The Opportunity Collaborative
On June 8, 2015, the Opportunity Collaborative launched the Baltimore Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, the first-ever plan that brings together housing, workforce development and transportation for the region to reduce disparities and connect all of our citizens to a prosperous future. More than 250 people attended the launch event held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
The outcomes of the plan will lower transportation costs for families, create cleaner and safer communities and increase educational and employment opportunities throughout the region. The RPSD is the culmination of three years of research, analysis and deliberation. The plan’s recommendations and strategies are intended to address the challenges created by regional disparities.
The Opportunity Collaborative’s planning process for the RPSD went beyond traditional research and analysis. It awarded demonstration and workforce investment grants to road-test some of its ideas. The Collaborative also undertook a wide-ranging public engagement process that focused jointly on business and grassroots leadership throughout the region. In addition, the Collaborative created a leadership development program that brought together a diverse group of people from all walks of life together to examine our work. Finally, delegates traveled to five other metropolitan regions to observe other regions’ best practices. All of these grants, engagement sessions, meetings and delegation visits helped to create a plan full of recommendations grounded in real-world experiences.
The Opportunity Collaborative is a consortium of local governments, state agencies, universities and nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore region creating the RPSD. The Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the council of government for the Baltimore region, provides the Opportunity Collaborative with technical and staff support through a $3.5 million HUD Sustainable Communities grant. The co-chairs of the Collaborative are William H. Cole IV, president and CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation, and Scot T. Spencer, of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Informed through a combination of research on job vacancy advertisements, discussions with educational institutions and interviews with 20 employers in the cybersecurity and engineering fields, the Mid-Skilled Career Pathways in Engineering Technology, Cybersecurity and IT study identifies the scope of employers’ labour force needs for mid-skilled careers in engineering technology, cybersecurity, and information technology fields. The report focuses in particular on mid-skilled careers requiring education beyond a high school diploma but less than a Bachelor’s degree. It includes an exploration of the educational infrastructure at colleges in the region and the types of formal education and job training that employers prefer, including apprenticeships, on-the-job training, degree programs, and other types of job training. The study identifies promising entry-level “starting-point” positions and career pathways into jobs that pay a family-supporting wage.
About the Opportunity Collaborative
The Opportunity Collaborative (“the Collaborative”, previously known as the Baltimore Sustainable Communities Initiative) is the consortium charged with developing Baltimore’s Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD). This 25 member coalition includes six local governments, our metropolitan planning organization, three Maryland state agencies, two universities and local philanthropy and advocacy organizations. BMC serves as the lead applicant and fiscal agent for the Collaborative. Bill Cole, President & CEO of the Baltimore Development Corporation, and Scot Spencer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation serve as the Collaborative’s Co-Chairs.
Over the course of the three years, the Collaborative developed a RPSD that links our region’s housing, transportation and workforce development plans and investments with specific focus on reducing regional disparities. Government, philanthropic and private sector partners worked together with community members to develop a practical plan to connect all of our citizens to a prosperous and sustainable future. The process of developing this plan included extensive community education and engagement, citizen leadership development, real world demonstration projects and the writing of regional housing and workforce development plans. Central to the RPSD was the development of a financial strategy for implementation to ensure that the recommendations of the planning process can be put into place and the positive lessons learned through demonstration projects can be widely replicated.
Diane L. Bell McKoy
Marsha L. McLaughlin
Robert E. Hellauer, Jr.
Gerrit J. Knaap
Kathleen M. Koch
Scot T. Spencer
Thomas J. Stosur
Members of Opportunity Collaborative include:
- City of Annapolis
- Anne Arundel County
- Annie E. Casey Foundation
- Associated Black Charities
- Baltimore City
- Baltimore County
- Baltimore Integration Partnership
- Baltimore Metropolitan Council
- Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative
- Baltimore Regional Transportation Board
- Citizens Planning & Housing Association, Inc.
- Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE)
- Central Maryland Transportation Alliance
- Enterprise Community Partners
- Greater Baltimore Committee
- Innovative Housing Institute
- Harford County
- Howard County
- Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development
- Maryland Department of Planning
- Maryland Department of Transportation
- Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission
- Morgan State University
- University of Maryland, National Center for Smart Growth
- 1,000 Friends of Maryland
About the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant
On June 16, 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) formed the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The partnership agencies incorporate six principles of livability into federal funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals.
The six Livability Principles are:
Provide more transportation choices
Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
Promote equitable, affordable housing
Expand location- and energy-efficient housing choices for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities to increase mobility and lower the combined cost of housing and transportation.
Enhance economic competitiveness
Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services and other basic needs by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
Support existing communities
Target federal funding toward existing communities—through strategies like transit-oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling—to increase community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural landscapes.
Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment
Align federal policies and funding to remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
Value communities and neighborhoods
Enhance the unique characteristics of all communities by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban, or suburban.
The Opportunity Collaborative has added a seventh Livability Principle for our work here in Baltimore:
Protect the Chesapeake Bay
Promote location efficient and low-impact development in the region.
The Regional Planning Grant program, an effort of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities encourages grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure investments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to create more jobs and economic opportunities. The program places a priority on partnerships, including the collaboration of arts and culture, philanthropy, and innovative ideas to the regional planning process. For more details on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities please visit their website at: http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/