Baltimore Times hosts ‘ACCESS TO CAPITAL’ Forum

Harbor Bank, MECU, Wells Fargo and Meridian Management Group were among the local bankers and financial institutions to join a Baltimore Times-sponsored event that instructed dozens of individuals on how to get on the path to success for raising capital for their businesses. MCE (Maryland Capital Enterprises, Inc.); kiva: Small Business Resource Center; and Minority Business Development Agency were other partners.

The forum, titled “Access to Capital” featured micro-financers, specialty lenders, banks and credit unions whose goal was to help educate local entrepreneurs. Two entrepreneurs, Aaron Jones and Tammira Lucas were also present to talk about their experiences as business owners.

 Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Cara Paige, founder, Color Paige Creative.

Dennis Roberts

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Cara Paige, founder, Color Paige Creative.

“Education is the key to building wealth and building successful business leads to the creation of generational wealth,” said Everett Sands, the CEO and president of Lendistry, a small business lender in operations for nearly 20 years.

“I think understanding that there is a path to successful financing is key,” Sands said.

Sands partnered with the nonprofit Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development, Inc. and the Baltimore Times to host the workshop at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African History & Culture on June 10, 2017.

The event underscored the need for financial education, said Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times.

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Anthony Shoats, CEO, Xquisite Transportation, LLC

Dennis Roberts

Joy Bramble, publisher of The Baltimore Times presents checks to grant winner, Anthony Shoats, CEO, Xquisite Transportation, LLC

“Without adequate financial knowledge, businesses and individuals could face some serious obstacles. We don’t want to wait until we have some sort of financial crisis before trying to obtain a financial education and the ‘Access to Capital’ event was designed to do just that,” Bramble said.

As a community organization and Baltimore’s Credit Union, it’s MECU’s responsibility to participate in such events, said Sheila Lawson, vice president of business services for MECU.

“Entrepreneurs need to understand what financial institutions require with commercial loan requests and why this information is necessary. The knowledge of what’s required will generally help facilitate a better application process,” Lawson said. She added: “I think the event was very well received from both the panelists and the attendees.”

A panel of lenders comprised of industry experts from a wide spectrum of financial institutions responded to loan and financial related queries.

“I participated to help businesses know what they can do to be successful,” said Calvin Young, a vice president at the Harbor Bank of Maryland. “Understanding how to get capital is a cornerstone of business growth,” Young said.

There were lots of good questions from both new and seasoned business owners, said David R. White, of Wells Fargo Business Bank.

“It’s always great to share helpful tips with business owners on the best ways to access capital as well as the different financing options available depending on where they are in the business life cycle,” White said.

Anthony Shoats of Xquisite Transportation LLC and Cara Paige of Cover Page Creative, were winners of a $1,000 grant to use as a business advancement resource.

Shoats said he realized that the cloud that most have hanging over them when it comes to getting financing has been daunting.

“I walked away from there feeling something had been lifted off me,” Shoats said.

“Despite being an African-American-owned business, there are companies out there that are willing to help us not only to secure financing but to help us to get our eggs in a row so that we could qualify for financing,” he said.

Said Paige, “This was a phenomenal inaugural event that provided a well-rounded look at capital for small businesses. I’m thankful for the grant,”

Aaron Jones, Treason Toting Company

Courtesy Photo

Aaron Jones, Treason Toting Company

Aaron Jones, co-founder of Treason Toting Company and Tammira Lucas, co-founder of Moms as Entrepreneurs encouraged the audience by telling their entrepreneurial journey. Their advice to start-up and seasoned business owners is to not give up on yourself, and to be sure to educate yourself about your business and how to run it effectively.

Tammira Lucas, Moms as Entrepreneurs

Courtesy Photo

Tammira Lucas, Moms as Entrepreneurs

The event also helped participants get acquainted with Lendistry and the Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development in Baltimore. serves as an online community lender for small businesses. The company facilitates the loan process by working in partnership with banks and social impactors, allowing them to provide the capital businesses need quickly, at responsible rates, they said.

Since 1998, the Center for Strategic Economic Studies and Institutional Development, Inc. has functioned as a think tank with the purpose of delivering charitable, educational, financial, technological, and holistic solutions for small businesses. Specifically, they listen to the underserved business communities’ voices, identify their needs, collaborate with service providers, and provide innovative education and solutions to these communities, officials said, noting they also act as a participating lender to foster growth for small businesses and their communities.

Sand’s organization has also been in business for nearly two decades assisting entrepreneurs and business owners.

“We are a community development financial institution with a mission to provide economic opportunities and progressive growth for small business owners and their underserved communities as a source of financing and financial education,” Sands said.

BGE Boss in Baltimore Wins Major Award

Calvin G. Butler Jr. called being recognized for his corporate and civic leadership across Baltimore and central Maryland a humbling experience.

However, the CEO of BGE, said the 2017 William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year honor he received at the Baltimore Museum of Industry during a fundraiser in June for educational programs, was more about BGE and it’s 3,200 employees than it was about him.

“I’m fortunate to work for a company and with people whose commitment to the community is unmatched,” said Butler who noted that, during 2016 alone, BGE employees logged more than 20,000 hours volunteering with nonprofits that serve the community.

He said BGE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion has resulted in the company meeting and exceeding its goal to allocate 25 percent of its spending to women, minority, disabled and veteran-owned companies.

“As CEO of a long standing organization, I take my responsibilities very seriously. BGE offered the platform and I’m working to use that platform to make a difference,” Butler said. “We are committed to being a good corporate citizen. This means that in addition to providing safe and reliable electricity and gas, BGE also supports non-profit organizations financially and through employee volunteerism and we also strive to protect and take great care of our environment.”

Butler added that BGE needs to be more than just an energy delivery company, but should do all it can to help lift up communities.

Officials noted that in 2016, BGE reached 27 percent, or more than $260 million spent with diverse suppliers.

“It’s a critical element to BGE’s long term and continued success. As a leader and as an organization we are very intentional about our efforts” Butler said. “We develop strategic plans to create a workforce that reflects the communities in which we serve.”

BGE also partnered with Johns Hopkins and other Baltimore institutions to launch BLocal, an effort to build, hire and buy locally and positively impact Baltimore’s economy. In less than a year, BGE and its parent company, Exelon, spent $75 million with Maryland companies including $43 million with city-based diverse businesses, officials noted in a news release.

“BLocal is indicative of the power of partnerships and collaboration. BGE, Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medical System co-founded BLocal so we could partner with 25 other organizations to build, hire and buy locally in order to lift the city and its people,” Butler said. “In 2016, BGE and Exelon spent $75 million dollars with Maryland companies and $43 million dollars with city-based diverse businesses. So, we’re well on our way with BLocal, however, there’s always more work to be done. Just as we think we’ve stretched as far as we can, we need to be inspired to reach even higher goals.”

The William Donald Schaefer Industrialist of the Year Award was introduced in 2004 to recognize and celebrate Maryland’s visionary business leaders distinguished by their innovative approaches to industry and dedication to the well-being of their communities.

Named in honor of the late Baltimore mayor and Maryland governor, the award is presented each spring at a luncheon held in the museum’s iconic Decker Gallery, among the museum’s exhibits and against the backdrop of the Inner Harbor.

“Baltimore possesses a spirit of innovation, hometown pride, and a fiercely independent quality. This museum wonderfully captures the artifacts and achievements that have been the product of that spirit,” Butler said. “It is fitting that the BMI is located at the Inner Harbor, which has been the center of Baltimore industry for hundreds of years,” he said.

City School students shine at STEM showcase

Arlington Elementary School students Tyreek Brown, Kaylen Randall, Aubrey Smith, Keith Stevenson, and their classmates identified a problem in their community and saw the evidence of it: Rats! To address the problem, they designed the inner workings of an electric rattrap.

To help them along the process, the 4th graders participated in an after-school STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program at their school, which met twice a week, three hours each day. The group participated in a six-month student-driven project to identify problems in their community – and came up with a solution. After months of learning, researching and understanding the engineering design process, the students presented their findings.

Students from 10 public schools participated in a STEM showcase at Johns Hopkins University’s Newton White Athletic Center, during the 4th quarter of the 2017-2018 school year. With over 60 different projects and nearly 600 attendees, the event celebrated the educational STEM achievements and student-driven projects during in-school lessons and after-school programs.

Baltimore City Councilman Leon F. Pinkett III (D. 7th district) was among the supporters at the event to see each invention.

Many of the students, including those at Arlington Elementary attended a previous STEM showcase and said they looked forward to participating in more events. In addition to developing the inner workings of an electric rattrap, students designed a poop-scooping robot, a portable shelter for the homeless and a trash truck with mechanical arms.

With the advancements of overlapping disciplines, STEM has opened up exciting career fields for elementary school students that were not around 15-20 years ago.

“We recognize the amount of time and support that’s required to spotlight the STEM projects of our SABES students and we applaud their achievements,” said Alisha N. Sparks, elementary school SABES program manager at Johns Hopkin University Whiting School of Engineering.

The National Science Foundation awarded a $7.4 million grant to Johns Hopkins University School of Engineering and Education in 2012. Sponsored by STEM Achievement in Baltimore Elementary Schools (SABES), a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools and Johns Hopkins University, SABES is a five-year grant funded program that culminated this year. Program organizers hope to bridge the gap and improve educational outcomes for nine targeted schools: Arlington Elementary/Middle School, Barclay Elementary/Middle School, Dallas F. Nicholas Sr. Elementary School, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary/School, Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#215), Highlandtown Elementary/Middle School (#237), John Ruhrah Elementary/Middle School, Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School and Pimlico Elementary/Middle School.

The program has impacted more than 2,200 Baltimore students and trained 147 STEM facilitators and teachers. Research suggests students who’ve participated in the STEM program display more confidence, greater analytical thinking and an increase interest in a STEM career. The number of students interested in becoming an engineer has increased by 27 percent as a result of the program.

“Watching the children develop into critical thinkers and asking thought-provoking questions proved they are engaged and interested in STEM careers,” said Martha Syed, a three-year STEM facilitator at John Ruhrah Elementary School and Arlington Elementary School. “Students become self-aware when they understand that STEM impacts their home life, school and community.”

The end-of year SABES STEM Showcase which incorporated the nine partner schools from three communities— Greater Homewood, Park Heights and Greektown/Highlandtown, according to Sparks. One of the organization’s goals is to expose the students to STEM careers so that they are globally competitive, be solution-oriented and have a greater understanding of the world.

“The SABES STEM Showcase is a visual reminder to our students that they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Sparks. “[And] shows students that everyone can succeed in STEM and bring innovative solutions to solve problems in their local communities.”

Sparks says the STEM Showcase dispelled the myth that it’s ‘uncool’ to be smart.

Entrepreneur’s Tech Tools

I know we’ve talked about security in this column before, but when a computer virus makes big international news, we need to bring up the topic again. Recently, the WannaCry virus led to a global pandemic of infected computer systems.

WannaCry is a ransomware virus, meaning that it holds the files on your computer system hostage. Some viruses threaten to delete your files unless you pay the hackers some amount of money, usually in BitCoins. Other viruses make your files inaccessible until you pay up.

Thanks to an observant system administrator, WannaCry’s kill switch was flipped, deactivating the virus before many corporations and governments were adversely affected. WannaCry was prolific, having infected over 120, 000 computer systems across the globe. After administrators inoculated their systems against WannaCry, Adylkuzz, another ransomeware virus, shortly appeared on the scene holding systems hostage once again.

There will always be computer viruses. Hackers create viruses for any number of reasons, but you can protect yourself against infection by being proactive with your company’s IT security, and being vigilant about defending yourself.

Why did WannaCry spread so quickly? Complacency. WannaCry and Adylkuzz affected Windows XP computers the most. If you are still using Windows XP stop. It’s time to upgrade. If you have to use Windows XP, turn on Windows Firewall. Taking this simple step would have prevented the WannaCry infection from taking root on so many systems.

The administrator who discovered WannaCry’s kill switch noticed that there was an unusual amount of traffic on his company’s web server. If you are using WordPress, or another content management system for your site, keep it up-to-date. Most ISPs do this for you, but if you manually installed WordPress be proactive about installing the most recent updates.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are always monitoring the health of their enterprises. Today, I’m adding one more indicator to keep an eye on—your computer systems’ health. WannaCry was detected and defeated because an administrator was paying attention to his systems. Make it a habit to periodically check your computer systems’ response rates, the number of files on disk, and memory usage. Viruses often times create new files and update old ones, which is a telltale sign of an infection. Performance indicators are readily available in Windows and Mac, and you can always ask your web host for this data on demand.

The only way you want to end up on the six o’clock news is for doing good in the community. Keep yourself out of the spotlight of infamy by periodically checking your servers, and keeping your systems up-to-date.

William Mapp is the CEO of Studio Codeworks, Inc. and author of the Small Business Owner’s Guide to Technology. You can purchase The Guide at You can send questions directly to Will at, and follow him on the social webs at

Entrepreneur’s Toolkit

Getting in the Game

I recall in primary school, I didn’t ask too many questions. However, as I matriculated to higher grades, I started asking questions like a reporter. Just like a fifth grader, to move you and your business forward, consider asking the right questions to the right people. Here are some keys to help you get started:

Got Questions What questions can I ask? Well, that depends on what you are trying to achieve. Since this is a business column, consider developing a set of questions that will help you with your self improvement and business growth. Once you have the questions, consider who you will ask the question to. Here are some questions to help you get started:

Self Improvement * What do you consider self improvement tools?

  • What events do you attend for self improvement?
  • What books are you reading or listening to now to help with your self improvement?

Do you have any certifications? Why did you select those certifications? Are you looking to get other certifications? * Tell me about your mentors in business. How did they come to be your mentor?

Business Development * What resources did you use to start your business?

  • How do you remain competitive?
  • What is your morning routine to get your day started?
  • Tell me about your mentors in business. How did they come to be your mentor?
  • What trends do you see in our industry? How do you stay abreast of new trends?
  • What books are you reading or listening to on business development?
  • What conferences do you attend?
  • Who do you bounce ideas off of?
  • What is your go to magazine?

Also, search out books like How Asking the Right Questions Can Help You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone to Find Success by Spider Graham to fine-tune your questions.

Resources to explore Put your questions to the test. Seek out individuals that will help you reach your personal and business goals. You can reach into your network, ask for introductions from other entrepreneurs, attend local and industry events.

Next step Now that you have this information, what action will you take. If you are ready to take action, create a growth journal. I would suggest using pen and paper for this exercise as it may be easier to refer to when needed. Instructions for your Growth journal include your skill development at the top of your paper, the name of the person who will be providing you with growth strategies, a date and his/her company. The rest is your conversation and growth tips. Here’s to improving and progressing!

Omar S. Muhammad is an EN-TRE-PRE-NEUR and is the director & entrepreneur for the Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center at Morgan State University.
You can reach him at

Epsilon Omega’s 5th Fabulous AKA Day at the Races

— On Sunday, May 28, 2017, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Epsilon Omega chapter and the Epsilon Omega Foundation hosted the 5th Annual AKA Day at the Races at Pimlico Race Course. The event boasted over 300 guests and included a lavish buffet brunch, a silent auction, a raffle, and live horse racing all in the name of charity.

This year, WBAL’s news anchor, Jason Newton, served as the guest emcee of the very popular “Hat-itude” contest where attendees donned beautiful hats and fascinators with gloves to complete the winning look.

“The Epsilon Omega chapter just celebrated its 95th Anniversary, and one of the first ways in which the charter members began giving back to the Baltimore City community was to establish a college scholarship fund. This event puts the fun in fundraising and supports the vision of our charter members by continuing to help students from our city go on to pursue their dreams of higher education. We are very proud that for 95 years our chapter has assisted students from our city in achieving their professional goals by awarding a four-year college scholarship to students who have gone on to become attorneys, doctors, professors, nurses and even a marine biologist,” said event Chairman Cylia Lowe-Smith, Esq. who created the event five years ago.

The event has grown every year and is a very popular component is the Epsilon Omega Scholarship Fund Raffle, which gives guests an opportunity to win great prizes for a great cause.

This year’s co-chair Shante Jones along with Erinn Gross and Tiffany Wallace added a silent auction that was very well received, and all the proceeds from the raffle and silent auction went to Scholarship Fund.

The success of this fundraiser is due in large part to the wonderful partnerships that have been established with local businesses such as Mano Swartz Furs, Charles “Chizel It” Harris, Basignani Winery, and Margie Hicks Custom Made Unique Hats; all have supported the Day at the Races with generous donations every year since its inception.

With the popularity of the event steadily increasing, growing year-after-year, this year’s affair again included guests from the Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia area along with guests from as far as New York, Pennsylvania and even Atlanta, making the 5th Annual event so popular it sold out weeks in advance!

There were also a number of very special guests such as the International Secretary of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Mrs. Charletta Wilson Jacks who served as the guest judge for the Hat-itude contest!

“Now more than ever is the time for a laser focus on increasing opportunities for excellence in education. The Epsilon Omega Foundation is to be applauded for accomplishing this task and hitting the bull’s-eye,” Jacks said.

In addition to hosting a current International Directorate member, several other former board members were in attendance to show support for this great cause, including: 27th North Atlantic Regional Director Regional Director, Erma Barron; the 29th North Atlantic Regional Director, C. Edith Booker; former International Secretary and current International Risk Management Chairman, Susan Simms Marsh; and former Undergraduate Member at Large and current North Atlantic Representative to the International Standards committee, Jacquie Jones.

“It was truly an honor to have so many current and former leaders in attendance.” Lowe-Smith remarked. “Alpha Kappa Alpha has grown to over 75,000 active members in 1,006 chapters throughout the world and to have the support of our leadership time and time again in our city is truly appreciated.”

Other noteworthy guests included: North Atlantic Representative to the International Membership Committee, Wanda King; North Atlantic Representative to the International Protocol Committee, April Hamilton; and the presidents of nine local AKA chapters.

The Epsilon Omega Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit and tax exempt, 501 (c) (3), corporation established to acquire resources to support and promote programs and services to meet the changing needs of citizens of the Baltimore metropolitan community.The Foundation was created and incorporated in 1991 with the mission to assist the Epsilon Omega chapter to meet the challenges of the community through service, education, and cultural development. For more information visit:

Fireworks & Festivities

— Featuring over 130 local and regional artists on July 2, 2017 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is free.

The perfect place to start celebrating America’s birthday is to spend the afternoon of July 2, 2017 at the First Sunday Arts festival in downtown Annapolis. The festival gives you the opportunity to shop and buy American made from local and regional artisans, listen to great local band and eat at the food trucks and cafes along West and Calvert Streets.

The popular First Sunday Arts festival brings thousands of locals and visitors out on the town to shop directly from local artisans in historic downtown Annapolis from over 130 local and regional artists and crafters selling their artwork. You will find artisans selling handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, clothing, handbags, wood turnings, furniture, sculpture, photography, paintings, garden art and more. This is the easiest and largest place to shop in the area for items hand made and made in the USA.

Performers throughout the festival will be showcasing live music at four free performance stages including, Weisman Park near the Visitors Center which is a good spot to relax in the shade, the main stage next to Stan and Joe’s Saloon, City Gate Park on the second block of West Street, and on Calvert Street in Whitmore Park.

The bands for July 2nd include Naked Jungle, Alex Peters, Dean Rosenthal, The Coteries, Mike Heuer and Priddy Music Academy Bands. Plus take a moment and make your own art hat as Tattered Hatters returns to the festival in Whitmore Park.

All the restaurants in the festival area will be setting up relaxing outdoor cafes along West Street and food trucks are on hand in Whitmore Park. Several of the restaurants will also be hosting entertainment indoors during and after the festival including Rams Head Tavern, 49 West Coffeehouse and Gallery, Tsunami, and Reynolds Tavern.).

The First Sunday Arts festivals are conveniently located in downtown Annapolis on West Street and Calvert Streets where parking is a breeze. There are several parking garages next to the festival and events including Whitmore Parking Garage and Gott’s Court Parking Garage both located along Calvert Street, and the Loews Hotel Parking Garage and Knighton Parking Garage located on West Street The Calvert Street Parking garage located at 19 St Johns Street has free parking all weekend and is located within a two block stroll from the First Sunday Arts festival.

Admission to the First Sunday Arts festivals is free, so bring your friends and family to spend a day out on the town. First Sunday Arts festivals for the 2017 season are on Sunday July 2, August 11, September 3, October 1, November 5 and a special bonus festival on Sunday December 3rd called the Annapolis Chocolate Binge Festival.

1031. WRNR to provide soundtrack for Annapolis 4th of July celebration Station to provide music and entertainment in place of Naval Academy Band

Annapolis, MD – June 23, 2017– 103.1 WRNR will take over the hosting duties at the 4th of July fireworks display in downtown Annapolis. The station will broadcast live, high above the City Dock, from their mobile, 30 foot high, WRNR Sky Box Studios. Starting at 8pm, WRNR will air a special holiday playlist , featuring RNRtists and special Red White and Blue songs, like Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen, American Girl by Tom Petty, Living in America by James Brown, & Lenny Kravitz’s American Woman, even Lee Greenwood’s, God Bless The USA.

Keeping with tradition, “Stars and Stripes Forever” will play at 9:15pm, signaling the countdown to the fireworks display, high above Annapolis Harbor. During the fireworks spectacular, WRNR will play a patriotic montage of music to accompany the dazzling fireworks display.

“When we heard, the Naval Academy Band, who traditionally performs, was unable to play this year, we knew we had to step up and commit the full musical resources of WRNR. The show must, and will go on” remarked 103.1 FM WRNR owner Steve Kingston.

Register at Red Hot and Blue of Annapolis (200 Old Mill Bottom Road) for a chance to win seats aboard the WRNR 30 Foot High Skybox, the best place to view the fireworks display. No purchase necessary.

If you’re unable to attend the party, tune into to WRNR at 103.1 FM, online at WRNR.COM, or download the “Tune In” app, to hear all the festivities at the City of Annapolis 4th of July Celebration.

For more information, please contact Robert Cardoni at 410-626-0103 or via email at

Courtesy Photo

Annapolis Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks

July 4, 2017 6:30pm

Annapolis, Maryland 21041

The Parade will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will travel along West Street, around Church Circle, and down Main Street to the City Dock.A 4th of July Fireworks display will be at 9:15 p.m. from a barge in Annapolis Harbor.

Baltimore’s Ports America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration July 4, 2017 7pm-10 pm

Inner Harbor

Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Commemorate Independence Day with live music and celebratory fireworks in the heart of downtown Baltimore. The event will showcase music by U.S. Navy Band starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater at Pratt and Light Streets. At 9:30 p.m., the multicolored fireworks show, choreographed to patriotic and contemporary music, can be viewed from several locations downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods of Federal Hill, Fell’s Point, Canton and Harbor East. In case of severe weather, the fireworks show would take place July 5, 2017. 410-752-8632.

Catonsville’s Independence Day Celebration July 4, 2017

Catonsville, Maryland 21043

This all-day, fun-filled Catonsville tradition features children’s games, races, and concerts starting at 9:30 a.m. The 69th Annual Grand Parade is so popular, residents often set out chairs in advance along the route on Frederick Road. The Parade steps off at 3:00 p.m. Called “The best fireworks display in the region” begin at 9:15 p.m. at Catonsville High School. Fireworks Rain Date is July 8, 2017. 443-840-9574

Independence Day Fireworks Cruise July 4, 2017 7:30-11pm Spirit of Baltimore (ship) Inner Harbor Baltimore, Maryland 21202 Baltimore City

Enjoy front-row Fireworks, Baltimore’s ultimate July 4th experience! Splash aboard Spirit Cruises and get front-row seats to Baltimore’s spectacular fireworks show. The Inner Harbor has never looked so stunning beneath the illuminated night sky. Celebrate America’s birthday this 4th of July with a premium bar package, festive buffets and interactive DJ Entertainment. There’s no better place to celebrate than out on the water with Spirit! 410-727-3113 800-695-BOAT

July 4th Fest Six Flags America

July 2-4, 2017

13710 Central Avenue,

Bowie, Anne Arundel County

Celebrate the independence of our country with three jam-packed days of thrills and water park fun on Fourth of July Weekend at Six Flags America. There will be fireworks and live entertainment every night.

Star-Spangled Spectacular July 3, 2017

Oregon Ridge Park

13401 Beaver Dam Road, Hunt Valley

Celebrate Independence Day with the BSO at Oregon Ridge and enjoy great music and jaw-dropping fireworks! BSO Associate Conductor Nicholas Hersh leads the orchestra in patriotic scores like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” alongside family favorites from Bruce Springsteen, Beauty and the Beast and more! Enjoy food trucks on site serving up great local eats. Gates open at 5 pm. All tickets are general admission, lawn seating. Concertgoers are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnics.

Event tickets available online. Tickets will also be available at the door. Rain date is July 4, 2017.

Towson Fourth of July Parade July 4, 2017 10:30 A.M.-12:30 P.M.

Towsontown Blvd & Bosley Ave

Towson, Maryland 21285

Celebration of America’s birthday with bands, clowns, marching units and military.


Fireworks Over The Bay July 2, 2017, 9:20 p.m. Rain Date July 3, 2017

The Town of Chesapeake presents “Fireworks Over The Bay” before Independence Day. You and your guests are invited to take a walk on the Bay Front Boardwalk, search for sharks’ teeth at Bay Front Park, and visit the nature-filled scenic “Railway Trail.” The water park is open until 9:30 p.m. and offers a fun and unique way to enjoy the annual fireworks display!

4th of July Celebration July 4, 2017 8-10 pm

Ocean City, Maryland 21842

Enjoy a free concert at 8 p.m., followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m. downtown on the beach at North Division Street and simultaneously, uptown at 125th Street at Northside Park. For more information, please call 1-800-626-2326 or the Ocean City Department of Recreation & Parks at 410-250-0125. OC will host fireworks every Monday and Tuesday (time TBA) from July 10 to Sep 4, 2017. Fireworks will be visible along the boardwalk.

July 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 31

August 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29

September 4

Celebrate Independence Day with the Bowie Baysox

Bowie, Md.- The Bowie Baysox will hold their annual Independence Day Celebration on Tuesday, July 4, when the team hosts the Hartford Yard Goats at 6:35 p.m. The event features the finest fireworks display in the region following the game, presented by Whole Foods Market.

Fans will be able to enter the stadium at 5:00 p.m. when the gates open to the public. Those with tickets to the Baysox game are invited out early to secure parking close to the stadium and beat the Independence Day crowds.

Indoor Climate Controlled Seating Available: The Baysox are offering fans the opportunity to purchase indoor, climate controlled seating for the July 4th game in the stadium’s Diamond View Restaurant. A limited number of these tickets remain available and these tickets must be purchased in advance online at or by calling 301.464.4865.

Independence Day BBQ Event: Fans can choose to enjoy the Baysox Game, postgame fireworks and a two hour all you can eat picnic buffet including BBQ Ribs, Country Fried Chicken, Grilled All Beef Hot Dogs, Corn on the Cob, BBQ Baked Beans, Kettle Chips, Cole Slaw, Home Style Potato Salad, Chilled Watermelon, Ice Cream Cups, plus Pepsi Beverages, Iced Tea and Lemonade. Tickets are limited for the picnic and must be purchased in advance. Those interested in the BBQ event can call 301-464-4890. Tickets for the BBQ must be purchased no later than 3:00 p.m. on June 28.

Our Children Deserve High Quality Teachers

I am a native Washingtonian. I still live on the same street that my parents brought me home to 50 plus years ago. I am a product of D.C. public schools. I began my education prior to integration. I was taught by, in my opinion, the best-prepared teachers in the city. I remember that most of my teachers had masters’ or doctorate degrees and they taught in the field in which they earned their degree. They were highly qualified, dedicated, and allowed no child to be left behind. The principal knew every student by name. She knew our strengths and weaknesses. She made sure that her teachers addressed the individual challenges of each student. I left public school well prepared to face the world.

Through the years, I have witnessed many changes in both education and community. I have watched my neighborhood demographic change from middle class black families, to a neighborhood where drug use, unemployment, and the lack of marketable skills has resulted in random acts of violence. Today, my neighborhood is nearly unrecognizable due to gentrification. However, my immediate concern is not growing property taxes or well-intentioned, but ill-informed redevelopment projects. My immediate concern is for the children in my neighborhood, right now; the children struggling to succeed in a rapidly changing environment and an ineffective education system; children who are taught by teachers, who do not relate to their personal struggles and lack the skillset to respond to their individualized needs.

The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) addressed many of my concerns in education. The National News Papers Association (NNPA) continues to echo the message that giving parents a voice in how the school system operates is vital to closing the achievement gap. It’s critical that parents engage with educational leaders and demand equal access to high quality teachers. Unfortunately, high poverty schools are disproportionally staffed by unprepared, substitute, and out-of-field teachers. Although, there are numerous causes for this phenomenon, the fact remains that, ill-prepared teachers undermine student achievement.

According to an article by Emma Garcia published by the Economic Policy Institute, about eight in 10 poor black students attend high poverty schools. Garcia found that 81 percent of poor, black children attend high poverty schools compared to 53.5 percent of their poor white peers. It is also noted that attending a high poverty school lowers math and reading achievement for students in all racial and ethnic groups. These discrepancies in access to adequate education expand into discrepancies in economic prospects and social mobility.

ESSA requires states and districts to ensure that low-income students and students of color are not disproportionally taught by ineffective, inexperienced and out-of-field teachers. ESSA requires state and school district report cards to include the percentage of inexperienced teachers, principals, and other school leaders; teachers with emergency or provisional credentials; and out-of-field teachers. Reporting this data provides states with the comparative data necessary to examine the root causes of inequities. Title II of ESSA provides program grants to states and districts that can be used for teacher preparation, recruitment, support, and continued learning. ESSA changes the distribution formula for funds by requiring that any increase in funding is prioritized to states with high rates of students living in poverty. ESSA has ended the requirement of states to set up teacher evaluation systems based significantly on students’ test scores. Growing evidence suggests that using student test scores to determine teacher effectiveness is misguided and does not improve instructional practices. ESSA includes a Teacher and School Leader Innovation Program that will provide grants to districts that want to try out performance pay and other teacher quality improvement measures.

At some point, we must stop treating our children like widgets. They won’t all fit into a round hole; some of them are square pegs. They all have gifts and talents, but it is difficult to realize potential with a rotating door of teachers and school leaders. The cuts in the federal education budget have targeted teacher training and professional development. We owe our children the best education possible. They are our future.

Together, we can fulfill the promise of ESSA and ensure that every student succeeds.

Learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act at

Lynette Monroe

Courtesy Photo

Lynette Monroe

Lynette Monroe (contributed to this article.)

Dr. Elizabeth Primas is an educator, who spent more than 40 years working towards improving education for children of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. Dr. Primas is the program manager for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Dr. Primas on Twitter @elizabethprimas.

Lynette Monroe is a master’s student at Howard University. Her research area is public policy and national development. Ms. Monroe is the program assistant for the NNPA’s Every Student Succeeds Act Public Awareness Campaign. Follow Lynette Monroe on Twitter @_monroedoctrine.

Rambling Rose


Hello everyone, hopefully you are enjoying this beautiful weather we are having. No complaints from me! I know it has been a little windy and a little humid, but look at the other places in the world; East Coast, some on the West Coast and overseas. Honey child we are blessed, so stop complaining and enjoy.

We have some fantastic concerts going on all over Baltimore, as well as the counties in Maryland and most of them are free. The festivals are just unbelievable fun, entertaining, educational and so enjoyable. The best of the best musicians are performing at all of them.

Aaron Seeber Quintet with Tim Green on sax, Tom Williams on trumpet, Allyn Johnson  on keyboards and Eliot Seppa on bass will be performing at Caton Castle, 20 S. Caton Avenue on Saturday, July 8 from 6-10 p.m.

Courtesy Photo

Aaron Seeber Quintet with Tim Green on sax, Tom Williams on trumpet, Allyn Johnson on keyboards and Eliot Seppa on bass will be performing at Caton Castle, 20 S. Caton Avenue on Saturday, July 8 from 6-10 p.m.

The “Liberty Live outdoor Concert

Series” takes place every Friday until the end of July at the Kings Point Square Shopping Center, 9900 Liberty Road in Randallstown, Maryland from 6-9 p.m. with all kinds of vendors; food trucks, jewelry, clothing, book signing, ice cream, arts & crafts, drinks and lots of live entertainment. Our buddy, DJ Mike Jones keeps the music going on the breaks. Last Friday, hundreds of festivals goers were there with their folding chairs and umbrellas enjoying the festival.

Coming up is the very popular adult DipNic Festival hosted by the Faisonian Club including CH Productions on Saturday, July 8 (rain or shine) from 12 noon until 8 p.m., located at the Elks Camp Barrett, 1001 Chesterfield Road, Crownsville, Maryland. I have been going to this event almost 25 years of the 31 years that the founder, Charles “Rudy” Faison started this fantastic event and honey child! It gets better and better each year. Take your swimwear, jazz concert gear, you know what I mean. You can also bring your canopy and set it up, folding chairs, sun umbrella, table cloth, charcoal, BYOB and BYOF. There will be many, many vendors including myself, I will be doing my book signings.

Druid Hill Farmers Market every Wednesday from 3-7 p.m. They have fresh baked goods, jam, local eggs, fresh prepared foods, crafts and a full schedule of programming, including live music. This is in Druid Hill Park adjacent to Rawlings Conservatory, 3100 Swann Drive. Take your folding chairs and enjoy.

Courtesy Photo

Druid Hill Farmers Market every Wednesday from 3-7 p.m. They have fresh baked goods, jam, local eggs, fresh prepared foods, crafts and a full schedule of programming, including live music. This is in Druid Hill Park adjacent to Rawlings Conservatory, 3100 Swann Drive. Take your folding chairs and enjoy.

Girlfriend! The live entertainment will blow your mind, there will be two groups performing as well as DJ Tony spinning some dance music between band breaks. By the way, leave your dogs, cats and children at home, it is strictly for adults and it is enforced at the gate. For ticket information, call

Faison at 443-801-1100 or call my girl Millie Battle at 410-448-0033. I will see you there.

“All You Can Eat Seafood Feast” hosted by Prince Hall Grand Lodge honoring the widows of the MWPHGL of Maryland will be held at the Patapsco Arena 3301 Annapolis Road in Baltimore on Sunday, July 9 from 2-6 p.m. The buffet menu is awesome and the crabs, well what can I say? They have always been good. For tickets call 410-669-4966 or 410-669-2372and tell them “Rambling Rose” told you.

The International African Arts Festival is Saturday, July 1 in Brooklyn, New York with over 200 vendors, musical artists, fashion show, showing of original artwork, international food choices, hair braiding, roundtrip transportation, on board films, and a lot more. You have to bring your folding chairs or any portable seating, bus leaves Baltimore at 9 a.m. and return to Baltimore at 9:30 p.m. For more information, call 410-385-9532 or 410-728-0877.

Well, my dear friends, I have a lot more to tell you, but I am out of space. Remember, if you need me, call me at 410-833-9474 or email me at UNTIL THE NEXT TIME, I’M MUSICALLY YOURS

Ravens RB Danny Woodhead proves big things come in small packages

The Baltimore Ravens needed to add a jolt to their offense after losing Steve Smith Sr. last season. Other than Mike Wallace, the team lacked a playmaker on offense.

Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome signed veteran running back Danny Woodhead to a three-year, $8 million contract during the free agency period. Woodhead is coming off of an ACL tear that cost him all of the 2016 season with the San Diego Chargers.

Woodhead, a 5-foot-8, 217-pound running back, is looking forward to a fresh start in Baltimore and wants to put his injury behind him.

“It is definitely a fresh start with a new team. As far as the ACL, I have not really thought about it,” Woodhead said at a press conference before wrapping up minicamp. “I am out there trying to compete and trying to win. If I have a route called or if I am supposed to pass protect, I am going out there to win. If I am thinking about the past, I do not think that helps me win.”

Woodhead broke into the NFL with the New York Jets after going undrafted out of Chadron State in 2008. He missed all of his rookie season due to injury and played sporadically in 2009 before being released by the Jets in 2010.

The New England Patriots signed Woodhead, and he eventually took over as their primary third-down back. He had a touchdown catch which was the first score of Super Bowl XLVI. That Patriots team went undefeated before losing to the New York Giants by a score 21 – 17.

Woodhead went on to sign with the Chargers in 2013 and put up a career year. He led all NFL running backs with six touchdown receptions and was second with 76 catches for 605 yards in the regular season. He also had 106 carries for 429 yards, averaging 4.0 yards per attempt. His overall totals were 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns.

It has been a couple of seasons since Woodhead was able to put up solid numbers, but he is ready to get back on track in his new city.

“Everywhere is a fresh start, because it is new coaches, new people, new teammates. That is always good, but I am just excited about the guys that I am playing with and working with and the staff,” Woodhead explained. “I think we have an opportunity to have a good team. This is a different than San Diego, a little different than New England, [different] than New York [Jets] – my first team.”

Woodhead will be a change of pace from the punishing, straightforward running style that Terrance West presents. He gives them another option in the passing game as well.

Although they were only in helmets, shorts, and t-shirts, West was impressed with Woodhead after OTAs and minicamp.

“Danny is explosive, man. He’s a great back coming out of the backfield. The film doesn’t lie; he does it,” said West.

Woodhead isn’t the biggest player, but he is expected to give the Ravens offense a huge boost.