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Mid-town charter gets $50K in cash for STEM classes

Two new science labs at the new charter Baltimore Leadership School were dedicated Monday — and the middle school got a $50,000 in cash from a corporate benefactor, Northrop Grumman Corp.

Students at Baltimore Leadership School gather around a robot in one of the charter school’s new science labs.

The school is located in a former YWCA at Park Avenue and Franklin Street. It underwent a $2.5 million renovation in 2009 to convert the former living spaces into classrooms. The building’s former gymnasium has also been renovated for athletic activities.

“Northrop Grumman wanted to make sure that they think about the girls today so they can one day be in their offices,” said Lorna Hanley, principal of the girls-only city charter school that has 298 students enrolled for grades 6-8.

The BLS, nicknamed “Bliss,” will expand to include high school grades next year and will graduate its first class in 2016. A total enrollment of 500 is expected by then.

Ted E. Imes Sr., director of corporate citizenship for Northrop Grumman, said the gift was part of a company-wide effort to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as STEM — education in 14 U.S. cities in an effort to boost science, technology, engineering and math classes.

“It’s because the country needs more people interested in STEM, and traditionally, minorities and females tended to shy away from science and math,” Imes said, of the support pledged for BLS that totaled $50,000 in cash and $17,000 in in-kind contributions.

The gift was made after a BLS board member who was married to a former Northrop Grumman executive called Imes to tell him about the new school.

Baltimore Leadership School was started in 2008 by local philanthropist Brenda Brown Rever.

The school was first located at Western High School before the new building was purchased for $1.5 million and then renovated at cost by Rever’s brother, Owings Mills developer Howard Brown, president of the David S. Brown Enterprises, for $2.5 million.

The school enrolls citywide, and recently had a lottery for 85 new slots for next year’s classes. A wait list of 200 exists, Hanley said.

The new science labs are located on the top floor with large windows and sweeping views of the city’s mid-town. The labs feature state-of-the-art equipment for experiments and officially opened two weeks ago for a science fair.