Johns Hopkins University has announced that it will respond to the violent riots which beset the streets of surrounding Baltimore, Md. over five months ago by hiring 60 secretaries and food service workers who live in destitute neighborhoods.
Officials at Johns Hopkins and Johns Hopkins Health System announced the strategy to hire the five dozen poor people earlier this week, reports The Baltimore Sun.
The new hires for cafeteria work, clerical work and other duties will be required to have addresses in one of 16 Baltimore zip codes where unemployment, poverty and blight are rampant.
Currently, about one quarter of the people hired by Johns Hopkins and its various branches and institutions live in these zip codes.
The hiring plan is part of a broader “HopkinsLocal” initiative.
Other aspects of the initiative include a mandate to commit 17 percent of the school’s design and construction contracts with businesses owned by minorities and women each. The 17-percent figure equates to about $23 million annually.
The school also hopes to raise its spending on vendors generally located in Baltimore from $56 million per year to $62 million per year.
The price for one year of undergraduate tuition, room and board and mandatory fees at Johns Hopkins is about $62,250 (not including a $500 “matriculation fee” for all freshmen).
The median household income in Baltimore is $41,385 — over $30,000 below the statewide median in Maryland, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Just under 24 percent of all residents in Baltimore live below the poverty line.
Johns Hopkins University employs almost 40,000 people. The sum of its net assets is roughly $4.9 billion.
Johns Hopkins U. also maintains an endowment of $3.45 billion.
Johns Hopkins Hospital employs over 12,000 people. Its net assets are about $1.3 billion.
Officials at Johns Hopkins have faced perennial pressure to provide tangible economic benefits in the city of Baltimore. The pressure has increased since the April 19 death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent riots, fires and looting. (RELATED: Murder Rate Skyrockets In Baltimore After Freddie Gray Fracas)
Gray, 25, fell into a coma at some point while police were transporting him in a van. Police then took the 25-year-old man to a trauma center, where he died 10 days later. (RELATED: Professor Blames Baltimore Riots On ‘White Privilege,’ Calls For Massive Surveillance Of White People)
“It’s clearly a critical moment in our city and this is a historic moment for our university and our health system as we strengthen and renew our commitment in Baltimore,” Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. Daniels told the Sun. “This is an effort to demonstrate that we have listened to what we have been hearing.”
U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, lauded the initiative.
“Economic inclusion efforts are critical to revitalizing Baltimore, especially in the wake of April’s unrest,” Cummings said in a statement obtained by the Sun. “Johns Hopkins is leading by example in its efforts to provide economic opportunities for Baltimore residents and businesses.”