When first launching BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore, we took a close look at the needs of current partnerships as well as the roadblocks preventing other successful relationships from being cultivated. One item that consistently surfaced was transportation. Whether it’s transporting Towson University faculty, staff, and students to work with partners off-campus, or transporting partner affiliates to TU, transportation was definitely a problem. Faculty, staff, and students often had to piece together small bits of funding to support transportation needs, consuming a great deal of time and effort on their part.
In June 2017, as the fiscal year came to an end, we sought opportunities to alleviate, if not completely resolve, transportation barriers related to partnerships. In collaboration with the Office of Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility and the Division of Administration and Finance, we requested and received funding to support transportation needs for FY18 (July 1, 2017–June 30, 2018). BTU Transportation Funding was allocated to support transportation related expenses—car, van, and bus rentals, as well as mileage reimbursement and campus parking codes—and to increase partnership engagement.
Transportation Funding Increases Partnership Engagement
Now that FY18 has come to a close, we are reflecting on the impact transportation funding has made to projects and programs throughout Greater Baltimore. Here are a few facts:
- A total of 44 transportation requests were received, supporting 29 different projects and programs
- 1,148 Towson University faculty, staff, and students were transported off-campus to engage with partners
- 1,489 partner affiliates were transported to campus or elsewhere to engage with TU faculty, staff, and students
Many of the projects and programs supported would not have been able to take place without transportation funding. Below are highlights about specific efforts that transportation funding supported.
Towson Theatre Infusion
Towson Theatre Infusion (TTI) creates interactions between Baltimore area middle and high school students and Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts. Undergraduate theatre majors are trained as Teaching Artists and work in area high schools to engage those students in the art and craft of theatre, preparing them to see a fully mounted production at TU’s Center for the Arts. TTI enhances the skills of undergraduate theatre majors, making them more competitive and viable in the professional theatre, while providing a valuable arts-integration experience for local high schools and introducing those students to Towson University, the College of Fine Arts and Communications, and careers in the arts.
During the 2017–2018 academic year, eight Baltimore area schools participated in Towson Theatre Infusion.
Towson University Model United Nations
The TU-Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) Model UN conference is a 16-year-old program that aligns with TU’s mission of preparing undergraduates for local and global citizenship, leadership, and academic excellence. The program provides equal access to civic engagement learning experiences for students in Baltimore County Public Schools while providing Towson University students with hands-on opportunities mentoring high school students.
Model UN is an educational simulation, in which high school students learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. Through the innovative approach used by TU and BCPS, Model UN is offered at no cost to participating students. The programming compliments BCPS’ curriculum and increases college access and civic readiness. It also provides Towson University students with an opportunity to be active participants in the Greater Baltimore community.
Since 2002, Model UN has reached over 25 schools in four school districts and has provided a cost-effective program to over 3,000 students. During the 2017-2018 academic year, over 300 BCPS students from 20 schools participated, working alongside 28 TU students. Model UN may sound familiar, as it was a recipient of the 2018 BTU Partnership Award.
Youth Artists and Allies Taking Action in Society
Youth Artists and Allies Taking Action in Society (YAAAS!) is a three-way partnership between Towson University, the BCCC Refugee Youth Project (RYP) and Patterson High School, a Baltimore City school in southeast Baltimore with a significant immigrant and refugee population. The RYP program was established in 2003 to offer after school tutoring and enrichment for refugee youth at several Baltimore City and County schools including Patterson. In addition to homework support, RYP focuses on English acquisition and helping students adapt to American culture. For the YAAAS pilot that took place in fall 2017, TU graduate students and refugee students worked side by side as collaborators, providing on-the-ground experience and empathy building.
Last year, 11 TU students worked with 14 refugee students for a total of approximately 30 hours of contact time.
Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program
The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program provides unique opportunities to bring together Towson University students and incarcerated students inside a correctional institution to learn together as peers. Participants read a variety of texts and write reflective papers; during class sessions, students discuss issues in groups. In the final month of the class, students work collaboratively on a group project aimed at addressing a shared social justice concern. Outside (TU) students develop more nuanced and realistic perspectives of the criminal justice system, as well as more humanistic and accurate views of the people who are involved in the criminal justice system. Inside (incarcerated) students gain exposure to college-level curriculum and opportunities to place their lived experiences in a larger theoretical framework. Most importantly, inside students gain a renewed sense of inclusion in the human community.
This partnership with Baltimore County Department of Corrections began in summer 2014 and grew to include Harford County Department of Corrections in fall 2017. Over the 2017–2018 academic year, 25 TU students participated in the Inside-Out program with plans to double student participation beginning in the next academic year.
Music Major for a Day
For the first time this year, Towson University and OrchKids, a youth outreach program of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, partnered for a one-day event called Music Major for a Day. Baltimore City youth traveled to campus to experience a day in the life of TU music majors. The day included participation music classes; playing in a symphonic band; small group practice sessions with faculty, staff, and students; a super jam in the Center for the Arts Recital Hall; and dinner alongside TU students. This opportunity not only exposes Baltimore area middle and high school students to the college experience, but also increases TU students’ awareness of career opportunities in music education.
For the inaugural year, 40 Baltimore City middle and high school students participated, and this event is expected to continue annually.
We are thrilled that Towson University will continue to provide transportation funding support in FY19 (July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019), as well as enrichment funding and national visibility support, to increase partnership engagement through BTU—Partnerships at Work for Greater Baltimore.
You can find out more about BTU funding support and the application process at www.towson.edu/BTUsupport.