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Maryland Film Festival highlights movies with Baltimore ties

Baltimore’s underground band scene and city kids on dirt bikes are among the themes featured in movies with local ties at this year’s Maryland Film Festival. Taking place May 8-12, the festival will host 50 features and 80 short films.
The following movies have local ties:
•  Matthew Porterfield’s “I Used to Be Darker,” which was filmed in Hamilton, Roland Park and Ocean City and has won festival awards in Nashville and Buenos Aires;
• “Hit & Stay,” which tells the story of priests and nuns in Catonsville who challenged U.S. intervention in Vietnam;
• “12 O’Clock Boys,” a documentary about a Baltimore dirt-bike rider, which just won the HBO Emerging Artist Award;
• “If We Shout Loud Enough,” a movie on Baltimore’s underground music scene and the band Double Dagger; and,
• “I Am Divine,” a documentary on the legendary drag icon that features interviews with John Waters.
The film festival added an extra day of movies in response to demand from the audience, says Maryland Film Festival Director Jed Dietz. Many people were turned away from films they wanted to see so festival organizers added more screening times.
Gabriel DeLoach, one of the filmmakers behind “If We Shout Loud Enough,” says the movie highlights the great music coming out of Baltimore.
“There’s a lack of cutthroat-ness and everyone is really encouraging of one another. There’s all these opportunities for musicians to put themselves out there.”
DeLoach lives in Charlottesville and became familiar with Double Dagger and other bands while attending the Maryland Institute College of Art. The band will be present for a Q&A after its Saturday evening screening. 

Says DeLoach, "It's a film made in Baltimore about one of Baltimore's best bands, so I think its only fitting that it screens there."

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Jed Dietz, Maryland Film Festival; Gabriel DeLoach

Abell Foundation Funds Community College Scholarships

Baltimore City Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County are initiating new scholarship programs this fall semester thanks to grants from The Abell Foundation. The scholarships are open to 75 low-income graduates of Baltimore City public high schools at BCCC and at CCBC each.
The Abell Foundation grants of $218,000 to each school establishes the BCCC Aspiring Scholars program and the CCBC Strive For Excellence program, according to Stan Brown, BCCC’s dean of special projects and Hope Davis, CCBC’s director of media relations.
Both programs are one-year pilot programs that provide stipends of up to $1,000 per student per semester for a total of 150 qualifying students. The scholarships are performance-based, meaning that students must maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average each semester.
The BCCC and CCBC programs are modeled after similar community college programs in other states, where they have proven successful in encouraging students to stay in school.
Over the summer, BCCC actively recruited students for the program via its website, mailings and social media. BCCC has so far awarded scholarships to close to 60 students, with the remainder to be awarded in the spring semester.
Brown says students can renew their scholarships each semester, up to three continuous semesters. The program is to full- and part-time students, who may enroll in either a certificate or an associate degree program.
Brown says The Abell Foundation approached Dr. Carolane Williams, BCCC president, with the program. Over the past two years, BCCC has increased foundation and corporate funding support by 49 percent, and increased student graduation by 28 percent over the same period.
Both BCCC and CCBC have hired a full-time academic advisor to oversee their programs and to mentor the students who receive the scholarships so they can maintain the stipends.
Sources: Stan Brown, Baltimore City Community College; Hope Davis, Community College of Baltimore County
Writer: Barbara Pash

National Endowment of the Arts Awards Grants to Station North Artists

Station North Arts & Entertainment, Inc. announced the third, and final, round of projects to receive funding for its “Think Big” initiative, which helps artists and musicians advance their projects.  

Station North, at 1800 North Charles St., received a total of $42,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

"A lot of projects are done on a small budget of $100 or so. With the funding, we could give them $1,000 or so and get to the next level," says Station North Project Manager Rebecca Chan. 

Chan says the funding was about evenly split among the three rounds. A panel of judges chose the winners, aiming for a mix of performing arts, visual arts and community outreach in each of the rounds. "Think Big" funding started in October 2011 and, as word got out, Station North received an increasing number of proposals from which to choose. 

Judging from the first two rounds, "Think Big" also succeeded in bringing more people to Station North and its venues. "We had great audiences at all the events," says Chan. "There was an increasing level of energy and activities."

Ben Stone, executive director of the community-based nonprofit, says more than 40 applications were received for the third round. "A lot of the [grant recipients], like theater companies and dance companies, have regular events so people can come back again,” says Stone. “More and more people see Station North as a destination.”
He says winners highlight the artistic talent and diverse venues in the Station North District. They include:

“Vacation,” works by 11 artists, curated by Elena Johnston, at the Pent House Gallery in Station North District, through August 30.

“Submit 10 Baltimore,” created/produced by Rachel Hirshorn, writers present short segments of current works, Monday evenings at Liam Flynn's Ale House.

Mosaic Makers’ mural at 201 E. North Ave., site of Project PLASE’s men’s shelter.  

“Akimbo,” professional dance series organized by Nicole Martinelli and Sidney Pink, on Aug. 31, Sept. 15 and Sept. 19 at Station North.

“New Lens” video screening and panel discussion about youth employment, Sept.29, 10:30 a.m. at Charles Theatre.

”A Drop of Water” by Sarah Doherty, sculptural transformation of a vacant lot on the 2100 block of Charles St.

Hosted at the The Load of Fun/Gallery, “Speaking” with Johanna Drucker, lecture, workshop and exhibition on weekend of Sept. 7 and 8.

Baltimore Rock Opera Society “Pitch Party II,” vote on next productions, Sept. 29.

High Zero Foundation/The Red Room Collective screening of experimental film and video, 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Charles Theatre.

Organized Sky Space Project’s Nights Lights, star-gazing and arts event, organized by Rachel London, 9 p.m. on Aug. 24 and Sept. 7.

Source: Ben Stone and Rebecca Chan, Station North Arts & Entertainment
Writer: Barbara Pash

Second Annual Hackathon To Offer More Cash Prizes

Geeks get their day once again at Baltimore's 2nd annual Hackathon. The event promises to be bigger, better and, most importantly, more lucrative than the first hackathon, held in 2010.

Described as a "high-tech science fair," the original hackathon attracted hobbyists, students and professional programmers who, in a couple of days, were supposed to take their tech idea from concept to creation. Ideas ranged from software handling organizational systems to transcription service. 

The same format applies to the 2nd Hackathon, which runs from June 8 at 6 p.m. through June 10 at 6 p.m. at the headquarters of Advertising.com, located at 1020 Hull St. in the Locust Point neighborhood. 

"We're trying to make it an annual event. The idea is for people to come together and [during those three days] work on projects that are technical in nature, either software or hardware,” says organizer Jason Denney, a member of Baltimore Node, a member-run space for hacker space.

There are hackathons all over the country. Since the first Baltimore hackathon, says Denney, two more sponsors have been added to the original five. This has enabled the organizers to add more prize money. This year's sponsors are Northrop Grumman, Looking Glass, Advertising.com, Paypal, Code for America, smart logic and Thunderbolt Labs. 

At the first event, a prize was given for best overall hardware or software project, team or individual. This year, there will still be a best overall hardware or software prize. But, in addition, there will be prizes for smart design, most difficult technology, aesthetics and public service project. Winners in each category will receive a $600 cash prize.

Organizers are hoping to increase attendance from the original event's 70 people to 100. Denney says anyone can register and compete for the prizes. Registration and tickets are online. A nominal fee covers entrance, food and a T-shirt. 

Source: Jason Denney, 2nd annual Hackathon
Writer: Barbara Pash

Loyola Teams With California VC Firm to Fund Startups

Loyola University Maryland is partnering with a California venture capital firm to fund new startups and help grow existing businesses in the Govans area of York Road. Loyola and Wasabi Ventures formed a business accelerator with an office in Govans, a neighborhood in Baltimore City.

Karyl Leggio, dean of Loyola’s Sellinger School of Business and Management, says the accelerator will help revitalize the nearby York Road business corridor.

Leggio says the university bought and renovated a two-story building in Govans that is serving as the local office of Wasabi Ventures and out of which the accelerator is operating. Loyola University faculty are offering advice on business plans and marketing. About 20 Loyola students per semester serve as interns at the accelerator.

Wasabi Ventures was co-founded by T.K. Kuegler, general partner and a Loyola graduate. Wasabi is providing professional staff to manage the accelerator. Through Wasabi Ventures and its partnering organizations, funding is available for startups companies, although funding amounts have not yet been established.

Leggio said funding would be based on the level of need. She said, for example, that Loyola has funded student ideas up to $25,000 in cash and services. However, startups and businesses that use the business accelerator may need more funding than that.

Leggio said that the accelerator is interested in technology concepts and startup companies that want advice and assistance to reach the development stage, as well as existing companies in the area that want to grow.

The accelerator is starting with seven staffers, and Leggio says it may hire additional staff as the need arises.

“We are looking to help any kind of business that is willing to locate in the Govans/York Road area, not necessarily technology,” she says.
Source: Karyl Leggio, Dean of Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola University Maryland
Writer: Barbara Pash

Event Poses the Question: What if Baltimore Were a Startup?

In a January opinion piece in TechCrunch, entrepreneur Jon Bischke suggested the most successful urban leaders are those who view cities like startups. CEOs for Cities (http://www.ceosforcities.org), a national network of urban leaders dedicated to creating next generation cities, will examine that premise at its 2012 Spring National Meeting: The City As a Startup -- Creating Demand, Attracting Talent, Taking Risks and Going to Scale.
The meeting is set for May 17-18 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati and is supported by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation. Former AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case will deliver the morning keynote and also sit on a panel conservation about Startup America. 
CEOs for Cities will also release its latest City Vitals report, a framework for measuring the success of cities. Other panels include considering Songdo, South Korea as the planet's smartest city and using the collective impact approach to catalyze social change. There will also be opportunities to tour Cincinnati attractions and examples of success.
Register here. View a draft agenda here

UMd. Launches New Econ Degree For Working Professionals

The University of Maryland has begun a new master’s degree program in applied economics for working professionals looking to advance their careers. The program is designed to train people in the economic analysis of policy issues.
After completing core courses, students choose a specialty in environment economics, health economics, law economics, marketing design and game theory, and program analysis and evaluation, says Marianne Ley Hayek, executive director of professional masters programs at the University of Maryland College Park’s department of economics.
“Any government agency increasingly has to justify and measure results,” says Hayek.
The program is designed to be convenient for working professionals. Classes are held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., near a metro stop. Classes are offered in the evenings and are taught by people with “real-life experience,” she says.
The first class in the program enrolled 25 students. Hayek expects the program to grow but class size will be kept small.  
Candidates for the program must have a bachelor of arts degree, taken two economic courses during their undergraduate years and meet other requirements. The 15-month-long program consists of 10 courses, at a fee of $2,750 per course. There is no difference in the fee for in-state and out-of-state students. The University of Maryland issues the diploma.
The fall 2012 program is accepting online registration by June 1.

Source: Mariane Ley Hayek, executive director of professional masters programs, University of Maryland, College Park department of economics
Writer: Barbara Pash

Hagerstown Community College Opening $25M Science and Tech Center

Hagerstown Community College, in Washington County, is turning itself in the high tech center of Western Maryland. Next month, the college will open a $25 million complex that includes the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Building, laboratories and a classroom building.
The new STEM building will house the college’s biotechnology, alternative energy technology, cybersecurity, math and engineering degree programs. In the fall the college will begin offering its science classes online, and is in the process of getting approval for online degree programs.
The college campus is also the site of the Technical Innovation Center, a self-sustaining entity that promotes technology development and the creation of technology jobs in the area.
Toxpath Specialists, a toxicological pathology firm, is the latest graduate of the Technical Innovation Center. It left the business incubator this year for commercial space, creating 10 new jobs in the county’s biotechnology community.
P. Chris Marschner, manager of the Technical Innovation Center, says the center currently houses 15 companies, among them medical software, wireless technology, biotechnology and cybersecurity. Since the center began in 1994, 50 to 60 startups have graduated, creating a total of over 400 jobs in the Western Maryland region.
Sources: Elizabeth Stull, Hagerstown Community College; P. Chris Marschner, Technical Innovation Center
Writer: Barbara Pash

Education Company Adding More than 100 Jobs

Learn It Systems, an educational systems developer based in Owings Mills, is planning to hire more than 100 educational professionals to staff its services in the Baltimore area.

The employment growth stems from new contracts with public and private schools to provide educational services. The company currently serves 30,000 children in around 1500 schools and online, in more than 200 school districts, and across 37 states, with 160 full-time employees and 6000 part-time teachers, paraprofessionals, and aides.
Learn It wants to hire individuals with certification in teaching, speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy, counseling services, and speech-language evaluation to fill part-time and full-time slots.

“Baltimore is becoming a sort of Silicon Valley for the for-profit education sector,” says Learn It Systems CEO Michael Maloney.
“You can flex up and down based on the case load you desire. If you’re a certified therapist, we may assign you in the state you currently reside in, or to work from home with a student that lives in another state. We’ll work through and support that certification process,” Maloney says.
Many hired individuals will work in summer school, and others will help Learn It pilot an online speech therapy platform.
Interested education professionals should contact Learn It Systems via their website: Learn It Systems Join Our Team.

Writer: Sam Hopkins
Source: Michael Maloney, Learn It Systems
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