Sadie R. Gregory, Coppin State University Interim Dean and Joseph Jones, founder, president, and CEO, Center for Urban Families

Sadie R. Gregory, Coppin State University Interim Dean and Joseph Jones, founder, president, and CEO, Center for Urban Families

Coppin State University Interim Dean Sadie R. Gregory did nothing to mask her enthusiasm about the school’s mission to serve the greater Baltimore community. She did not attempt to hide the sheer joy about the $300,000 commitment made by The PNC Foundation to help Coppin State University’s new College of Business’s mission of positioning a unique suite of community-facing programs. “I’m so excited about this,” Dr. Gregory exclaimed. “Part of our mission has always been to serve the community, and now we’re stepping up. We have an incredible structure under renovation for our new home for the College of Business that includes an Entrepreneurship Center, a Community Financial Center, and a Partners in Education Center.”

Dr. Gregory and the Coppin State Community weren’t alone in experiencing a boost from The PNC Foundation, which also committed $300,000 to the Center for Urban Families (CFUF). The financial commitments are spread over three years. They are a part of the  financial institutions’ broader pledge to provide more than $1 billion to help end
systemic racism and support African Americans’ economic empowerment and low-income communities. “PNC has been consistent, and to make such a commitment is a recognition of what Baltimore needs,” stated Joseph Jones, the founder, president, and CEO of the CFUF. “We are living in unprecedented times that are challenging our collective ability to fight systemic racism against a backdrop of a global pandemic and acute political strife.

“The battle against system racism is being waged on several fronts, including in communities of color that rarely receive significant corporate investment.  The Center for Urban Families is honored   to be a recipient of a major investment from PNC in support of our efforts to promote social justice and dismantle poverty in West Baltimore.” Over the three years, funding will support CFUF’s family stability programs in low-income communities throughout Baltimore, with the primary focus on their education programming.
STRIVE Baltimore, a four-week job readiness-training program, and Back to Business, a three-day job readiness refresher training, are among the programs benefitting.

The funds also help Baltimore BOOST, a partnership with Baltimore City Community College that provides low-income individuals with targeted training and education and job placement retention support. Additionally, funds are earmarked for the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project; a three-week training integrated into STRIVE Baltimore to assist noncustodial fathers with increasing and building their fatherhood knowledge and skills. It further assists the Homebuying Assistance Program that connects participants
to homeownership counseling, inclusive of financial education. It provides financial assistance to pay for closing costs and, or down payment assistance.

A new “Partners in Education” program at Coppin State will offer direct services for children in BCPSS classrooms within the West Baltimore community. Dr. Gregory noted that the college is passionate about addressing gaps beyond K-12 in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and creating and providing access to small business resources that support
community innovation in the nontraditional sector. Specifically, the school supports entrepreneurial activity, which Dr. Gregory said offers the best opportunities for underserved communities to change their trajectory for many generations to come.

According to Dr. Gregory, an immediate response to the post-pandemic uncertainty in West Baltimore will offer more opportunities for research required to implement effective evidence-based program  models focusing on supporting distressed communities affected by the coronavirus and their transition to community normalization. “Our shared pillars: education, entrepreneurship, and economic development will support addressing the wealth gap in West Baltimore,” Dr. Gregory stated.

“This relationship will strengthen our efforts to deliver entrepreneurship training and financial education to the community. In addition, we see opportunities for student service-learning and evidence based research, supporting the mission of Coppin State University.”

As a Main Street bank, PNC remains dedicated to enriching the lives of all people as officials continue seeking to create a more inclusive economy, said Laura Gamble, PNC regional president for Greater Maryland.  “PNC has a history of investing in our communities and the people who live in these communities to help them become self-sufficient,” Gamble stated. “Now, through these two initiatives, we are also going to make a positive impact through employee volunteerism.”