The annual Homecoming Hero Awards program recognizes and celebrates remarkable Baltimore City heroes—community and nonprofit leaders, activists, artists and innovators—who have made a recent, significant impact on Baltimore. Read the official contest rules.
Our 2019 Homecoming Hero Winners
Leonor Blum – Founder & Executive Director, !Adelante Latina!
Originally born in Argentina, Leonor taught Latin American history & politics at Notre Dame of Maryland University for 30 years, and wanted to give back after retiring in 2012. Leonor founded ¡Adelante Latina!, a free, after-school college prep program for academically promising, low-income Latinas in BCPS. This year, ¡Adelante Latina! graduated its fourth cohort of 8 students, all of whom will be attending college this fall with full scholarships. Now in its seventh year, the program serves 34 students and has graduated 4 cohorts with most of their graduates currently enrolled in college. www.adelantelatinabaltimore.org
Van Brooks – Executive Director, Safe Alternative Foundation for Education
Van Brooks began Safe Alternative Foundation for Education (SAFE) in 2012 to help students achieve academic success by integrating key academic subjects with real world applications. Van was paralyzed by a football injury in 2004 and developed SAFE when he realized his desire to provide “a program for middle school students that would go far deeper than most after school programs and actually change the trajectory of students’ lives.” www.safealternative.org
Marlo Hargrove – Co-Founder, Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders FACE
With co-founder Archie Lee, Marlo established FACE, “Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders,” a nonprofit transitional housing program for men coming out of prison and out of drug abuse while making plans to expand their much-needed efforts. They purchased a house in northeast Baltimore that, over the years, has housed hundreds of men on their way from prison to the next stage of life with plans to take their operation to Sandtown-Winchester in West Baltimore. www.facebaltimore.org
Shantell Roberts – Founder & Executive Director, Touching Young Lives, Inc.
Shantell is a Social Entrepreneur and Advocate for Maternal & Child Health. After suffering the untimely death of her one year old daughter, she founded Touching Young Lives, Inc. a nonprofit organization that focuses on the health and well-being of infants and children by providing best practice childcare education and essential tools for safe infant sleeping spaces. Since its formation, Shantell has provided over 8,000 portable alternative cribs to families in Baltimore city and Maryland, with one goal in mind: preventing another untimely child death. www.touchingyounglives.com
Ana Rodney – Founder & Executive Director, MOMCares
Ana has been a doula for 12 years, and describes witnessing her first childbirth as a magical and life-changing experience. Ana felt helpless at times as a new mom in the neonatal intensive care unit too tired and preoccupied to communicate her needs. She realized exactly how much both emotional and physical support she needed while caring for a newborn with special medical needs. Ana founded MOMCares, a postpartum doula program designed to support mothers of color in the NICU by providing packaged meals, transportation, bedside support and childcare for older siblings. www.therisingmomcares.com
Our 2019 Homecoming Hero Semi-Finalists
Heber Brown – Pastor, The Black Church Food Security Network
Rev. Dr. Heber M. Brown III is a community organizer, beginner farmer, and Senior Pastor of Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. In 2015, he launched the Black Church Food Security Network which combats food apartheid by providing seed funding and support to help congregations grow food on church-owned land. The Network partners with Black Churches and Black Farmers in the Mid Atlantic region in an effort to create a community-controlled, alternative food system. www.blackchurchfoodsecurity.net
Kayenecha Daugherty – Executive Director, Creative Nomads
Kayenecha is an arts professional with almost 20 years of experience in experiential events and connecting artists & brands. She founded Creative Nomads, an organization that is committed to providing access to arts, music, and culture to youth and families throughout Baltimore including a program called Drumming With Dad which has been successful in providing education, parent engagement and community with the African drum as a learning tool. www.thecreativenomads.org
Blair Franklin – Executive Director, YES Youth Drop-In Center
Blair is a long-time activist for black LGBTQ youth in Baltimore. Blair worked at STAR TRACK at UMB where he led a dynamic team of leaders to connect services to LGBTQ youth. STAR TRACK has since cultivated a pipeline of leaders positioned to give back to their communities. Now as executive director of Baltimore’s only youth homelessness drop-in center, the Youth Empowered Society, he is transforming the organization into a national model for peer-led, youth-led, life-changing services. www.yesdropincenter.org
Nneka N’namdi – Founder & Director, Fight Blight Bmore
Nneka is a Baltimore-based entrepreneur engaged in conscious capitalism and community wellness work. With over 15 years of technical experience Nneka has a diverse body of knowledge and capabilities which include various areas of the software development life cycle, community arts and wellness program development. She is the founder of Fight Blight Bmore, an economic, environmental, and social justice initiative led by the community and informed by data to address the issue of blight. www.fightblightbmore.com
Jamye Wooten – Founder, CLLCTIVLY
Formerly the co-founder of Baltimore United for Change, Jamye launched CLLCTIVLY in 2019, an organization that seeks to create an ecosystem to foster collaboration between Black-led organizations in Baltimore. The goal is to mitigate fragmentation and duplication of programs by providing a resource that seeks to find, fund and partner with black social change organizations. The organization also offers no-strings-attached micro-grants of $1,000. www.cllctivly.org
Our 2018 Homecoming Hero Award Winners
Erricka Bridgeford – Co-Organizer, Baltimore Ceasefire
After working to get Maryland’s death penalty law repealed in 2013, Erricka Bridgeford founded Baltimore Ceasefire in 2017 which co-organizes quarterly 72-hour “Ceasefire” weekends in the hope of reducing violence by celebrating life. Now Baltimore Ceasefire hosts events throughout the year. Erricka was named 2017’s Marylander of the Year by the Baltimore Sun. www.baltimoreceasefire.com.
Monique Brown – Major, Baltimore City Police Department
Major Monique Brown has been a member of the Baltimore City Police Department for 17 years, and has made her mark as a “rising and accomplished star in the department.” Major Brown, who grew up in the city, works diligently to make a positive change in people’s lives and “restore the image of police officers in the Southern District.” Learn more about Charm City Doc, featuring Major Brown’s story alongside many others.
Alphonso Mayo – Founder/Executive, Mentoring Mentors
Alphonso Mayo created Mentoring Mentors as a way to “fill a serious gap in the black community – mentors that look like and have had similar experiences as those their mentees.” Mentoring Mentors has been giving Baltimore’s youth the values and skills needed to overcome academic, social, and emotional obstacles, and by encouraging those youth to continue to mentor, creates a cycle of supportive, strong relationships. www.mentoring-mentors.org.
Mr. Trash Wheel – First Invention of His Kind, the Unmuddied, King of the Flotsam, etc.
Mr. Trash Wheel was invented by John Kellett and his company Clearwater Mills. Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Healthy Harbor Initiative launched a viral social media campaign to get the people of Baltimore engaged in the environmental restoration of the Harbor. Since being installed in May 2014, the Mr. Trash Wheel along with Professor Trash Wheel (in Canton) and Captain Trash Wheel (in Masonville Cove) have removed 859 tons of trash and debris from the water including over 10 million cigarette butts, 684,000 plastic bottles, and 796,000 foam. Learn more.
Brittany Young – Founder/CEO, B360
Brittany Young understands the stigma that dirt bike riding has in Baltimore, and is transforming the image of dirt bike riders. Young created the social venture B-360 advocates for safe bike riding, shows students how the skills they have developed to maintain their bikes can open career opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and encourages diversity in those fields. www.b360baltimore.org.