AMBIT US study visit 2011

5 Apr 2011     Last updated: 20 Jun 2014

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is set to lead a high level Trade Delegation to Northern Ireland. He was elected Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association on the back of his decisive re-election in November as Governor of Maryland.

A meeting with Governor O’Malley was one port of call for a study visit by community leaders from Northern Ireland to see how he has led economic and social regeneration in his State.

The Northern Ireland group visited almost 30 organisations in Baltimore, Washington DC and Philadelphia to meet inspiring organisations in the US not-for-profit sector and City Government working to improve the lives of disadvantaged communities.

In Baltimore the group heard from the East Baltimore Development Inc www.ebdi.org an organisation established to help redevelop one of the City’s most difficult neighbourhoods; also visited was Operation Safe Streets www.baltimorehealth.org/safestreets.html a voluntary organisation successfully tackling gang violence in Baltimore.

The group had a whole host of visits in Washington DC with organisations like Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative www.fsfsc.org which is working in historic Anacostia, and Life Pieces to Masterpieces www.lifepieces.org but the big story in DC was that four members of the group were selected to attend President Obama’s St Patrick’s Day reception in the White House and met the President himself.

In Philadelphia another series of visits and meetings started at the Welcoming Center www.welcomingcenter.org/ an organisation set up by Irishwoman Ann O’Callaghan to help Philadelphia’s new immigrants connect with jobs and the economy. The organisation helps Philadelphia’s new citizens get off to a better start giving assistance to the natural entrepreneurial nature of migrants. The study visit finished with a meeting at the Reinvestment Fund www.trfund.com an organisation that provides capital on a loan basis to disadvantaged areas to promote development.

The study visit was a whirlwind tour of three cities engaging with inspiring people and organisations that are confronting some of America’s greatest social problems. The group learned from what they saw but agreed that what they saw provoked them to rethink what they do at home in their own organisations. There are 12 people now buzzing with new ideas and plans for the home front.

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