Baltimore First

Three Baltimore First members smiling in the CSC Conference Room holding decorated cookies.

Baltimore First applications to become a general member and shift lead are now open! Apply here the general member position here. Apply for the shift lead position here. Applications close Friday, February 9th.


Baltimore First is the Center for Social Concern’s primary community engagement program offered during the academic year. Committed to utilizing a sustainable service model, Baltimore First matches groups of students to volunteer with the same Service Partner for the duration of a semester. In addition to weekly volunteering, Baltimore First members attend educational workshops, critical reflection sessions, cohort socials, and Baltimore-based community events. By coordinating accessible opportunities to engage with Baltimore and facilitating complementary education and reflection sessions, Baltimore First equips students to intentionally engage with diverse communities, promotes awareness of Baltimore’s social equity ecosystem, builds community both on and off campus, and inspires a commitment to active citizenship.

The Center for Social Concern is committed to ensuring that participating in Baltimore First is a meaningful and inclusive experience for all students and community members. Please reach out to the Baltimore First Team if you have any questions, concerns, or accessibility requests.

Continue reading below to learn more about getting involved with Baltimore First. Still have questions? Contact [email protected].

Become a Student Director

Applications for Student Director positions for the 2023-24 academic year have closed. Application instructions and deadlines for future dates will be posted here.

Become a General Member or Shift Lead

General and shift lead applications for Baltimore First have closed.

Member and Shift Lead Expectations

Please keep in mind that when we volunteer, we are guests in established communities. Volunteering is a unique opportunity to learn from folks with diverse lived experiences and to expand our understanding of complex social challenges. We ask that all CSC students engage with community members with humility, respect, and an open mind. All volunteers are expected to be fully engaged and present during service (e.g., no multi-tasking, excessive phone usage, side conversations, etc.).

If for any reason you are unable to attend your scheduled volunteering shifts or other required sessions (e.g., educational workshop, site-specific reflection sessions, etc.), please give Baltimore First advance notice at LEAST 1 business day (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) prior to the scheduled activity. Baltimore First is about building community and requires accountability to both our student members and service partners. Failure to meet the expectations outlined in this document could result in dismissal from Baltimore First.

Read through the PDF Document: General Member expectations and the PDF Document: Shift Lead expectations.

Program Expectations

Members of Baltimore First are required to make a semester-long commitment and must participate fully to the best of their abilities in the following mandatory program activities – orientation, an educational workshop, a small-group reflection session, and at least one community event in Baltimore City.


  • Complete 1 virtual training on Engaging with Baltimore Communities before starting service
  • Attend 1 Educational Workshop
  • Participate in 1 Experiential Learning Event


  • Fully participate in volunteering responsibilities at assigned service site
  • Independently engage in one Baltimore City community activity
  • [Optional] Attend social events & community gatherings


  • Participate in 2 small group site-specific reflection sessions
  • Participate in reflection activities after workshops and experiential learning event
  • [Optional] Complete other critical reflection prompts as offered


  • Monitor and respond to Baltimore First communications (sent via email and slack)
  • Comply with all JHU policies and procedures (including the Student Code of Conduct and all necessary risk management processes).
  • Log impact hours on Hopkins Engage

Shift Lead Expectations

Baltimore First Shift Leads play an important role in ensuring that all volunteering runs smoothly by serving as key supports to the Student Directors. Shift Leads will be assigned to a Service Site based on preference and availability and will assist the Student Director’s efforts in ensuring that volunteer operations run smoothly. In addition, Shift Leads will act as the Service Site Lead should the Student Director not be present for service.

This role is unpaid. However, Shift Leads will receive priority consideration for future Baltimore First Leadership roles and will have access to professional development workshops hosted by CSC staff. In addition, a $100 stipend is available to any Shift Lead who is HopVan certified and drives volunteers to Service Site multiple times over the semester. An additional stipend ($150-500) will be made available for Shift Leads that cover for Student Directors (e.g. independently lead a group of volunteers) 2 or more times throughout the semester. Stipends will be distributed contingent upon successful completion of the semester.

Baltimore First Shift Leads are required to make a semester-long commitment and must participate fully to the best of their abilities in the following mandatory program activities.


  • Same as member expectations (see above)


  • Same as member expectations (see above)
  • [Required] Attend social events & community gatherings


  • Same as member expectations (see above)
  • [Required] Complete other critical reflection prompts as offered


Same as member expectations (see above)

Meet our Student Directors

Baltimore First’ student leaders play critical leadership roles within the program by serving as the primary point of contact for Service Partners and student volunteers. They are responsible for cultivating strong relationships with Service Partners, supporting and building community among student volunteers, and implementing the CSC’s education curriculum by hosting workshops and trainings, coordinating co-learning opportunities for volunteers, and cultivating a culture of critical reflection among the cohort.

Cerina Pang

Cerina Pang headshot. She is smiling with a white t-shirtBaltimore First means a lot to me. I first joined my freshman year and have stuck with it ever since. I think that this is one of the very first student organizations that I genuinely enjoyed doing because I not only got to do service, but I was also able to branch outside the bubble of Charles Village and learn about the stories of Baltimoreans who have lived here for much longer than I have. To me, this is one of the really important aspects of doing service: immersing yourself in the stories of people that you’re doing service for, in order to learn about the community that you’re doing service with. Baltimore First emphasizes exactly that. In addition, there is a unique educational component that helps its volunteers become more knowledgeable on longstanding issues that are still very much prevalent in Baltimore. These issues are usually not brought up in classes. To integrate something more than just service has made me become a much more well-rounded and mindful volunteer when working with our community service partners.

When I’m not on campus, you can often find me in Federal Hill at Ramen Utsuke and Moo Moo Cows. Both are my absolute go-to restaurant and dessert spot (I usually go to both places in that order)! Federal Hill Park also offers a stunning view of the sunset and Baltimore skyline. I also enjoy quaint neighborhoods like Mount Vernon where there are small boutiques, cafes, and mom-and-pop restaurants. Baltimore is such a unique place to live in – each neighborhood is so idiosyncratic and has a lot to offer in their own ways. I think that’s what makes it really the “Charm” City. Even though I’ve only lived here for two years, I already feel like I know the city and neighborhoods like the back of my hand.

Outside of Baltimore First, I am a Student Organizer for Tutorial Project, a member of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) and Alzheimer’s Buddies, and am involved in research at a laboratory. I enjoy doing things that I’m passionate about and care about. Service is one of those things and has always been, even in high school. I think the ability to ameliorate even just a little stress in someone’s life and try to better it in the most minute ways is very meaningful. If I can do that, then why wouldn’t I?

When I’m not studying, I’m usually cooking (also synonymous with watching cooking videos on YouTube) or out and about somewhere! I grew up in San Francisco where they’re notorious for having delicious foods from different cultures, so I have always been a foodie that is constantly seeking for the next restaurant to dine at. You can also find me hanging out with my hamster, Almond, or browsing the next thing I should get for his little mansion!

Emily Lu

Emily Lu headshot smilingBaltimore First was one of the first communities I joined upon entering Hopkins, and it continues to be one of the most important organizations to both my professional and personal development. Baltimore First introduced me to some of the amazing organizations striving to make change in Baltimore city, and from then I’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible people who all share the same goal: To make Baltimore city a more equitable and culturally enriched home. Getting out of the Hopkins bubble is the first step to truly appreciating all the opportunities and events that Baltimore has to offer, and Baltimore First has been absolutely instrumental for me in making that first step.

My favorite to-dos in Baltimore include picking up crepes at Cross Street Market, strolling around Inner Harbor at night, and tucking into some Ekiben at the Roosevelt Park skate park!

Other than Baltimore First, I am a part of Hopkins Community Connection, Thread, and the Hopkins Ballet company.

In my free time, I love to dance – contemporary, ballet, and tap, among others – experiment with new recipes, and try out new food spots around Baltimore!

Amanda Ferber

Amanda Ferber headshot. She is smiling with a black shirt and shoulder length curly brown hairAmanda Ferber is a second-generation Colombian American, and she was born and raised in Boynton Beach, Florida. She is a member of the Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she has conducted research on racial disparities in health services utilization in gentrifying neighborhoods. Her research interests also extend to health information management and the implementation science of health interventions globally. Amanda dreams of a highly applied, data-driven career where she spearheads the implementation of empirically supported intervention models in low-resource settings.

Having volunteered at Cornerstone Community Housing and Paul’s Place with Baltimore First, she is also eager to learn more about how initiatives spearheaded by the Baltimore City Health Department, Housing Authority, and Department of Human Services can democratize comfortable lives for Baltimore residents.

Her favorite event in Baltimore is the annual Mount Vernon Flower Mart every May, and her favorite food in Baltimore is served by the Blacksauce Kitchen in Remington. In her free time, Amanda loves singing in choir at the Peabody Conservatory, listening to R&B music, learning about American Christian fundamentalism, and caring for her pet chameleon, Kendrick.

Samantha Sarlin

Samantha Harlin headshotSamantha Sarlin was born and raised in Houston, TX, and she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Music at the Johns Hopkins University. Following graduation, Samantha hopes to attend medical school and use her education to address healthcare inequities for medically underserved communities. With her time spent at JHU thus far, Samantha has had the pleasure of becoming involved with a multitude of communities, ranging from those tied to the Center for Social Concern (Baltimore First) to academic societies (Women’s Pre-Health Leadership Society, TriBeta Biological Honor Society) to other extracurricular organizations on campus (JHU Dragon Boat Club, TEDxJHU, WingsJHU).

Her time in Baltimore First has been an invaluable experience, as she has formed sustainable relationships with a multitude of community organizations in the city. She looks forward to continue to form meaningful connections with Baltimore citizens in the future. Outside of class and engaging in research, Samantha enjoys running, spending time with friends, binging Netflix shows, and exploring the many amazing restaurants that Baltimore has to offer. Her favorite places to frequent for a late-night snack are Ekiben in Hampden and Kong (Pocha).

Ikshu Pandey

Headshot of Ikshu Pandey smiling outside a pillarIkshu Pandey is a first-generation college student from Long Island, New York. Currently a senior studying in Neuroscience and Materials Science & Engineering, she intends on attending medical school after graduation with the goal of using her education to target inequities in healthcare faced by marginalized and underrepresented communities. At Hopkins, she is passionate about studying how intersectionality shapes a person’s perspective and experiences, both inside and outside of the medical world, and does so through her involvement in Baltimore First as well as other organizations such as Society for Biomaterials, the NuRhoPsi and Tau Beta Pi honor societies, Materials Research Society, and JHU’s Disability Inclusion Advisory Committee.

In her free time, Ikshu enjoys immersing herself in the Baltimore community, whether it be through her volunteer work with Baltimore First or through exploring the food scene and attending events with her friends. Within Baltimore, some of her favorite things to do are visit Canton Waterfront Park, swim in Gunpowder Falls, and eat tacos at Barcocina. Through Baltimore First, she has recognized the impact of systemic inequities on the populations within Baltimore, learned how to practice active citizenship, and formed meaningful relationships with the communities she serves.

Aamilah Chowdhury

Aamilah Chowdhury headshot outside brick buildingsHometown: Dallas, TX

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Baltimore First is incredibly important to me because it allows me to connect with Baltimorean high school students (like at Saint Francis neighborhood center!). I have met incredibly inspiring changemakers in this Baltimore City, and it would have been difficult for me to do so without Baltimore First. I found avenues of venturing out into different neighborhoods through this organization, and as a result, learned so much about the city. For that I am grateful.

My favorite place in Baltimore (that I kind of want to gatekeep…) is Bottle of Bread in Mt. Vernon! It’s a vintage store that I go to every chance I get. I have found my favorite pieces of clothing there. You can also see them at vintage pop-ups in the city!

I am in the resident advisor community here at Hopkins (through which I have been able to meet so many amazing students in the Hopkins community!). I am also in the Bangladeshi-American community here at Hopkins, serving on the E-board for Johns Hopkins’s Bangladeshi-American Student Association (BASA). I love cell and tissue engineering, so I am a teaching assistant for the Cell and Tissue Engineering lab course!

When I am not studying, I love making oddly-specific Spotify playlists, vintage shopping, and trying new foods.

Service Partners & Volunteer Times

During Fall Semester 2023, Baltimore First will be partnering with five Service Partners (Baltimore-based nonprofit organizations). Learn more about each organization and volunteer shift times below. Please be advised that Baltimore First coordinates and pays for all transportation to and from service sites!

Note: Service partners notated by (*) include working with minors and will require additional child safety training.

Baltimore Green Space

Baltimore Green Space logoDescription

Baltimore Green Space is Baltimore’s environmental land trust. They promote vibrant neighborhoods and a healthy environment through land preservation, research, and community advocacy. Their vision is to be a leader and partner in ensuring that communities’ open spaces and forest patches are considered priority assets in the growth and redevelopment of Baltimore. They believe that green spaces provide unmatched opportunities for recreation, civic engagement, and community revitalization. It is essential to retain existing natural spaces that have ecological value and biodiversity. Their impact includes the scientifically documented social, health, environmental, and economic benefits that create strong neighborhoods and a vibrant city.

Volunteer Activities

Baltimore First members will support revitalization and stewardship efforts at local green spaces, namely Springfield Woods – Baltimore Green Space and Wilson Woods – Baltimore Green Space

Volunteer Shift Times

Saturdays from 10am-noon (travel time not included)

*Corner Team, Inc.

corner team logoDescription

Corner Team, Inc. uses Olympic-style boxing to strengthen core competencies that improve academic performance, encourage healthy and active lifestyles, and build strong communities of engaged citizens. Corner Team is organized around the longstanding and successful tradition of community sports programs that address holistic well being at the neighborhood level to shape Champions for Life! Engagement in any sports activity provides opportunities for social interaction and skill-building within diverse settings. Sports foster pride and increase self-esteem. Sports teach leadership and discipline, and support physical, mental, and social fitness. Through sports, Corner Team, Inc. connects our Champions to local resources, mentors, academic tutoring, economic opportunities, and healthy living strategies that grow tomorrow’s leaders and inspire the change we want to see for all.

The Vision is clear: building strong minds, bodies, and communities creates champions for life–leaders inspiring positive change.

Volunteer Activities

Baltimore First members will serve as “Learning Coaches” to Baltimore City students (grades 7-12) in the Youth Champions after-school program. Members will provide mentorship and academic support that will supplement the boxing training and other programming provided at Corner Team.

Volunteer Shifts

Mondays from 5-6pm and/or Wednesdays from 5-6pm (travel time not included). Members have the option of either signing up for one shift (Mondays/Wednesdays) OR signing up for both days. However, members must commit to the same schedule throughout the entire semester.

*St. Francis Neighborhood Center

St. Francis Neighborhood logoDescription

St. Francis Neighborhood Center is the oldest neighborhood center providing enrichment in all of Baltimore City! Their mission is committed to ending generational poverty through education, inspiring self-esteem, self-improvement, and strengthening connections to the community. By utilizing education, art, mentoring and tutoring they work to provide people with the tools they need to advance their lives financially and socially, while fostering positive interpersonal and community connections. This in turn gives people a sense of self-empowerment, which is the principal driving force in creating extraordinary change within individuals and the community. Their programs build self-esteem as well as academic, emotional, interpersonal, social, and community development that works to address complex challenges in an effort to break the cycles of urban poverty.

Volunteer Activities

Baltimore First members will be supporting the Power Project, an after-school program for Baltimore City students. Volunteers will tutor students ranging from grades pre-K to early college either 1-1 or in small groups.

Volunteer Times

Tuesdays from 3:30-5:30pm (travel time not included)

Paul’s Place

Paul's Place Logo.Description

The mission of Paul’s Place is to improve the quality of life in Southwest Baltimore. They provide programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals, families, and neighborhoods, by fostering hope, personal dignity, and growth. Paul’s Place vision is that the individuals and families living in Southwest Baltimore City will have full access to high-quality health care, education, employment, and housing along with any other support or resources necessary for stability.

Volunteer Activities

Baltimore First members will be supporting with meal services and serving lunch/dinner to the guests of Paul’s Place.

Volunteer Times

Tuesdays from 10:45am-12:30pm or Thursdays from 5-6:30pm (travel time not included)

Earl’s Place/Cornerstone Community Housing

cornerstone community housing logoDescription

Cornerstone Community Housing (CCH) is dedicated to helping men experiencing homelessness rebuild their lives and to changing attitudes toward homelessness through outreach and education. CCH envisions a community where any man experiencing homelessness has access to the resources, support, and environment to rebuild his life.

Volunteer Activities

Baltimore First members will tutor CCH residents on computer literacy by developing a basic curriculum for all levels of users and teaching entry-level basic programs such as keyboarding, internet browsing, word processing, and emailing.

Volunteer Times

Mondays from 6-7pm (travel time not included)

Baltimore First Through Words and Photos