Established in 1985 using unique learning environments, Living Classrooms provides access to more equitable education, workforce development, community safety, and health and wellness opportunities that enable individuals to achieve their aspirations and build safer, stronger, and healthier communities for all.
For over three decades, we have collaborated with community members in Baltimore and Washington, DC to create diverse programs that are community-driven, research-based, and ultimately designed to disrupt the ecosystem of poverty that can be directly traced to historic and contemporary racial, social, and economic disparities. Our programs and best practices value the priorities and aspirations of community members and deliver both opportunity and results.
From serving a few hundred people in our initial year with the building of the educational vessel Lady Maryland, Living Classrooms has grown to serve over 30,000 children, youth, and adults annually at 30 different sites across the Baltimore and Washington, DC region.
Living Classrooms has developed a distinctive competency in experiential learning – literally learning by direct experience – or what we call “learning by doing.” We utilize our environmental campuses, athletic fields, community centers, and historic ships as “living classrooms.” We work with one child, one teen, one adult, and one family at a time to identify existing barriers towards success and provide skills training, resources, and opportunities.
While each of our program areas is distinct, in combination they create a powerful synergy. Our maritime heritage sites create opportunities for employment training. Our education programs use our environmental and maritime resources as living learning laboratories. Our employability programs create stronger communities that are better prepared to exercise environmental stewardship.
We are dedicated to improving the lives and futures of children, youth, and families as we serve communities with holistic and transformative opportunities.
We strive to build strong, equitable, and sustainable communities through effective education, workforce, and health and wellness opportunities that address deeply-ingrained challenges, and we set high expectations for academic achievement, living-wage job placement, improved community health and safety, and increased constituent engagement.
Our Core Values
We believe that every child, youth, and adult who steps through our doors has the ability to learn and the potential to be great. We recognize that the strength of the community lies in the resilience of each resident, and we nurture the abilities of all participants to achieve a positive collective impact.
We believe that communities must be heard and actively involved from the very beginning. We listen, and we respond with empathy. We keep families, stakeholders, and constituents involved in our planning and programming, and we engage communities with high-quality services and opportunities.
We believe that respectful and honest service, uncompromising standards, a culture of dignity and respect, and transparency in reporting are the foundation upon which we hold ourselves accountable to our supporters, our constituents, and the community.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness
We realize that educational equity and excellence take a diverse coalition of people united around a common purpose and shared values. As a result, we believe our efforts to help dismantle barriers to success in historically marginalized communities must be shaped by those who are directly impacted by the educational, social, and economic inequities. In order to create progress, we believe that each of us needs to work, respect, and communicate effectively with our various stakeholders (e.g., students, parents, partners) with diverse backgrounds (e.g., cultural, educational, political).
Our Core Beliefs
We see every challenge as an opportunity to learn, grow, and think expansively about solutions. When faced with obstacles, we deepen our resolve, adapt, and persist with optimism.