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From Tragedy, A Renewed Commitment

Engaging Baltimore brings the tools and actions of public health to help the city.

Story by Jackie Powder • Photography by Ruchita Pillai

The death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray last spring cast a harsh light on Baltimore’s staggering inequities.

The aftermath has been a time of soul-searching for those who call the city home—including the Bloomberg School.

Dean Michael J. Klag, MD, MPH ’87, immediately challenged the School to do more. To that end, students, staff, faculty and community members gathered in May to discuss challenges and opportunities for public health in Baltimore.

Students resurrected the group SPARC, or Students for a Positive Academic Partnership with the East Baltimore Community, dedicated, in part, to addressing injustices in health. And the School partnered with the School of Nursing on a major expansion of the Student Outreach Resource Center (SOURCE) to involve more student, staff and faculty volunteers in community partnerships. In addition, the School launched Engaging Baltimore, an institution-wide effort to improve the city’s health and well-being.

“Every part of the School is stepping up to strengthen its commitment to the city,” says Joshua M. Sharfstein, MD, associate dean for Public Health Practice and Training. “There is a real sense of mission when it comes to Baltimore.”

Snapshot: Engaging Baltimore

  • Biostatistics will develop two projects to introduce city high school and university students to education and career opportunities in statistics.
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology students designed sex education courses for three youth-focused city groups.
  • The Office of the Administrative Dean will run workshops on information technology and career paths.
  • Mental Health is working with Baltimore City Public Schools, the health department and other city agencies to create more trauma-informed  organizations and services.
  • The chairs of Health, Behavior and Society and Health Policy and Management will award faculty grants—based on project proposals—for new community-based initiatives.
  • Environmental Health Sciences will expand its “Day at the Market” program to increase community partnerships that bring health information and resources to Baltimore

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Cornelius KruseBALTIMORE
In 1968, Johns Hopkins University and WJZ-TV jointly produced a local television program to encourage Baltimore residents to unite and solve pressing social problems. School faculty members Matthew Tayback and Cornelius Krusé (left) appeared in the first episode, “Rats. Rats? Rats!”
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