Why IFO?

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Afro-Semitic Experience, Beth Am, Jan. 18, 2014 040

For generations, Reservoir Hill has been an important part of the life of countless Baltimoreans. It has been—and continues to be—where they are raising their families, running their businesses, worshipping, and creating opportunities. Once one of the city’s premiere neighborhoods, the neighborhood experienced a change—like many urban communities—at the end of the 20th century that resulted in a decrease in population, the loss of neighborhood businesses and services, and blight.

That trend is reversing. This is a particularly opportune time to devote attention, energy and resources to this historic community. Many initiatives are aligning to create substantial momentum in Reservoir Hill.

  • Prominent funders are committing their resources to support physical development, social services and community programs.
  • Successful nonprofit and private developers and financial institutions are investing in the redevelopment of houses and apartments.
  • Community leaders are leveraging the $16 million renovation of John Eager Howard Elementary School to spur additional development and improvements.
  • A large tract of land, formerly used for public housing, is being prepared for redevelopment.
  • Public spaces are being enlivened with exciting events and programs.
  • For the first time in decades, new retail establishments are opening in Reservoir Hill

There is a measurable need and remarkable opportunity in Reservoir Hill.

Why “IFO?”

In 2011, Rabbi Daniel Burg of Beth Am synagogue challenged the congregation to consider whether it could be not only in Reservoir Hill, and for Reservoir Hill, but also of Reservoir Hill. Over the next two years, members of an “IFO” task force engaged urban policy professionals, community organizers, and neighborhood activists in discussions about the neighborhood. In partnership with organizations and community leaders in Reservoir Hill, the group hosted successful community-building events at Beth Am and scores of congregants participated in events, forums and planning conversations throughout the community.

The formation in 2013 of In For Of, Inc. (IFO), an independent nonprofit organization, provided a permanent structure for joint congregational-community-based efforts. Since then, the purpose and role of IFO has expanded to become a vibrant, community-based, egalitarian initiative making a positive impact on this thriving neighborhood.