Nonprofit Project at the End of the Semester

This is the end of the semester write up on the nonprofit project in my financial management class. Two weeks ago, we were frustrated that we had not yet gotten any feedback from the city parks department about adopting the greenspace. Since the space we were interested in was half a block from the building our classroom was in, we walked over to it one day. We might have done this sooner, but don’t judge us.

And this is what we saw:

That's some fine greenspace right there (James Howard / University of Baltimore)
That’s some fine greenspace right there (James Howard / University of Baltimore)

As you can see, this is a very well kept space. They have no need for us. I personally think the apartment complex in the background does not realize they don’t own the space and are providing care and maintenance. Or, it is just a better business decision to take it over and they silently adopted the space. Either way, there is no problem here.

But if you turn around, you see this:

That's probably not a rat right there... (James Howard / University of Baltimore)
That’s probably not a rat right there… (James Howard / University of Baltimore)

We don’t know who owns this space. Basic research failed us and it needs some love and care. But it’s not on the city’s list of available spaces for adoption. We do have a second adoption request in, the backup request. I don’t have ground level imagery, but here’s satellite imagery of the site:

There's a lot of greenspace needing help here (City of Baltimore)
There’s a lot of greenspace needing help here (City of Baltimore)

If this is accurate, it does need the help. So we decided to wait on the results of the adoption process. Then this happened:

Where does one find a gas mask in Baltimore, anyway? (Algerina Perna / The Baltimore Sun)
Where does one find a gas mask in Baltimore, anyway? (Algerina Perna / The Baltimore Sun)

Without addressing the underlying social, political, and economic issues here,1 the events of the end of April completely disrupted the semester and the project. We lost a week of class. I do not expect the city was processing this sort of routine applications during this period, either.

Last night was the last class session and we still have not heard from the city. I asked who was interested in continuing the project. There was a tepid response, generally, but 2-3 students wanted to carry on. And that’s fantastic. We are going to keep waiting on the city and plan to have a meetup for the 3-4 of us in late May or early June. Hopefully, we will have gotten our greenspace adoption in order by then and we can start planning a fundraiser.

For my own part, the critical lesson I learned is about organizing the project in the classroom. Student feedback leaned heavily in the direction of picking the project for them (or a short-list). I really wanted to avoid this because I did not want to place the students into service of my vision, but instead their own. But that may be unavoidable. We wasted the first several weeks just trying to figure out what to do and that burnt us overall. So if I teach this class again, we will have a short-list or possibly a predetermined project.

  1. Which are important and the reasons I originally specified the nonprofit had to benefit Baltimore.