ReBUILD Metro’s story began with one of East Baltimore’s greatest tragedies: the 2002 firebombing murder of Oliver community leader Angela Dawson and her five children. In response, the pastors and congregations of local BUILD-affiliated churches resolved not to let the family die in vain and committed to rebuilding Oliver and other long-distressed neighborhoods in East Baltimore. The church leaders connected with the Reinvestment Fund, a national leader in community reinvestment, and invited them to Baltimore to explore how they could rebuild East Baltimore together.
In 2006, the two groups partnered to form TRF Development Partners (TRF DP). TRF DP’s founding purpose was to resolve the blight and abandonment that had long plagued Oliver by undermining the health and safety of local residents and by stripping the neighborhood of resources and investments. Without tools to overcome this abandonment, the community had no pathway from its cycle of poverty and into a future of greater opportunity and stability.
Over the next ten years, we leveraged over $100 million in investment to remediate almost 500 vacant properties and lots into a network of new homes, storefronts, and greenspaces. Through these investments, we reduced vacancy by 90% in our first investment area of Oliver and Broadway East and by 75% in nearby Greenmount West, catalyzing a rate of change and regrowth in these two communities over the past decade that has been virtually unparalleled in Baltimore. In 2017, we became an independent nonprofit, changed our name to ReBUILD Metro, and affirmed our long-term commitment to replicating this success in other areas of East Baltimore and beyond.
In 2015, we expanded our model to Johnston Square, a long-struggling community between our first two investment areas with a growing number of assets and a strong network of dedicated residents. We are now working with our public, private, and community partners to transform Johnston Square into a thriving and income-diverse neighborhood that changes the lives of new and legacy residents alike—and can serve as a model for Baltimore’s regeneration.