By Cori Lucas,
Directly servicing communities and their members by hosting several transformative initiatives every week, Tendea Family is a consistent presence in Baltimore’s streets! “Tendea”—a Swahili colloquialism meaning “hustle”—accurately describes this organization’s method of directly attacking issues that are keeping Baltimore’s Black neighborhoods from reaching their full potential. Elijah Miles, founder of Tendea Family, and his team have given away over $5,000 worth of books, gotten over 2,000 pounds of trash off the streets of Baltimore, and provided food for over 600 families in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, WBAL-TV 11 News covered one of Tendea Family’s community cleanup sessions and state of emergency meetings where they distributed books, information, and discussed how to address the rate of violent crimes in Baltimore—all in honor of Black History Month. “We believe humbly that if the McElderry Park Black community can be different then any neighborhood in Baltimore City can be different.”
The murder of Freddie Gray in 2015 had just recently taken place and the city of Baltimore was in an uproar. Agitated by the state of his home, Elijah decided to take long-overdue action. Attending Morgan State University at the time, he caught the attention of young people like him who wanted to make a positive impact on Baltimore’s Black neighborhoods during these trying times. There, Tendea Family formulated their first efforts to clean, feed and uplift Baltimore City.
A fully-funded Tendea Family organization would have a headquarters in McElderry Park where people can come to find resources and employment in the Tendea Family organization. Elijah envisions hiring community advocates to be active in their neighborhoods. “The culture…the feel, the norms, the values, the principles of McElderry Park would be completely different because we would have the resources to be out there in McElderry Park, transforming the community day-in and day-out.”
Tendea Family’s annual events include their festive Kwanzaa celebration every holiday season; and their Black Book Giveaway which contributes hundreds of books about Black history and culture to Baltimore’s youth to promote Afrocentric edification and identity. Their consistent work to heal the community manifests as the Men’s Community CleanUp initiative. Men of all ages join together every Sunday morning to change the narrative of what it means to be a Black Man in Baltimore. They clear hundreds of pounds of trash and pollution from the streets every month. Following their CleanUp program is The Drawing Board, their discussion forum/book club/think-tank that’s open to all Black Baltimore residents with a passion for discussing ways to uplift their communities! They also host The Sisters Dinner—weekly dinners at the Eubie Blake Center open to all Black women, free of charge, in honor of the 70% of Black households in Baltimore that are run by single mothers. Man to Man is their manhood workshop program that encourages brotherhood and accountability in communities where the absence of positive male figures is a disheartening reality. They’re currently hiring Youth Interns to undergo training in community advocacy, and participate in the weekly clean-up initiative! For more information on their weekly events or to contribute to their work, visit cllctivly.org/listing/tendea-family or follow them on social media @tendeafamily.
All February, we’re honoring a few of the many Black leaders in our community making history every day with #28DaysofBlackFutures.
This is a crowdfunding and narrative power campaign that amplifies and mobilizes resources for Black-led organizations serving Greater Baltimore.
Throughout the month, we will highlight 28 dedicated Black leaders and organizations on the ground creating programs and initiatives that drive health, wealth, safety, and culture in #Baltimore.
Let’s CELEBRATE these changemakers and SUPPORT their work! Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign.
Head over to 28DaysofBlackfutures.org to donate today! ❤️🖤💚
Let’s show up BIG for our Black leaders and their organizations!