Advancing Educational Equity through Excellent After-School Programs

Excel Beyond the Bell Elementary (EBBE) will almost double in size this year, from 6 to 10 of the county’s highest-poverty schools, and serving 1,200 students and families with 2 hours of quality academic and enrichment activities, and dinner, 5 days a week, 28 weeks a year. Parents are trained in leadership development and civic engagement to address pressing issues, including inadequate school facilities and community safety. The County’s Office of Legislative Oversight found that EBBE was the primary program addressing educational inequity in Montgomery County. AIM believes that we will not obtain an equitable system until the parents engage with the school board and elected officials represent the true diversity of the county. Thank you to the County Council for prioritizing funding for this program!

$60 Million in School Construction

For over two years, AIM leaders across the county have worked to secure funding to renovate two long-neglected elementary schools: Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools. In November of this year, over 186 students, parents, teachers, and staff from these two schools joined together, along with other leaders from AIM, before the Board of Education to demonstrate their united commitment to securing the best education possible for the children of Montgomery County. After this strong show of support, the Board of Education voted to commit $60 million to rebuild Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools, two of the highest-poverty schools in Montgomery County.

Affordable Housing

AIM won big this year for affordable housing. The County Council included a record amount of funding—$68 million—in the Housing Initiative Fund, which will house thousands of people in dwellings they can afford. This brings the total to over $725 million since AIM first won dedicated funding for housing many years ago. Additionally, AIM has worked on a number of specific projects, supporting over 100 units of senior affordable housing in Wheaton, and a project under review for 100 units of senior affordable housing in Kensington, where no affordable housing has been built in a generation.

Support for Immigrants at Risk of Deportation

In March, Afomu Kelley stood before an AIM action with 400 people, and shared the terrible fear she was living in, as it looked like her Deferred Enforced Departure protected status would end in under 3 weeks. She would then have to move to Liberia, a country she hadn’t been to in over 30 years, and where she might not be able to receive the treatment she needs for her chronic health problems. She would also have to choose whether her children would move with her or stay in the U.S. with relatives they do not know well. Her feelings were familiar to many in the room, as well as hundreds and hundreds of AIM members who are undocumented, or whose current legal status could disappear in the near future.

At this March meeting, the County Executive and County Council publicly committed to putting $540,000 in the budget to provide legal support for immigrants facing deportation. Often, the barrier for people seeking a legal pathway to remain in the U.S. is access to qualified legal representation. AIM is committed to increasing funding for this purpose.

Tenant Organizing

AIM has worked directly with some of the most vulnerable residents in Montgomery County, many of whom are undocumented immigrants from around the world who live in substandard conditions with toxic mold, unsafe neighborhoods, vermin, and other terrible conditions. AIM has identified, trained, and developed local leaders in several neighborhoods to effectively build the power to win mold remediation, better policing, community lighting, increased responsiveness by elected officials and landlords to community concerns, and pedestrian safety improvements.

Looking Ahead

As we move into the new year, AIM’s commitment to making Montgomery County a better place to live, work, and raise a family is as strong as ever.

We’ll start off the year by going door-to-door at Cider Mill Apartments, working with tenant-leaders in the community to organize residents to hold the HOC and management company accountable.

In February, we’ll gather a Countywide Action Team Meeting to prepare for an accountability action in March. Mark your calendars for a March (date TBD) Accountability Action that will kick-off listening sessions in AIM congregations and schools to identify pressing issues and solutions toward educational equity in Montgomery County.

How will you join AIM in 2020 to ensure a safer, stronger, and better Montgomery County for all?