School Reform and Equal Opportunity Funding: BUILD chaired a pilot effort to restructure 14 schools – a move toward school-based management. BUILD called on Governor Schaefer, Mayor Schmoke, and other leaders to ensure all students an equal opportunity for high-quality education. The Child First campaign worked to protect APEX funding, a critical resource for additional funding for low-income districts.

Nehemiah: Residents moved into more than 300 Nehemiah homes in Penn North and Sandtown-Winchester.

Community Policing: Mayor Schmoke and Police Commissioner Ed Woods embraced community policing in response to BUILD. The Baltimore City Police Department implemented the strategy in five communities in collaboration with church and neighborhood leadership.

Privatization: BUILD challenged Mayor Schmoke’s privatization scheme as a dangerous quick-fix for school change.

The Beginning of the Living Wage: BUILD announced a campaign for a New Social Compact in Baltimore in June 1993. Citing the explosion of low-wage, no-benefit, temporary and seasonal employment, BUILD called for more full-time work with benefits and a living wage and demanded Mayor Schmoke cut off new subsidies to downtown employers until employers signed on with a plan for improving wages.

1994 -1997

Living Wage: With the signing of Living Wage legislation in 1994, BUILD and Baltimore began what has become a national and international movement. BUILD leaders decided to take on the issue of work and wages in 1992 and hired Jonathan Lange, an experienced labor and IAF organizer, to develop research actions and house meetings. The result: BUILD discovered that many of the people using social services offered by BUILD churches were low-wage workers in service jobs, and that many low-wage workers were employed by contractors doing business with the city. That led to BUILD’s demand that the city include “Living Wage” standards in all its service contracts. A living wage was defined as a wage that could bring a family of four above the poverty line. After a series of large actions with Mayor Schmoke and City Council President Mary Pat Clark, terms of a bill were negotiated and passed in 1994. BUILD continued the campaign, winning regulations protecting contract workers from discrimination for organizing activity, protecting them from contract changes, creating access to benefits, and developing the first worker-owned temporary employment agency in the country. Today, because of BUILD’s efforts, no politician can talk about jobs without using the term “living wage.”

Nehemiah: Twenty-eight families move into a third Nehemiah site in Cherry Hill in 1996.

Child First and the Child First Authority: Child First grew out of conversations with thousands of parents, youth, and educators during BUILD’s organizing campaign for the 1995 Mayoral Election. BUILD leaders heard many stories reinforcing that the time after school was the most dangerous for young people. In response, BUILD created the Child First Authority, with the underlying premise that if the state could create an authority to build stadiums, it could create an authority to help children. At the BUILD Convention for the 1995 Mayoral Election, attended by 1,000 BUILD members at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, both leading mayoral candidates, Mayor Schmoke and Council President Clarke, endorsed the Child First Authority. After his victory, Mayor Schmoke recommitted to Child First and Delegate Howard “Pete” Rawlings led the charge to create the Authority. Within six months after the election, the state passed legislation authorizing the Child First Authority. Since its inception, Child First has grown from seven to 13 schools, providing academic, cultural and recreational enrichment to more than a thousand students each year. During its history, Child First has leveraged $10 million for after-school programs and has become the leading recipient of city after-school funds. BUILD has organized parents to secure nearly $500,000 in state funding every year since 1998.

Nehemiah: The first 24 of 80 additional Nehemiah homes are rehabilitated in Sandtown-Winchester. BUILD Enterprise Partnership wins a HUD grant to build more than 300 new homes in Sandtown-Winchester in 1997.


Joseph Plan: In June 1998, BUILD held a 1,000-delegate convention to announce its platform for the gubernatorial election, including funding for parks and playgrounds, recovery programs, and after-school initiatives, and counting college as a welfare activity. During this time of economic prosperity, the signature piece of the agenda was the creation of a Joseph Plan which mandated setting aside a portion of state surplus funds to be used during times of fiscal crisis.

Increased Voter Turnout: During the 1998 election, BUILD’s non-partisan “Get Out the Vote” campaign increased voter turnout by 12 percent in BUILD precincts. Maryland Secretary of State John Willis recognized that this was the largest increase in voter turnout in almost 20 years. In 2002, BUILD maintained this level of voting.

College as a Welfare to Work Activity: BUILD, Governor Parris Glendening and the Department of Human Resources worked to have college count as a valid welfare option in Baltimore. The state selected Baltimore City Community College as a pilot site, keeping hundreds of mothers in college to pursue their degrees (many in nursing) and their dreams of moving in to meaningful work.

Drug Treatment on Demand: During the 1999 Mayoral race, BUILD led the charge to provide drug treatment on demand.

$75 Million for Baltimore: Working with Governor Glendening and other allies from 1998-2002, BUILD delivered an estimated $75 million to the city to fund school construction, Child First after-school programs, long-term drug treatment, Head Start, homeownership and the Joseph Fund. As part of this funding, Head Start received the first state funding ever, totaling $5.5 million, and a $10 million fund was created to develop playgrounds around the state, including five at Child First schools.

Payday Lending: BUILD worked with Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and other allies to ensure that lenders charged only 33 percent APR instead of the 300 to 600 percent rate they had been charging.

BUILD Fellowship: Affiliated with three BUILD congregations – Immaculate Conception Catholic, Union Baptist and Koinonia Baptist – BUILD Fellowship provided transitional living and recovery programs for people in drug rehabilitation and ex-offenders returning from prison. BUILD Fellowship continues today, assisting in the recovery of scores of men and women each year.

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