NINA KRAUSS | FUSION PARTNERSHIPS, INC. - WEEK 2
This is a completely genuine offer: if you (or someone you know) are (is) interested in interning this summer for an international throat singing project, I can put you in contact with someone who could use your help.
I am tempted to throw this information out there without any further explanation… but I will elaborate.
This week, Fusion held one of their quarterly potluck dinners where representatives from partner programs get together to discuss their successes and struggles and exchange ideas and services. The venue was the 2640 Space, a noncommercial, cooperatively-managed venture (and Fusion partner.) After filling plates with everything from kale to pizza, the community gathered in a sizeable circle of folding chairs. The meeting was opened by a welcome statement from Polly, one of Fusion’s Managing Partners, followed by member of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance sharing a tool for creating safe spaces by demonstrating how to incorporate preferred pronouns into introductions. A microphone was passed around the room, and everyone was given a chance to introduce themselves and give an “elevator pitch” about the programs they were representing. The floor was then opened for announcements of upcoming events and projects as well as for potential ideas for future workshops. Now aware of the focus areas of other members of the group, everyone was set free to connect with each other. Groups formed to discuss topics that had been mentioned in the main meeting: collecting stories from incarcerated individuals, organizing a joint woodworking event, feeling frustrated with applying for grants from predominantly white organizations, and so on.
As someone with shallow Baltimore roots, I was not expecting to contribute much to these conversations except a pair of fresh ears. Still, I had been introduced as a CIIP intern and therefore was able to field questions about our program. This is how I found myself in a conversation about finding an intern for a throat singing project, so again, if you know someone who wants something meaningful to do this summer and has an interest in preserving & connecting cultures through a particular musical art, there may be an open opportunity for them.
VICTORIA LI | BALTIMORE CORPS - WEEK 2
I kicked off the week by reviewing internal feedback surveys and summarizing them for my supervisor. That first task allowed me to glimpse into the culture of Baltimore Corps as well as the way that they receive and handle feedback – both of which integral parts of an organization. Later in the week I began a research project about the best practices for onboarding new employees. In addition to working on my project I sat in on different meetings throughout the week. One of the meetings consisted of an entire department coming together and digesting the newly-set strategic objectives, goals and strategic plan of the organization, and how it relates to that department. This meeting was particularly striking because I had never had to sit down and examine an organization’s mission statement and its values, and how they manifest in the every-day operations of an organization before. The insights of my colleagues who have seen a continuous refining of the strategic plan over the years astounded me. I am beginning to learn how to critically read and think about the big-picture trajectory of a successful but young non-profit. Another meeting that I sat in on was a practice pitch session for potential awardees of the Elevation Awards, a Baltimore Corps program which provides aspiring social entrepreneurs with grants of up to $10,000. The meeting had an end goal of perfecting and condensing the presentation of the awardees and helping them to present their ideas more concisely. Simply watching Baltimore Corps’ staff work with community members and begin the process of transforming their individual fledging ideas into full-blown projects was quite inspiring. Also, someone brought their kid to work – that was pretty cool too.
DANIELA PEREZ-ROLDAN | STRONG CITY BALTIMORE, HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOOD - WEEK 2
I love getting to know new people! This past week has been all about getting to know leaders of the communities of Remington and Edno-Gardens and its been nothing but great.
Growing up in a suburban town, I have never seen anyone really super passionate about getting involved in their neighborhoods and making sure change happens. Yes, my neighbors have their concerns and worries, yet they never take the time to actually actively resolve their problems with the community.
In the two neighborhoods that I am working in , this is a completely different story. I have been talking to people in Remington who have a world of ideas for their community lot that they currently manage under "Adopt-a-lot". When the community member first became interested intros lot, it was nothing but a patch of land where grass was not even growing. Today, they have grass planted over the entire lot, about 10-12 garden plots owned my community members, and a children's play area, but thee is still a lot of work to be done. Because it is only an adopt-a-lot and not owned my the community, the people of Remington face many challenges when it comes to the design process since nothing can be permanent. It has been a hindrance to the vision they have for the lot, but this hasn't stopped certain member of the community. As of right now, they have changed the materials that will be used for the design, but the entire layout remains the same. They plan on working with a the city to come up with a way to have ownership of the lot, so it can become a permanent space where neighbors can come to relax and build a community.
SIMONE ROBBENNOLT | INVESTED IMPACT - WEEK 2
This week was definitely less about orienting myself to my placement site, and more about getting down to business. I attended my weekly communications meeting and discussed the two blog posts that I am currently writing for Invested Impact. I just finished up a piece on why as an industry we need to stop labeling the lack of impact investing as a missed opportunity, but as a wasted financial impact. I am currently doing research on how and why we need to get black women founders more funding, and I will hopefully finish writing that post for next week.
I have learned so much about impact investing in the past two weeks, and I am learning more everyday. The fact that my placement site trusts me enough to start creating content for them to produce gives me confidence in the work I am doing. Before I started at my internship I was slightly nervous that I would not feel comfortable enough to ask questions. Thankfully, my supervisor and I have very open communication so I am constantly asking her questions. Earlier in the week I felt like I did not have enough work to do, but I just vocalized my concern with my supervisor and she helped create more tasks for me to do throughout the week. Week 2 has given me some insight as to what hopefully the rest of the summer will be like: educational and productive.
CELINE SHANOSKY | CENTRAL BALTIMORE PARTNERSHIP - WEEK 2
On Tuesday, I power walked across Hopkins campus to the fellowships office for my 12:30 pm appointment. I was inquiring about the Truman Scholarship, a program that offers students with an interest in public service $30,000 towards their graduate degrees. I was so excited: I felt my interest in affordable housing, urban planning, the nonprofit sector, and law school all coming together.
No more than ten minutes later, I left the fellowships office. I am not qualified for the Truman Scholarship. The adviser succinctly told me that I could have been nominated, except for one thing: my English major.
“Your course work doesn’t reflect your interest in Public Service,” she said. “You’re spending a year abroad at Oxford. You say you’re interested in affordable housing, but your transcript says Victorian literature and Shakespeare.”
I was devastated. I tried to respond that I was a double major in Public Health, and that my interest in affordable housing stemmed directly from that coursework. But as I began to explain, I choked up. I thanked her and quickly excused myself.
I tried to suppress this experience, but was reminded a few days later when my supervisor at Central Baltimore Partnership brought up study abroad. She excitedly asked what I would be studying at Oxford, and I gave her my rehearsed response:
“English. I realize that I’m never going to be able to study or use English again, so I thought, might as well spend a year on it now.”
That line usually gets a laugh, or a nod of approval, from my Hopkins peers. But my supervisor reacted with surprise. “What? So many of my friends were English majors, and they’re doing great. Have you considered grant writing after college?”
I was taken aback, then embarrassed. Studying abroad at Oxford is an achievement that I hold very dear to my heart, and here I was downplaying it into something that I “might as well” do. Even worse, my supervisor was excited for me, and I had dismissed her.
That conversation with my supervisor allowed me to reflect on my appointment with the fellowships office. Of course I was upset – it was shocking, and hurtful, to hear that an achievement I was so proud of made me a bad candidate for a scholarship. But then I thought of the work I do for Central Baltimore Partnership: editing chapters of a new development plan, writing grant application summaries, revising the newsletter. Next week, I start drafting a grant application for several hundred thousand dollars. These tasks are relevant to my interest in public service AND a direct application of the skills I developed through my English major.
My goal for the summer is to stop downplaying the things I love. I can’t blame other people for discrediting my English major if I discredit it myself. So here’s my pledge: I will be articulate about my interests, and how they apply to my future career. I might even reschedule that fellowships appointment.
DELLA XU | IMPACT HUB - WEEK 2
“Offer what you can. Ask for what you need. Take care of the wellbeing of the group. Breathe” says a sticky note in my supervisors’ office.
After the initial excitement of the first week, I settled down into the day-to-day work pace and gradually transitioned to familiarity. While last week consisted of many introductions and driving around the city to meetings, this week allowed me to dig into the details of Impact Hub’s business model and figure out my roles in supporting the organization and the members. Examining and editing our member profiles, mission statements, handbooks, and terms and conditions, I am starting to learn the nuances of running a collaborative non-profit—from technology platforms and software operations, to membership development and management, to how to make mission-driven decisions. The more I learn and investigate, the more areas there are for updating and improvement, whether it’s creating a better event request, planning, execution, and documentation process, or creating well-designed print materials to better explain our membership plans and values.
I’ve also been able to interact with more members in the workplace, including the all-knowledgeable community leads who sit at the front desk, passionate part-time entrepreneurs, or dedicated full-time office workers. One of the community leads told me about her budding career as a poet, and her desire to collaborate with other artists to create a literature and dance showcase. When I asked if she was a student, she hesitated a little and answered “I’m kinda in between things, thinking of transferring”. I didn’t inquire further and as our conversation went on, she mentioned that she had a 2-year-old daughter, which she had at my age. “I really want to start coming in more and meeting more people so I can get people on board with my projects”, she says as she gazes beyond me, “I really just want to realize what I am supposed to do, you know?” At that moment, despite our differences, I did know.
As with any office space, creativity and collaboration spark but conflicts also arise. On Tuesday, a man working in one of the open spaces made rude comments to a mother who brought her children in to examine the redlining exhibit. Things escalated, and the mother started yelling at him for being “a white man who dares to be condescending to a woman of color who can’t find a babysitter for her kids”. During a staff meeting the next day, the incident was discussed, and everyone strongly agreed that the man violated our community agreements. In response to his organization requesting for a rental exception, one of the staff members remarked “I don’t think any amount of money is worth comprising our sense of safety and comfort in the community”, and the rental opportunity was decided to be given to two women entrepreneurs at a highly discounted price. While not the best immediate business decision, the decision shows the values that drive this operation—an inclusive community, supporting minority and women workers, taking care of the wellbeing of everyone, and investing in passion and potential.