BALTIMORE WISDOM PROJECT is one of the best charities to donate to in 2023.
What We Do
The Baltimore Wisdom Project (BWP) is the Baltimore division and headquarters of Wisdom Projects, Inc., a 13-year-old, secular, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Our work is 100 percent free/no-cost. We accept no fees or gifts from community members and institutional partners. We fundraise, consult, and offer communications, editorial, and media services to support our mission.
Our movement-organizing and community-building for peacemaking and justice has high impact. In the greater Baltimore area, there is a high prevalence of violence (hundreds of homicides and maimings each year; oftentimes several killings per week; scores of domestic violence cases each month; frequent school stabbings, shootings, fighting, and more).
Yet in our current project, to date, no one enrolled in our programming has endured major violent incidents in their lives and no lives of enrollees have been lost due to violence. In our evaluations, community members report that the programming consistently improves their mental health, physical well-being, and capacities to form and sustain healthy relationships.
Most violence prevention and interruption work in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area and Mid-Atlantic region focuses on men and boys. Our work breaks ground with its gender inclusiveness. We bring cis, trans, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming women and girls together with men, boys, and non-binary individuals across generations—parents, grandparents, and youth—to work towards lasting peace and liberation in homes, neighborhoods, and communities.
Click here to learn more about our approach to peacemaking and holistic learning.
Click here for overviews of our current peacemaking programs.
Click here to learn about the central role that STEM education plays within our peacemaking work.
We empower survivors and victims of violence. Most of the people with whom we work live in low-income housing communities or public housing and suffer from combined inequalities and injustices of poverty, housing insecurity, multifaceted discrimination, food insecurity, inadequate, or inaccessible healthcare, and exposure to trauma and violence.
We provide ongoing equality-centered and life science-centered, education and training in which youth and adults learn and practice peacemaking skills like de-escalation, conflict management, restorative justice, mindfulness, and trauma informed care. This education and healing empowers enrolled community members to become neighborhood peace advocates, ambassadors, and leaders. All enrollees receive daily, weekly, and monthly peer counseling in support groups; workshops in peacemaking methods; mediations; and wrap-around compensation if they reach benchmarks of violence prevention.
We center families—those within which we are born and those that we choose. Instead of only recruiting and enrolling individual youth and adults (or only relying on certain kinds of individuals as peacemakers), we recruit and enroll family units—youth with their parents or legal guardians as well as siblings, grandparents, and chosen relations.
Along with our gender-inclusivness, this family-centered, holistic feature of our violence prevention and equality work makes it stand out in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Centering the family in our violence prevention efforts also helps us work with community members on the root causes of conflicts within their interpersonal relationships.
When we say that our approach is "holistic," we mean that whole-community violence prevention must root in homes and families and be inclusive of multiple genders and generations. Strong ethics for peacemaking in the family and the home then branch out into the neighborhood, schools, and streets led by family members who are well-trained in peacemaking.
Centering peacemaking diversely and inclusively in the family helps us mediate complex cases of harm. There is no such thing as the "perfect" victim, survivor, or "offender." Offenses are rarely only two-sided. Violence occurs in relationships where parties may have relationships or even care for one another. We practice sophisticated holistic approaches to peacemaking and justice that rethink civic, court-centered, and policing-centered models for justice.
Our peacemaking champions equality and scientific intelligence. We view equity as inextricably linked to peace, wellness, and happiness for all people and not just a few. When enrollees learn life science about the healthy function of their organ systems, about environmental health and justice, about nutrition, and about the well-being of nonhuman species, then they gain fact-based knowledge that gives them the evidence to uplift their own lives.
Our work is full-time and daily—6 days-a-week—Monday through Saturday —as we embed ourselves in the communities that we serve.
We conduct ourselves with maximal cultural sensitivity and cultural responsiveness.
Our staff live in the city close to the communities that we serve and we make our "offices" in the field.
Our Longterm Partnership
Currently, we are the official Educational and Health Services Partner with the over 200-plus-year-old McKim Center in East Baltimore City. Guided by a longterm memorandum-of-understanding, we work 6-days-a-week in partnership with McKim in a 5-day-a-week out-of-school-time program (called "STEM & Healing Arts for Peacemaking") augmented by weekly and monthly peer support groups, peer counseling, community counseling, mediations, and trainings in equity-centered peacemaking.
At McKim, we prevent violence and cultivate a science-centered and equality-centered culture of healing and justice. We also offer deep institutional support to elevate the McKim Center's operations, communications, programming, and fundraising.
At the outset of our McKim Center Partnership, after extensive community participatory research, we were able to enroll approximately 1⁄8 of the total population of 1,549 low-income predominately Black households in the four housing projects surrounding the McKim Center: Albemarle Square, Latrobe Homes, Douglass Homes, and Pleasant View Gardens. We also reach extended families and additional youth and families who live in other parts of Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Now in its fifth year, our partnership has added two more housing projects to those that we serve: Broadway Homes and New Somerset Homes.
This community participatory research consists of ongoing home visits, community counseling, case management, and intake sessions where we discovered and assessed youth and families' needs, values, histories, identities, customs, and practices in culturally sensitive ways.
Sometimes (as in this book, this book, and other publications), this kind of practical field research is called "community-based participatory research." We intentionally remove the term "based" because our work is not merely founded in or related to communities; rather, we work directly, fully, and immersively for, by, with, within, and because of community and communities. Moreover, our community participatory research is fully beneficial and accountable to community members, and in turn, community members are accountable to themselves and to the values and practices that we espouse.
Our McKim Center Partnership serves approximately 300 youth and families year-round. We learned that approximately 52 percent of the people that we serve are women and girls, and the remainder are men, boys, and nonbinary individuals. Over 90 percent of the youth and families that we serve report being trauma-impacted survivors and/or victims of violence. A majority of our adult enrollees have experienced addiction and recovery (approximately 68 percent). Many also have endured incarceration or their relatives have endured incarceration (approximately 65 percent).
Designed by Upāsikā Miss tree turtle, the Director (CEO) of the Baltimore Wisdom Project, our curricula empowers youth and families to become neighborhood peace advocates, ambassadors, and leaders. We do this by creating spaces and places where youth, families, and organizations may embrace healing arts like trauma-sensitivity, disability-awareness, restorative justice practices, conflict management, de-escalation, mindfulness, and social and emotional learning.
For youth, we integrate these healing arts into daily out-of-school-time lessons (as well as school-time consultations) emphasizing STEM (life sciences, environmental justice, math, and engineering); justice studies; cultural studies; and civic studies. Nature and wilderness studies are a vital part of our scientific curricula.
For adults, we also ground all peer counseling, training, and support groups in life science, linking peacemaking and wellness to biological, botanical, and environmental knowledge.
For youth and adults, we offer assistance with administrative forms, transportation services, limited help with emergency expenses, and other wrap-around services to aide community members as they contend with both interpersonal and systemic problems that impede peace, health, and wellness. We call these services the "Inner Ground Railroad."
Previously, the Baltimore Wisdom Project worked in partnership with community centers like the former Penn North Kids Safe Zone/Harambee Center in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Sandtown-Winchester and the 29th Street Community Center in the Greenmount East neighborhood of East Baltimore City.
We are one of the best charities to which to donate in 2023 and 2024.
Click here to visit the website of Wisdom Projects, Inc., our umbrella nonprofit organization.
Click here to visit the website of the Chicago Wisdom Project.
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Click here for our policies.
Click here to learn about our staff.
Click here to learn about our values and practices.
Click here to learn about our approach to restorative justice.
Click here to learn about the standards to which we adhere within our learning environments.
Click here to learn about how we measure our impact.
Stay turned for more information about our consultations. Our extended work with schools and workplaces helps ensure just and inclusive inter-professional, interpersonal, and intercultural relations. In our work consultations, we share holistic learning tools of conflict management, restorative justice practices, and mindfulness.
Our work has high impact. We prevent and eliminate incidents of violence for the youth and families enrolled in our programs. We decisively uplift the organizations with whom we partner.
Your donations changes lives for peace, equality, and wellness.
We are a regional leader in the Middle Atlantic United States for peace, violence prevention, equality, holistic education, and community healing.
Become a Patron of Wisdom Projects and support us with recurring monthly donations for just the price of a cup of coffee at https://www.patreon.com/wisdomcommunity.
Or send your tax deductible donations in any denomination of U.S. currency via PayPal to @wisdomprojects Or click here to donate directly via PayPal.
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We are deeply grateful for your support.
We are deeply grateful to our present and past individual and organizational supporters and funders, including the NoVo Foundation, William Jordan, Gunpowder Friends, the Miles White Beneficial Society, Youth As Resources, the Baltimore Development Corporation, Education First, and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.