Circle Forum - Baltimore Corps

Thursday, June 23, 2016 | bwgc

Fagan Harris, Co-Founder, Jake Weinfeld, 2016 Fellow, Leandra Pauley, 2016 Fellow and Christine Sellers, Head of Development

What better reflection of a successful program is there than a request for more? 

Following the enthusiastic response to his presentation at December’s Full Circle Meeting, Fagan Harris, Co-founder and CEO of Baltimore Corps, and three of his team met with nearly 50 BWGC members at Church of the Redeemer on April 27, for Circle Forum. After being introduced by Christine Sellers, Head of Development and Fagan’s self-described “right arm,” Fagan explained the history and mission of Baltimore Corps and the selection process and placement of the 34 talented Fellows. 

Fagan and his friend, Wes Moore, co-founded Baltimore Corps in 2013, with the goal of connecting dynamic Millennials - capable leaders and critical thinkers - with partner organizations that are tackling the city's biggest challenges. Widely diverse in their educational and social backgrounds, race and ethnicity, and previous work experiences, they all share strong visions and a passion for social impact and for Baltimore. 

Each Fellow has the opportunity to work closely with Baltimore's most effective leaders of social change. These partner organizations, also selected from many applicants - nonprofit organizations, for-profit social enterprises and government agencies - host a Baltimore Corps Fellow for a minimum of one year. A Fellow's professional and personal growth derives not only from outstanding work experience, but also through retreats, personalized coaching, community dinners and 360º feedback. The first year Baltimore Corps Fellowship had ten Fellows. Now in its second year, there are 34, who are placed in 20 different organizations among them are the Baltimore City Health Department, the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Family League of Baltimore, Green Street Academy and MERIT.

Two Fellows Leandra Pauley and Jake Weinfeld discussed their respective programs.

Leandra, Program Director for Play More B’more and also on Fagan’s staff, described the eagerness of the youth in Sandtown-Winchester to gain employment skills and be involved in the improvement of their community. Last year, when the City recognized an urgent need for playgrounds in three vulnerable west side neighborhoods, they called upon Play More B-more, a Baltimore Corps partnership that trains 15-18 year olds to lead recreation programs for younger children. More than 30 teen employees created, within only weeks, playgrounds in Sandtown-Winchester, Park Heights and Upton. 

Jake, after three years as a Professional Leadership Development Saturday session teacher with MERIT Baltimore (Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens), last summer, armed with a new M.Ed degree, became a Fellow and joined MERIT full time as their Strategic Growth Director. He explained his agency’s program, one that identifies 10th grade students from the inner city, who are interested in a career in health, and how MERIT mentors and supports them through high school, college and, for some, even through applications to medical school. Noteworthy is that during their years as MERIT scholars, the students’ average high school GPA has risen to 3.3, SAT’s have improved by 336 points and 100% of them have been accepted to a 4-year college. 

The program concluded with a lengthy and lively Q and A.