In the past few years, the city of Baltimore, Maryland, has suffered tremendous economic, social, and political instability. Despite this, Johns Hopkins University has remained a thriving Baltimore institution.
As the largest private employer in the state of Maryland, Johns Hopkins leadership saw an opportunity to make a positive change in the surrounding community. In 2015, the university launched a work initiative aimed at providing jobs to its struggling neighbors, WJZ-TV reported.
— JohnsHopkinsMedicine (@HopkinsMedicine) December 13, 2015
Johns Hopkins leads $69 million initiative to bring jobs to Baltimore after riots https://t.co/rfLKhU0cY2
— Josh White (@JoshWhiteTWP) April 4, 2016
In addition to pledging to donate millions to local community efforts, Hopkins has hired around 300 individuals, more than 100 of whom had criminal records. The goal is to provide a second chance for those who, for various reasons, may struggle with finding gainful employment.
Clayton Smith, a former truck driver, now works as a supply coordinator at the university. Smith says having the opportunity to work at a prestigious institution like Johns Hopkins has changed his life.
“I’m 54 years old now, and I am starting a new career and I feel like I have a new lease on life,” Smith told WJZ.
Johns Hopkins will also invest $55 million in local minority and women-owned businesses as a part of the new initiative.
Taharka Brothers, a Baltimore-based ice cream chain, recently opened a shop on the school’s campus. The shop owner, Sean Smeeton, told WJZ that his company has benefitted greatly from Johns Hopkins’ commitment to local businesses.
“Hopkins [sought] us out,” Smeeton said. “I guess they were really trying to use their buying power to buy local products from local businesses.”
Johns Hopkins President Ron Daniels explained the new initiative as a chance for a successful institution to acknowledge its obligation to its neighbors.
“We are proud of Baltimore and we know we have a responsibility to the city, and so providing this kind of opportunity is something that reflects a deep understanding of commitment to the city,” Daniels told WJZ.
He hopes the effort will continue to catch on with other businesses that have witnessed the program’s success in empowering the discouraged and the disenfranchised.
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