[Communications: University of Maryland School of Social Work]

The University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Promise Heights initiative, which is led by the School of Social Work (SSW), has played a pivotal role in the lives of students at a West Baltimore high school that has been disproportionately afflicted by violence.

The saga of a group of seniors at Renaissance Academy (RA) has unfolded since last fall on local television, in a continuing series of reports that grew out of the award winning project, “Collateral Damage,” in The Baltimore Sun, and most recently, in a multi-media story, “Coming of Age in a City Coming Apart,” in The Washington Post.

Khalil Bridges is shown outside Renaissance Academy (RA), which is among the University of Maryland School of Social Work community schools, at a time when he was a senior speaking on behalf of RA in a television interview.

For one of the members of the RA Class of 2016, the potentially life-altering attention may help him get a better job and enroll in community college. Khalil Bridges, who was the focus of the Post story published online June 16 and in print editions June 19, found himself in the spotlight again on June 22.

‘I believe in you’: An outpouring of help for a Baltimore teen” tells how Bridges had not expected anyone to help him financially when he graduated from RA. But readers who were touched by his will to overcome travails responded. As reporter Theresa Vargas wrote: “In the days since Bridges was featured in in a Washington Post article that detailed his struggles to graduate from one of Baltimore’s most troubled high schools — a place where three young men were lost to violence this school year — dozens of offers to help have poured in from strangers, some who know Khalil’s community well and others who live far removed from it.”

On June 23, the Post published: “’Soar Khalil soar!’ Nearly 250 strangers give a Baltimore teenage