On March 29th, the Urban Health Institute (UHI) held the inaugural Baltimore Grantee Showcase. A showcase video (click here to watch) featuring grant recipients dating back to 2007, set the tone for the virtual event as attendees for the first time had a chance to see visuals of the work being done across Baltimore at the hand of community-government-university partnerships. Panelists, consisting of individuals representing faith & community-based organizations, Baltimore City agencies, and Hopkins, discussed the impact UHI funding has had on their communities and highlighted the benefits of collaborative multi-sector partnerships.
“So far, we’ve funded projects and programs doing amazing community work throughout the city of Baltimore. Community and academic partnerships offer unique opportunities to draw from the respective strengths and expertise of academic institutions and community members. We are thrilled to support initiatives that enhance the well-being of our communities and create a more equitable Baltimore”, expressed Dr. Lisa Cooper, Director of the UHI.
One of these grants was put towards a project partnering with African American faith leaders to assess COVID-19 concerns and develop a novel education curriculum. UHI associate director, Dr. Tanjala Purnell, shared why working alongside faith leaders was important to her and a crucial part of this collaboration
“We know what trusted agents faith leaders are in the community and these are people who are just doing it well and on their own. I thought it would be so wonderful if we could partner together with Pastors Michael and Phyllis Addison to both further assess some of the educational needs and tangible needs, but to also share best practices with other faith leaders.”
During the Faith-based Partnerships panel, moderated by Dr. Purnell, panelists explained how equality in the collaboration process, accountability of all parties involved in a project, and listening to the needs of a community are needed in order to develop fruitful and tangible results. Pastor Phyllis Addison emphasized that, “The church is the source of all information,” and this highlights the true impact that faith-based partnerships can have.
The Government Partnerships panel explored the collaborative work of Baltimore City government/agencies and Johns Hopkins University. Panelists talked about what they were able to accomplish in Baltimore with UHI funding. Stacey Tuck, director of Maternal and Infant Care Systems Operations at B’more for Healthy Babies, an initiative aimed at reducing infant mortality in Baltimore, shared that she applied for a UHI grant to create a community advisory board to represent different people from around the city.
“This grant opportunity has deepened a relationship that had already been established[…] We have been able to hone in on the importance of community and during these panels today, we have said the word relationship about a hundred times. It really is the crux of the story.”
Panelists also stressed the importance of maintaining long-term relationships and developing sustainable initiatives. Stacey Tuck noted that, “You need to finish what you start,” and that expanding partnerships and using the results from one grant to apply and secure another can help ensure longevity of successful projects.
Many of the panelists advised prospective grantees to prioritize building relationships and listening to community members, welcome cross-collaboration among different entities, understand the importance of sustainability and diversity in partners, and recognize that you can always find common ground when working with others.
Pastor Marshall Prentice summed up the key qualities of a successful partnership with,“...Relationships flow through power and power flows through relationships… The partnership was really a partnership based on us listening to each other and respecting each other.”