The comments from President Trump about Maryland’s 7th Congressional District targeted one of our beloved communities, and they merit a clear response. These racist comments portray the homes and neighborhoods of our scholars as hopeless, but we know the opposite is true. Our scholars and their families and communities are replete with hope – and the drive to bring that hope to life.
Their hope is not just a loose belief in a better tomorrow, it is a muscular hope. It must climb over formidable obstacles every day. Our scholars in Baltimore face serious obstacles—they come to us too often reading far below grade level, upholding significant family duties as young as age 10, and facing violence in their neighborhoods. They also benefit from close-knit communities, pride in their families and roots, and extraordinary resilience.
Day after day, they stand tall. Our middle school scholars in Baltimore come to Achievement Centers to learn with joy and gusto. They laugh with and learn with mentors, they improve their grades (outpacing their peers in a recent MDRC interim study), and they advance to top high schools like Poly and Western. With a strong academic and social/emotional foundation, our scholars go into success in high school and college, and many of them return to us and their neighborhoods as volunteers and change agents.
Our scholars exemplify Baltimore pride, which we have seen echoed across the media in recent days. It gives me hope.
For the past ten years, Higher Achievement Baltimore has committed to the city and the people who make it strong, and we are proud to serve the next generation of Baltimore leaders. Our scholars are eager and curious; they’re hopeful, and they’re my hope. We can create the world that these scholars – that everyone in the 7th District – deserve: one built on unity.
When grappling with hate and racism, it is important to pause, see, and connect in community. For me, that’s our Baltimore staff, with whom I am lucky to work, and our incredible scholars, by whom I am always inspired. It is both our privilege and our imperative to serve them – and to stand with them.
Lynsey Wood Jeffries
CEO, Higher Achievement