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Critical Issues in School Reform


S T O R I E S  O F  P U B L I C  E N G A G E M E N T
Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (B.U.I.L.D.)
with Activities and Resources

I. About the Program | II. On-Line Activities | III. Viewer Activities | IV. Resources

Over the past several years, researchers have begun to notice a fundamental shift in the actions of Americans on behalf of their children and their public schools. The collaborative constituencies that come from the efforts of educators, parents, and the public working together for change and improvement in schools are part of the movement called public engagement. These purposeful efforts can start in the school, the district, or the community.

The story of B.U.I.L.D. and the issues that it raises will be useful for administrators, board of education members, teachers, parents, and community members - anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of public engagement and the positive benefits that can result when communities come together to work on behalf of children and their future.

This video can be used to:

  • Provide an example of a community in which public engagement has been successfully used to develop and implement innovative programs and strong community relationships for education change.
  • Help viewers understand the roles of parents, teachers, and community members in a collaborative process in which the confidence and leadership of all people, many new to the process of education and engagement, are key components of program success.
  • Discuss the multiple constituents involved in a community, and the roles and responsibilities that each must assume in a community-based public engagement effort.

Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development exemplifies the effective use of public engagement at the community level. The video profiles the powerful collaboration among parents, families, and a network of community organizations in Baltimore, Maryland, to create an infrastructure for community improvement and student achievement. The story of B.U.I.L.D. is followed by discussions among two parents, an administrator, and a teacher and among a group of experienced public engagement practitioners.

B.U.I.L.D. grew out of the commitments by parents, families, and community organizations in Baltimore, Maryland, to create a partnership around the issues of security for children, their education, and the academic and physical challenges facing a large urban school district. It is one of the largest predominantly African American local community organizations in the country, with a membership drawn mainly from religious congregations. Over its twenty-year history, it has championed community involvement in education and pioneered large-scale initiatives for change.

In 1995 B.U.I.L.D. helped create the Child First Authority in response to parents' concerns about education and their stated need for after-school activities for their children. Child First, which is funded through contributions from organizations that receive city subsidies, now has after-school centers in eight schools, with plans to expand to more schools in the coming years. Parents coordinate and teach in the programs, in cooperation with each school's faculty. Parents working together at Child First centers are now able to mobilize around emerging issues facing their children and their schools. Child First's organizing strategy reflects B.U.I.L.D.'s affiliation with the Industrial Areas Foundation, a national network of community advocacy groups.


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