THE GATEWAY PROJECT

RE-ENTRY PROGRAM

The Nolita Project, Inc. will partner with the Walk with Me Project to coordinate recidivism reduction resource services for returning citizens who are the biological parents of children ages 5-24. The Nolita Project provides out-of-school time programming for children and young adults. Youth participants are dually enrolled into mental health treatment, psychiatric rehabilitation services, receive 1:1 mentoring, and family support services. The Walk with Me Project provides case management and supportive services to individuals returning to society from incarceration. Through this partnership we will be able to offer a full family service to both parents and children. Parents are assigned a 1:1 case manager who is responsible for coordinating care including intake,  enrollment, and accountability success plan sessions. During the intake process the adult will enroll themselves and any biological children in their care or family. Parents will engage in weekly programming to include 1:1 accountability success plan sessions, job readiness workshops, behavioral health services, family workshops, and family engagement activities. Youth participants will be assigned a mentor, engage in educational, self-development, and family workshops, and enroll into appropriate services as needed including behavioral health and psychiatric rehabilitation services. All services are provided through a person-centered approach and services will be provided as deemed necessary by intake specialists. 


In 2020, there was an increase of individuals and families affected by loss of a loved one due to COVID-19, incarceration, gun violence, and opioid overdose.  In Baltimore City, we had over 300 homicides last year. A large percentage of those deaths have been individuals who were recently incarcerated or affiliated with a gang. So the need for re-entry/victim services support is evident, especially among youth, young adults, recently incarcerated, gang affiliation, and those who may have seen the devastation of the gun violence or members die from a deadly disease. Through this partnership model we are able to provide services to the entire family and coordinate care as a collective.


 The Gateway Project will provide wrap around services to citizens returning to society from incarceration who are the parents of children ages 5-24. The project is designed for individuals in need of services upon release and those with a history of criminal justice system involvement seeking supportive services for themselves and their children. The Gateway Project will provide up to 6 months of supportive services including assistance with securing vital documents, job readiness training, referrals to housing services, support for transportation to work and volunteer activities, behavioral health programming referrals, parent and child relationship building workshops, specialized youth engagement activities and field trips for participants and their children. 

MEET THE TEAM


Wesley Hawkins

Executive Director

Born on February 10, 1986 to Nolita Smith and Wesley Hawkins, Wesley D. Hawkins has overcome and accomplished notable feats. Wesley is an educator, a real estate investor, business owner, an author of the book Dear Nolita, the CEO of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, The Nolita Project, a mentor to underprivileged youth in the Baltimore community, a University of Baltimore graduate, Cum Laude, with Bachelors of Science Degree in Criminal Justice and a Graduate from Trinity Washington University with a Masters in Education, as well as the full time single parent of his adopted younger brother, Elijah. He is also an inducted member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. While his credentials are impressive; his character is even more admirable. His dedication to bettering himself and the community in the face of adversity, is nothing short of amazing and inspirational to anyone who hears his story. Mr. Hawkins has an undeniable gift of leadership; whether he is speaking greatness into existence in a public forum or leading by example. His influence and impact are the seeds that empower the next generation.

Walter Stone Sanders

Vice President

Walter was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, widely considered one of the toughest cities in the United States.

  • Three sport athlete in Mervo High School. He played Basketball, Football and Track & Field.
  • First member of his family to graduate High School and the first to graduate College.
  • Attended Saint Augustine University in Raleigh, North Carolina where he was an All-American Running Back, 2010 Offensive Player of The Year, All-CIAA First Team.
  • Former NFL Running Back having played for the Baltimore Ravens.
  • EMT Firefighter
  • State & Regional Golden Gloves Boxing Champion

Jamal Turner

Curriculum Facilitator

Born and raised in Baltimore City, Jamal is an advocate for educational equity, community revitalization and wealth building for youth and families in Maryland.
As Deputy Director of The Nolita Project- Jamal has helped Wesley Hawkins expand the mentorship and school programming of TNP and continues to evolve the capabilities of the organization.


As former Co-Chair of Baltimoreans for Educational Equity, Jamal worked with a dynamic group of volunteer advocates addressing youth insecurities, building coalitions that address the needs of youth, and holding legislators accountable for their decisions related to education and the youth experience.


Jamal is a proud graduate of Baltimore City College and Morgan State University and attributes his success to investment of time and energy from Baltimore City teachers. Currently, Jamal serves as Co-Chair of Frankford Community Association, Vice Chair the Police Accountability Board for Baltimore City, and also sits on the Engagement and Analysis Board of the Fund for Educational Excellence

Jeremy Babb

Case Manager I

Jeremy has over ten years of experience working on the front line in the Education system and creating two businesses centered around technology and educational programming. Jeremy is a product manager, entrepreneur, and educator with a background in EdTech, online learning, media production, live streaming, gaming, and workforce development. Passionate about building solutions and incorporating technology to enhance the learning experience. 


Jeremy possesses creative thinking, youth intervention, and problem de-escalation expertise. As an advisor to public schools and local youth programs, he helps youth complete high school, avoid negative interactions with the legal system, and expand their vocational vision.

Sonce Reese

Board Member

Sonce Reese is a recent MBA graduate, graduate of the University of Baltimore, and the Assistant Director of Academic Engagement at a four-year private college. As a student, Sonce’s work focused on homelessness in the City of Baltimore and disaster homelessness across the United States.


Ms. Reese has been a member of the several boards in the City of Baltimore and is currently focused on college prep and the transition to college for high school students. When not working, Sonce enjoys spending time with family and baking.

Erika Groover

Board Member

Erika Groover is an accomplished and seasoned public servant with over 17 years of experience in compliance management, project leadership, and grant management. Her expertise spans various domains including non-profit and government project management, data analysis and curriculum development. Erika Groover currently serves as a Program Specialist in the Office of Thriving Families at the DC Child and Family Services Agency since June 2021. Prior to this role, she held the position of Director of Reform Strategies at the Maryland Department of Juvenile
Services. Notably, she served as a Program Compliance Manager at the Baltimore Police Department where she spearheaded crucial initiatives for community policing reform and juvenile detention alternatives.


Erika is proficient in community outreach, strategic planning, and partnership development. Her achievements include leading the execution of a Community Policing Plan, coordinating the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) replication, and successfully applying for the Law Enforcement Leadership for Equity initiative grant. She has also demonstrated excellence in managing federal grants, particularly the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants, ensuring timely reporting and compliance. Erika Groover holds a Master of Public Administration from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of Arts from North Carolina A&T State University. Erika is very passionate about her community and has been recognized for her dedication to fostering positive change and a
commitment to social equity. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. With a proven track record of success, Erika hopes to continue making significant contributions to the fields of child welfare, juvenile justice, and social equity.

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