization: “Founded in 1982, Dayspring, Inc. is a private, non-profit education organization dedicated to providing educational programs and services that promote high academic achievement and positive developmental outcomes for children and youth.“ More info here:

GEDCO CARES – Food Pantry

Organization’s Mission: “GEDCO’s CARES serves families and individuals in crisis by connecting our clients with resources that enable movement towards self-sufficiency. These resources include food and emergency financial assistance services. CARES continues to be run by an extremely dedicated team, consisting of one full time and one part time employee, and over 100 volunteers. With the generous support and food donations made by GEDCO’s fifty-three Member Organizations, individuals, schools, corporations, government agencies, and community groups, GEDCO’s CARES served over 1500 households in 2012!”

More info here:

Hampstead Hill Academy

School’s Mission: “Hampstead Hill Academy is a neighborhood public charter school that exists to educate children living in both our attendance area and throughout Baltimore City. Our talented staff uses research-based curriculum to develop and implement rigorous lesson plans that continuously raise the academic bar for our students. Our whole school community is dedicated to working together to challenge our students to succeed in a fair, consistent, just and joyful learning environment.” More info here:

Hidden Harvest

Organization’s Mission: “The farm was started in 2010 on a half-acre lot in the center of Baltimore City. In 2013 they started planting on an adjacent lot for a total of 3/4-acre growing space. Hidden Harvest’s goal is to create a beautiful and bountiful space in which flowers, fruit, vegetables, insects, birds, and humans live harmoniously. They grow food, now including shiitake mushrooms, keep chickens and bees out of a desire to be more connected with the earth and the spaces around us, as well as to learn and to teach.” More info here:

Inequality Walk by Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau + Healthcare for the Homeless Visit

About the Speakers Bureau: “Baltimore’s Faces of Homelessness Speakers’ Bureau challenges the deeply entrenched indifference many community members feel towards homelessness and poverty by engaging them in dialogues led by the true experts, those who have experienced it firsthand.” More info here:

League for People with Disabilities

Organization’s Mission: “Founded in 1927, The League is a pivotal and pioneering agency committed to offering annually more than 2,000 individuals with multiple, physical, cognitive and neurological disabilities the opportunities to gain independence through a comprehensive continuum of vocational, rehabilitative, educational, medical, wellness and social services.” More info:

Living Classrooms – Patterson Park Cleanup

About the organization: “Founded in Baltimore in 1985, Living Classrooms Foundation has grown into an educational and economic force that combines one of the city's most cherished assets — its beautiful and historic harbor — with some of its most overlooked — the thousands of bright, ambitious children and young adults who are struggling to succeed against terrible odds. What began with one program in one city has grown into dozens of programs across a region that now encompasses Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland.” More info here:

Maryland Food Bank and Community Kitchen

Organization’s Mission: “Our mission is to lead the movement and nurture the belief that together we can improve the lives of Marylanders by ending hunger.” More info:

Murals of Baltimore Bus Tour with Street Artist (and Park alum) Nether

About Nether: “Nether is a Baltimore born/based street artist driven by vacant beautification, civil disobedience & tactical activism aimed at sparking dialogue on disdained urban issues. In a broken city, radical actions are needed to bring attention to ignored issues and tell forgotten histories. The pieces that you find around the city dignify and bring attention to ignored citizens and the forces that have brought the city to its shameful state. Nether sees his work as a force that solidifies people’s connections to locations in the city that define Baltimore. The quest is merely an attempt to reclaim and recycle the tragic landscape, bring out our city’s pride, and capture the beautiful chaos that is Baltimore.” More info here:

Paul’s Place

Organization’s Mission: Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood and the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth. More info here:

Real Food Farm

Organization’s Mission: “Food access is generally understood to describe the availability and accessibility of fresh food to maintain a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. At Real Food Farm, we strive to improve food access in Northeast Baltimore by focusing on three main concepts: pricing, proximity, and familiarity.” More info:

Rock Rose City Farm

Organization’s Mission: The founders of this group wanted to provide fresh produce to a food pantry in East Baltimore. They’ve provided thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables as a result of their work and the work of many volunteers.

Supporting Technology Access at a Partner School with Computers for Kids

About the school — St. Ignatius Loyola Academy: “Our program is specifically tailored to the intellectual, physical and spiritual development of middle school aged boys, building character and creating opportunities for our students to change the direction of their lives through education.” 

When you return to campus, meet with Sara Schapiro, Park Alum and Director of the League of Innovative Schools, which works on “improving outcomes for students and solving the challenges facing K-12 schools through learning technology and research.”

More info:

The C.A.R.E. Community Association – Neighborhood Cleanup

About the organization: “C.A.R.E. Community Association, Inc. is a resident led 501(c)3 non-profit community organization located in East Baltimore. Our boundaries are from N. Washington Street to Patterson Park Ave. and Fayette Street to McElderry Street. . . The acronym "C.A.R.E." stands for Cleaning, Active, Restoring, Efforts. In 2004, residents started this community association for the preservation, protection, growth, and general well-being of the community and it’s members, establishing the best possible living conditions, and joining with other forces in a combined and cooperative effort to positively and effectively solve area problems.” More info:

Toxic Tour + Housing Law and Discrimination in Baltimore

About the Toxic Tour: Glenn Ross, an environmentalist and community activist who “has devoted his life to bringing awareness and change to the City and world around him,” will lead you on a bus tour of environmental hazards in inner city Baltimore, which raises questions of “environmental racism.”

More info here:

About the Housing Law and Discrimination Course: Ryan Downer, a Park alum and a Civil Rights attorney, will share his work on the Thompson v. HUD case, which “sought to eradicate the legacy of racially segregated public housing in Baltimore.” More info about Ryan here and more about the case here. 

Voter Turnout Support with BUILD

Organization’s Mission:  “BUILD — Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development — is a broad-based, non-partisan, interfaith, multiracial community power organization rooted in Baltimore’s neighborhoods and congregations. BUILD is dedicated to making our city a better place for all Baltimoreans to live and thrive. For more than 35 years, BUILD has worked to improve housing, increase job opportunities, and rebuild schools and neighborhoods, among other issues. We are affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, a coalition of like-minded organizations in cities across the United States.” More info here:

Westside Elementary School

School’s Mission: “To provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences that teach students to problem solve, think critically, listen, communicate, access and process information effectively and make responsible choices for themselves and their community; where Faculty and Staff create a learning environment that ensures that students demonstrate effective effort and are college and career ready, in order to compete in a global economy.”  More info here: 

Whitelock Community Farm

Organization’s Mission: “The goals of the Farm are to: pursue affordable sustainable fresh food sources, provide neighborhood job creation, and help revitalize the neighborhood through greening and positive community activity. The farm also implements its mission through farm-based learning programs such as gardening and cooking classes for children and adults. We believe that everyone has a right to affordable, healthy, quality food accessed in a way that is environmentally sustainable and socially just.” More info:

Wolfe Street Academy

School’s Mission: “Wolfe Street Academy is a community school operated by the Baltimore Curriculum Project that serves students and their families in the Upper Fells Point neighborhood. Our school serves over 200 students from Pre-K to 5th grade on a site that has housed a succession of public schools since 1852. The buildings have changed but these schools have always served the most recent immigrant population who seek new and better lives in Baltimore. Over 76% of our students speak a language other than English at home and 96% of our students come from low-income households.” More info here:  


Organization’s Mission: “YES Drop-In Center is Baltimore City’s first and only drop-in center for homeless youth. YES Drop-In Center is a safe space for youth who are homeless and between the ages of 14-25, to get basic needs met and establish supportive relationships with peer staff and allies that allow them to make and sustain connections to long-term resources and opportunities.” More info here: