Weinberg Foundation Celebrates First "Library Project" Grand Openings

Sep 12, 2012, 02:00 ET from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Three new Baltimore City Public Schools libraries unveiled marking completion of initial phase of multi-year, $multi-million community partnership

BALTIMORE, Sept. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States, today celebrates the grand openings of the first three school libraries completely redesigned and renovated as part of the Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project. The official celebration will take place at one of those three schools, Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School:

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120912/DC72443 )

  • Wednesday, September 12, 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle School, 100 East Heath Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
  • Scheduled speakers include (remarks to begin at 9:30 a.m.):
    • Governor Martin O'Malley
    • Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown
    • Andres A. Alonso, Ed.D., Chief Executive Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools
    • Rachel Garbow Monroe, President, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

Through a multi-media presentation including live video, this event will showcase the transformed library spaces and simultaneous celebrations at all three schools: Thomas Johnson Elementary/Middle, Moravia Park Elementary, and Southwest Baltimore Charter School. Students, parents, faculty, and the community will be able to see the renovated spaces up close for the first time. The Weinberg Foundation will also announce the Baltimore City schools that will be selected for the second year of the Library Project.

"This is a milestone day for the Weinberg Foundation and its many partners," stated Rachel Garbow Monroe, Weinberg Foundation President. "The grand openings of these wonderful new spaces complete the first chapter of what the Weinberg Foundation hopes will be a long story of improved literacy and learning for Baltimore City Public Schools students. So much has happened in less than a year underscoring the broad support, financial and otherwise, that has been uniquely resourced through the Library Project."

This Weinberg Library Project involves 30 businesses, nonprofits, and government partners, working with Baltimore City Public Schools to design, build, equip, and staff new or renovated school libraries where existing public funding can be leveraged. As a result of the success of this initiative in just its first year, the Foundation recently increased its overall financial commitment to $5 million for a total of 12 new libraries over four years.

"I am pleased to join the Weinberg Foundation in celebrating the grand openings of three brand new libraries for Baltimore City Public Schools," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Maryland has become a national model for quality public education, but in order for us to build on the progress we've made, we must provide the next generation with the resources they need to compete and win in the new economy. Our children hold the future in their hands, and working together, we can ensure that they have the tools they need to mold and make a better world tomorrow."  

Each new library will feature new equipment, books, furniture, and technology including Nooks, computers, and the "Pratt Library Parents' Place" for parents and guardians to visit the library and share time with their child. The spaces have specially designed smaller areas within the overall space for group and private reading. A graphics package, including signage that welcomes students to the library in more than 50 languages, and murals that literally wrap from the floor to the ceiling are among the innovative design elements of the new libraries.

"City Schools is incredibly fortunate to have partners like the Weinberg Foundation – and the many other partners the Foundation assembled for the Library Project," said Dr. Andres A. Alonso, CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools. "The three new libraries that are opening today give us a very real example of the learning spaces and resources that all of our students should be able to access. On behalf of City Schools, I thank the Weinberg Foundation for its sustained commitment to the success of our students; in another year, we will have the opportunity to come together again to celebrate three more library openings. School by school, and with the support of our great partners, we'll bring Baltimore City Public Schools into the 21st century."

"These beautiful libraries send such a powerful message about the value of reading and conducting research – a particularly important message now, as literacy takes its prominent place across subject areas under new curriculum being implemented over the next two years," added Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, Chief Academic Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools. "And the incredible partnership that made these libraries possible sends an equally important and powerful message to our students: that the whole community cares about them and is working hard to provide them with the learning spaces they deserve." 

The renovated library spaces average approximately 2,000 square feet. The total costs of all construction and programmatic activities in each library averages out to $1,000,000 per library of which the Weinberg Foundation contributes an average of $330,000 (roughly a third) for combined capital and operating costs at each site. The balance of the funding is primarily in the form of federal (QZAB) and local (Baltimore City Public Schools) dollars. The Weinberg Foundation has also been able to leverage additional financial and in-kind contributions through its facilitation of the numerous community partners.

Please follow all Weinberg Library Project developments at www.baltimorelibraryproject.org and on Twitter at #libraryproject.

Baltimore Elementary and Middle School Library Project Partners:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation
Art with a Heart, Inc.
Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers
Baltimore City Public Schools
Baltimore Community Foundation
Baltimore Education Research Consortium
Baltimore Reads, Inc.
The Baltimore Sun Media Group
Barnes and Noble, Power Plant
Bogdan Computer Services, Inc.
CPS Gumpert
Diamond Book Distributors
Dyslexia Tutoring Program
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Fund for Educational Excellence
The Heart of America Foundation
Incite Creative
JRS Architects, Inc.
Kirk Designs
Maryland Food Bank
Maryland State Department of Education
Office of Governor Martin O'Malley
Office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Office of U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski
Office of U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Parks and People Foundation
United Way of Central Maryland
VPC Incorporated
Wells Fargo Banking Corporation

About The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, provides approximately $100 million in annual grants to nonprofits that provide direct services to economically disadvantaged people, primarily in the U.S. and Israel. Grants are focused on meeting basic needs and enhancing an individual's ability to meet those needs with emphasis on older adults, the Jewish community, and our hometown communities of Maryland, northeastern Pennsylvania, and Hawaii. The trustees, some of whom also serve as executive officers of the Foundation, are Alvin Awaya, Judge Ellen M. Heller, Robert T. Kelly, Jr., Barry I. Schloss, and Chairman of the Board Donn Weinberg. Rachel Monroe serves as the Weinberg Foundation's President. For more information please go to www.hjweinbergfoundation.org.

Media Contact: Craig Demchak, 443-738-1159

SOURCE The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation