"Where you see wrong or inequality or injustice, speak out, because this is your country. This is your democracy. Make it. Protect it. Pass it on". — Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)
The signature programs and strategic policy initiatives within our Justice Portfolio are designed to ensure equity and fairness in social, civic, economic, legal, and representational matters that influence media, civic participation, cultural norms, and social perception. Adopting a restorative and transformative lens in the implementation of social justice reforms designed to address socioeconomic inequality through the empowerment of those most impacted by poverty. Particular emphasis is placed upon criminal justice reform initiatives, juvenile diversion, and violence prevention programs.
The Justice Thurgood Marshall Center at P.S.103
The Judge AW Center’s Community Invested Violence Intervention Collaborative (C.I.V.I.C.) Baltimore Initiative will add value to The Justice Thurgood Marshall Center at P.S. 103 by bringing a blend of applied academic research, legal advocacy, intervention programming, and ethics training to the beloved community of West Baltimore, MD, in 2023. The C.I.V.I.C. Baltimore Initiative will enable us to address systemic challenges confronting the residents of West Baltimore such as structural and interpersonal violence, at-risks youth detention, the need for legal aid and advocacy, and the need for ethical leadership development education. Through a strategic partnership with the Beloved Community Services Corporation, Inc. of Union Baptist Church, the Judge AW Center has acquired use of this historic site in the heart of West Baltimore, MD, which will serve as the programmatic epicenter of our social impact efforts in the future.
As the lead occupant of this soon-to-be renovated 22K+ sq. ft. facility, the Center will enjoy approximately 5K sq. ft. of space covering two floors for the administration and operation of four signature programs: (1) The Legal Education & Advocacy Division (LEAD)—a legal support services and advocacy initiative to carry forward the legacy of Justice Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Mitchell by advancing the interpretation of law through a lens that emphasizes transformative justice and racial equity; (2) The Transformative Research & Applied Violence Intervention Lab (TRAVAIL) for the Study of Gun Violence, Trauma, and Transformative Justice—a translational research intervention program under the direction of Dr. Joseph B. Richardson, Jr. that uses rigorous interdisciplinary methods to inform the development of a holistic, evidence-based, public health approach to gun violence intervention programming; (3) The Life’s Blueprint Project (LBP)—a juvenile diversion and HIGH Y.I.E.L.D. (Youth Initiative to Empower Leadership Development) beloved community partnership for learning program that aims to operationalize the practice of restorative social justice by shifting the trajectory of at-risk, vulnerable, and resilient youth. Ultimately, the LBP will bridge persistent gaps in opportunity by encouraging, equipping, and empowering our youth, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. phrased it, “to achieve excellence in various fields of endeavor;” and (4) The Institute for Ethical Public Leadership & Accountability—an educational initiative to advance the development of ethical public leadership through the implementation of ethical guideposts, continuing education training, and the development of curricula designed to promote accountability among elected and appointed public officials.
Visit the P.S. 103 Website to Learn More and Make a Donation
The need for community reinvestment in West Baltimore is conspicuous. Baltimore is the most divested zip code in America. According to a 2018 article published in USA Today, “more than 2,100 homes, or 16.5 percent of all single family homes, in the 21217 zip code are unoccupied, well above the 2.5 percent share across the broader Baltimore metro area.” West Baltimore’s home vacancy rate is among the highest in the nation, and is one of the many socio-economic indicators cited in arguing for the reinvestment and revitalization of this historic and beloved Baltimore community. “Situated on the south side of Druid Hill Park in northwest Baltimore, the 21217 zip code covers the city's Reservoir Hill, Penn North, Druid Heights, Bolton Hill, and Upton neighborhoods. Far poorer than much of the surrounding metro area, more than one in three zip code residents live below the poverty line, compared to about one in 10 Baltimore metro area residents.” Furthermore, the article notes, “in the last five years, the area's population fell by 1.6 percent, even as the broader Baltimore metro area population grew by 3.1 percent.” By mapping the metrics that determine levels of upward social mobility, the Opportunity Atlas helps visualize which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty. The Atlas allows us to see where and for whom opportunity has been missing. According to the Atlas, the average annualized job growth rate from 2004 to 2013 was -11% in the 21217 zip code of West Baltimore, MD, where The Justice Thurgood Marshall Center at P.S. 103 is located.
These stark conditions describe the need and rational for why the Judge AW Center has partnered with key local stakeholders to facilitate our expansion to West Baltimore, where we will implement signature programs and strategic initiatives designed to revitalize and uplift the people of this community over the next decade and beyond. The aforementioned challenges cannot be successfully resolved without broad based support from community, city, and state level stakeholders. Therefore, the Judge AW Center has launched this collaborative initiative to elevate the civic values that will empower and transform Beloved Baltimore.