Child First Authority Featured on Maryland Public Television’s State Circle

Child First’s Executive Director Carol Reckling and Program Coordinator at John Eager Howard Ashanti Chambers were featured in a recent episode of Maryland Public Television’s State Circle. The full episode can be found here:

For the Child First segment check out the MPTV’s Facebook Post!

Thank you to our partners at Maryland Public Television for highlighting our efforts!

“Door Knocking”: Child First Initiates a Best Practice for Community Schools

Bay Brook Door Knock 2012 (Team)

CFA Staff and Bay Brook Elementary Middle School Administrators visit families in Brooklyn Homes Summer 2012

When Child First joined the Community Schools movement in July 2012 it was clear that we needed to take the school to the community. We were birthed by community organizing, and it only made sense to use the same principles with our seven new community school partners. Armed with information about the start of school and school programs (including the Child First after school program), the team of seven new community school coordinators visited neighbors in each community with the news that their schools were now community schools. To their surprise, they were received graciously by the community who were glad to see them along with teachers and principals who joined the Door Knocking Campaign.

For these new community school coordinators, walking through the community and talking with people who lived there just as school was about to start was a good opportunity to get to know the community. In 2012 we were able to encourage a few staff members and a few principals to join us in our endeavors to meet with the community. A neighbor behind one door we knocked provided a new partnership with an Episcopal Church that provided 50 new backpacks to local families! This practice of meeting families where they live was an important beginning to building a bridge between community and school.

City Springs Door Knock 2013 (Team)

CFA Staff and City Springs Elementary Middle School’s Attendance Team with Baltimore City Public Schools Network Staff in Perkins Homes Summer 2013

The summer of 2013 brought new changes to the Door Knocking Campaign. With the success of 2012 in reminding families when school started and the vitality of developing meaningful relationships we expanded the Campaign a bit. A few teachers, social workers, and counselors joined in the campaign with the administrators and Child First Team. Again what they saw was extremely important to understanding the daily lives of their students: where they live, what routes they take to go to school, local stores, ect; all important things to understand about their lives. In addition to that families began to be excited to see their favorite teachers knocking on their doors; staff members began to develop important relationships with parents as phone numbers were exchanged; and parents agreed to work with teachers to be partners in education for their children. The teams at each school grew to be about 15 to 20 at each site and the culture again began to shift to one of relationships.

City Springs Door Knock 2014

CFA Staff and City Springs Elementary Middle School Staff in Perkins and Douglass Homes Summer 2014 (Photo Credit: Max Hughes)

By the summer of 2014 other groups around Baltimore began to realize the importance of Back to School Community Walks and it became a best practice for Baltimore City Public School Principals and was highly encouraged by the district for all staff members to participate in. Principals at Child First Community Schools were already well prepared for these events and began to take the Door Knocking to the next level by making it a part of the mandatory staff development training the week before school started. Principals tapped the Child First Community School Coordinators to be the leaders for the community walks and the CSCs led full staff trainings around the importance of the activity. Students and families were overjoyed to see their favorite teachers walking through the community knocking on doors and wishing everyone a great start to the school year, one teacher reflected on the experience by saying “I felt like the pied-piper! Kids kept following me everywhere and were so excited to see me, what a wonderful way to start the school year!” The day began to set the tone for staff members to get outside of their school walls and meet with parents and students where they are, throughout the 2014-2015 school year Child First CSCs were asked multiple times by teachers to join them in doing additional home visits for students who were in need of support with attendance, academics, or behavior and teachers began to see the value of developing meaningful relationships with their students and families.

City Springs Door Knock 2014 (family)

City Springs Teacher Greeting a Parent in Perkins Homes Summer 2014 (Photo Credit: Max Hughes)

For 2015, the Child First teams are different—the seven community school coordinators no longer walk in each other’s school communities. Instead, they collaborate with their principals to organize a walk for the school staff the week before school starts and spread out and meet their students and families where they live.

Child First Authority at John Eager Howard Elementary School Receives United Way MD Unites Fund Grant

In the wake of April’s unrest in Baltimore City, Child First Authority and John Eager Howard Elementary School decided to make this summer one of the best and most memorable for students by providing a free summer program. John Eager Howard Elementary School is located a few blocks from North and Pennsylvania Avenues, the site of much of the unrest. Thanks to a grant from the Maryland Unites Fund of United Way, we provided summer fun and learning for 45 students. Led by Ashanti Porter-Chambers, the program provided literacy and math instruction, hands-on STEM projects, technology, art, sports and recreation, and 4 field trips. Thank you to our partners at John Eager Howard Elementary School and United Way for providing this opportunity for our students.JEH Summer

JEH Summer Participants Playing Golf at Rocky Gorge

2013 Child First Holiday Happy Hour

As the days get shorter and we start hearing holiday ads on the TV and radio it’s time to think about the people and causes that are most important to us. We at the Child First Authority would like to thank you for your support throughout the year and invite you to a celebration with us before the holidays get into full swing! Please consider joining us on Thursday December 5, 2013 for our Holiday Happy Hour at Mad River Bar and Grill!  Tickets are on sale at the door for $10 and your ticket will give you a free drink ticket and half priced appetizers, 100% of the ticket sales will go towards the quality after school, leadership development, and community school programming that Child First offers. We hope to spend the evening with you celebrating all of our accomplishments!

Back to School Door Knocking

City Springs Door Knocking Team

City Springs Door Knocking Team

As the weather starts to cool down the Child First Authority Community School Coordinators are working hard with their schools to spread the Back to School message to students living within their communities. The Community School Coordinator team worked with CFA Organizers, teachers, Baltimore City Public Schools Network staff, community partners, parents, and students from August 12-August 19th to help spread the message that all City Schools will start school on August 26th, 2013 and students should attend “All Day Every Day.” In addition to reminding families about the start date teams also informed families about the Mayor’s Back to School Rally where families could receive free school supplies, and other resources they could access from their community school. In the end school teams from Bay-Brook Elementary Middle School, John Eager Howard Elementary School, Westside Elementary School, City Springs Elementary Middle School, Calvin Rodwell Elementary School, and Hilton Elementary School knocked on over 1,000 doors to  spread the Back to School Message!


Since April 2012, Child First has worked with Give Corps to reach a wider audience of donors.  In this time, we have raised close to $10,000 from individual donors!  On October 11th, Child First was selected from a number of nonprofits to participate in the Give Corps Anniversary Change Party.  Child First met over 200 of Baltimore’s newly engaged philanthropists.  The philanthropic attendees donated money to join the event,  purchased raffle tickets for Baltimore’s favorite entertainment venues and restaurants and bid on silent auction items!  Furthermore, as one of the 5 selected nonprofits highlighted at the Give Corps Change Party, Child First will evenly share all of the proceeds raised from the event!

A special thank you to all who have supported our Give Corps fundraisers online and at events  including: The Art Show, the Friend and FUNraisers at Golden West and 788 Gallery and the Olive Room-hosted by Informatica.

Child First Olive Inn Fundraiser

Child First recognizes all of our board of directors, partners and funders who attended the Child First Fundraiser hosted by the Olive Inn and Scott Vandiver. View event photos below: