Leaders announce $290,000 grant for city schools

Posted at 6:59 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 20:10:00-05

When students from Matthew Henson Elementary arrive each morning, they walk past a memorial to a man murdered in a shooting directly next to the school.

Balloons and stuffed animals fixed to a poll with notes from well-wishers scribbled in sharpie sit perched above candles whose wax melted to the sidewalk mark the spot where the man was shot Dec. 28.

What's more, the man is a graduate of the school, said community activist Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Matthew A. Henson Community Development Corporation.

"While we had the riots, we say look at us again because we're still suffering," he said.

It's that basis that community leaders and elected officials came together at the school to talk about the money they believe will help. A $290,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Project SERV -- a grant created specifically to help kids who suffer traumatic events -- will help kids deal with the unrest they say last spring.

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Baltimore City schools will use the money to hire additional social workers and psychiatrists at some schools, and move positions to full-time status at others.

Teachers will undergo professional development to help them learn how to help students cope.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin said he met with community leaders from the Sandtown-Winchester area to discuss ways to help communities affected by the unrest, as well as how to address systemic issues of poverty.

He said he also spoke with President Barack Obama.

"If Dr. Martin Luther King were here today, he would be pleased we are here at Henson Elementary for these federal funded coming in," Cardin said, speaking to during an official announcement of the funds.

U.S. Rep Elijah Cummings echoed Cardin's sentiment.

"We're trying to create for our children normalcy," Cummings said. 

Though everyone welcomed the money, Cheatham said the work isn't finished.

"We're saying to these people running for council and mayor come help us because we've been neglected.  To our state officials in annapolis put in some bills to help us in this," Cheatham said.