Lillie May Carroll Jackson Middle School gets brand new home


Monica Mitchell remembers well the privilege she enjoyed while attending an all-girls private school as a child growing up in Baltimore.

Mitchell, who leads the Maryland Wells Fargo Foundation which is dedicated to improving the community through corporate philanthropy combined with volunteer service, has parlayed that privilege into a life of service throughout Baltimore where she serves on the boards of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, the Eddie and Sylvia C. Brown Family Foundation, and recently named to the boards of Associated Black Charities and Baltimore Community Lending.

A founding member of the United Way Emerging Leaders United Program to promote the professional development and community involvement of our next generation of leaders, Mitchell spearheaded the opening of the Lillie May Carroll Jackson School for girls five years ago.

Today, Mitchell says she is proud to announce the purchase of a new building to house the charter school, which should help continue its mission of creating an experiential learning community for Baltimore City girls.

“We will move into the building [at 2200 Sinclair Lane] in August or September, in time for the new school year,” Mitchell said.

Currently, the school is located at 900 Woodburne Avenue.

“Last week, we closed on the former [Laurence G.] Paquin School for Pregnant Teenagers on Sinclair Lane and we’re now the owners and operator of a new building,” said Mitchell, the founding president of the school board.

The history of the new site isn’t lost on Mitchell. The former Paquin School was “so important and revolutionary because its existence acknowledged that investing in a girl’s education can change the trajectory for future generations,” she said. “We are excited to continue the rich history of ensuring that girls are loved, supported and educated within its walls.”

Because the building sat vacant for several years, it has been subjected to vandalism and some environmental abatement needs to occur. The renovation will include updates that will provide a 21st century learning environment for girls, and a community resource to the surrounding neighborhood as a part of the East Baltimore Revitalization Project Master Plan.

Mitchell says that a committee of board members, community leaders and volunteers are in the midst of a capital campaign in an effort to secure the $4.5 million necessary to renovate and sustain the long-term growth of the school.

“I am particularly invested in identifying strategies that will increase our African-American donor base,” she said, adding that closer to the end of construction, the committee hopes to engage volunteers and others who are interested in opportunities for murals, landscaping and beautification.

“In addition to bringing an educational asset to the community, we are also an important part of the neighborhood revitalization work that’s happening,” Mitchell said.

Five years ago, Wells Fargo afforded Mitchell four months of paid leave so that she could work on the organizational development of the school. She credits the banking industry giant, who has been a partner in many successful Baltimore initiatives, with the school’s success.

“I think it’s important because had they not given me that critical time off, we never really would have been able to get the school off the ground,” Mitchell said, adding that the time also allowed for the hiring of staff members including a principal and the recruitment of students.

“Now, we are in a position with the building acquisition to do more and what Wells Fargo did was demonstrate that if more companies invest in their employees in this way, we can do some pretty incredible things in Baltimore,” she said.

Wells Fargo also made a financial contribution in recognition of Mitchell’s role, work and commitment to the school, which also received contributions from other foundations and corporations including Legg Mason, Under Armour, Charles T. Bauer Foundation, Jane Egenton Foundation, France Merrick, The Middendorf Fund and a loan guarantee from the Abell Foundation.

The school also has received operating support from Royal Bank of Canada, Brown Capital Management, The Eddie and Sylvia Brown Foundation, and numerous individuals.

For Mitchell, it’s all about giving back.

“I attended Roland Park Country School, a private school in Baltimore. I was privileged to attend,” Mitchell said.

“But, not every girl in Baltimore has access to those resources and that level of education. I was born and raised in Baltimore and it’s important for me that every girl does have those resources and opportunities to succeed,” she said. “I felt this school was my responsibility, and a chance to pay forward my incredible education and experience.”