When Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti read about some of the tragic events at Baltimore City's Renaissance Academy last year, he wanted to help.
The school and surrounding community in West Baltimore had been wrought with violence, including an incident where a student died after being stabbed at school. The circumstances reached a point where the school was to set to close after last school year.
That's when Bisciotti called Ravens President Dick Cass to see what they could do.
"He decided it was something where he could maybe help," Cass said. "He saw the fact that the students and the school community were keenly interested in keeping the school open. He also was very interested in the mentoring program in the school, Seeds of Promise, which was started by the school's principal.
"He saw all of those factors and thought, 'This school should remain open, if we can make it happen.'"
Cass reached out to Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises to discuss how the Ravens could get involved and whether the district was committed to keeping the school open. After determining what the school needed to continue operating, the Ravens committed $1 million in November to renovate it.
"Dr. Santelises thought that because of the violence at the school, and because of the trauma that so many of the students had experienced, they needed to change the look of the school," Cass said. "They needed to either change the physical plant entirely and move to another location, or at least change the plant enough to make it look like a new school."
The renovations will include a new entrance to the school, as well as a new science room, art room and space designed to host special events. They will also allow the school to add more programs, such as technology classes.
The renovations will transform the environment inside the school.
Since making the initial investment, the Ravens have committed an additional $500,000 to keep the school open. In addition to the $1.5 million commitment to the school, the Ravens also pledged $75,000 to help fund the Seeds of Promise program.
Construction on the project is underway and will be complete by the time students return to school this year.