Chris Van Hollen

05/29/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/29/2024 14:06

Van Hollen, Cardin Celebrate $4.5 Million in Direct Federal Investments in West Baltimore to Support Small Business, Workforce Development, Health Care Initiatives

May 29, 2024

Van Hollen, Cardin Celebrate $4.5 Million in Direct Federal Investments in West Baltimore to Support Small Business, Workforce Development, Health Care Initiatives

Last week, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined local leaders and partners in West Baltimore to highlight $4,500,000 in direct federal investments for two community projects.

The lawmakers first visited Open Works, where they were joined by State Senator Cory McCray, Dr. Anthony Jenkins, President of Coppin State University, and Tom Sadowski, Executive Director at the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, to mark the $2,000,000 they secured for the nonprofit to open a new workforce and small business development "makerspace" in West Baltimore as part of a partnership with Coppin State University. The Senators then joined leaders from the Park West Health System to celebrate the $2,500,000 they secured for the Federally-Qualified Health Center in Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024. This includes $1.5 million secured by the Senators in FY2024 for a mobile health unit, which will provide essential health care services to West Baltimore residents lacking access to primary or emergency health care clinics and $1 million in funding that the Senators and Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) secured for Park West in FY2023 to renovate its more than 70-year-old facility and expand its comprehensive health services while implementing new disciplines such as psychotherapy and youth-specific behavioral services.

"Open Works and Park West Health System have different missions, but they have a critical thing in common - they are opening doors for Baltimoreans. As part of our work to revitalize West Baltimore, we delivered federal investments to these partners to help close gaps in health care access and provide more opportunities for creativity, skills building and emerging small businesses to thrive," said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

"This federal investment in Open Works and Park West will be transformational for West Baltimore. Park West started in a church basement, has grown to serve thousands of Baltimoreans at no cost and will soon be able to serve thousands more. Open Works is advancing the next generation of small business owners and will open doors for even more young entrepreneurs," said Senator Cardin. "We're expanding resources in West Baltimore that will help this community reach its full potential."

"Community Project Funding is a critical priority for me because it represents real dollars going into on-the-ground organizations that deserve federal support for the work they do in our communities. The money secured for Park West Health System and Open Works in fiscal years 2023 and 2024 will go a long way towards serving communities in Baltimore," said Congressman Kweisi Mfume.

Open Works was founded with the goal of rebuilding Baltimore's manufacturing economy. As one of America's largest nonprofit makerspaces, they support 118 jobs and work with over 1,000 young people each year through educational programs. The $2,000,000 in direct federal funding will support their new location at Coppin State University which will offer workforce development training, entrepreneurship support, contract manufacturing for startup organizations, and technical education programs catering to students of all ages.

"We are thrilled by the opportunity to expand access to tools to all Baltimoreans by establishing a second location with our partners at Coppin State. This $2M CDS from our federal partners Sen. Van Hollen, Sen Cardin, and Rep. Mfume is the cornerstone of an economic renaissance in Baltimore," said Will Holman, Executive Director at Open Works.

Park West Health System, Inc. operates three comprehensive primary health care sites in Northwest Baltimore and the surrounding neighborhoods of Baltimore County. Their patients are predominately low-income, and most are enrolled either in Medicaid or uninsured. The $2,500,000 in direct federal funding from Fiscal Years 2023 and 2024 will enable Park West to expand its operations in West Baltimore, close critical gaps in health care access, and continue to provide services to patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

"What makes institutions like Park West Health, a federally qualified health center, so extraordinary in today's healthcare space is that they uphold the belief that health care is a right, and not a privilege," said Dr. Allen Bennett, President & CEO of Park West Health Systems.

Senators Van Hollen and Cardin and Congressman Mfume delivered this funding as part of their broader efforts to renew investment in West Baltimore neighborhoods. Additional federal funding awards they have secured in recent years include $1.25 million for Park Heights Renaissance to acquire, renovate, and sell blighted homes; $1 million to transform Thurgood Marshall's former elementary school - P.S. 103 - into a community hub; $1.75 million to convert the former law office of Juanita Jackson Mitchell into a resource center for survivors of crime and violence; $1.238 million to renovate and revitalize the historic Y in Druid Hill; $4 million to renovate the Arena Players theater, the oldest continually operating Black theater in the United States; and $2 million for planning to reconnect the communities divided by the Highway to Nowhere, among others.