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Our History

Founded in 1988 as the literacy project for the Coalition of Peninsula Organizations (COPO), SBLC became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 1990. What began as a neighborhood-based initiative to provide tutoring to adults seeking to learn or improve their reading skills, has grown and expanded to serve 1,000 or more adults each year with a variety of adult education and related life-skills training offerings. Nonetheless, we have always maintained our legacy as an adult literacy institution by focusing on the individual effort, and nurturing the potential success, of each learner on the journey to achieving a Maryland High School Diploma. SBLC functions not only to educate adult learners, but also to empower them to succeed by securing better jobs, enhancing their parenting skills and personal lives, and contributing to their community. We do this by providing an intimate, hands-on learning experience to build their confidence, and allowing them to explore their potential at a pace suitable to their abilities.

Beyond education, SBLC builds on its rich heritage of transforming lives by promoting community development and strengthening relationships with its surrounding neighbors. As an urban institution, located in the heart of Baltimore City, SBLC addresses the needs and aspirations of all people by providing adult education programs designed to enrich the economic growth and well-being of the metropolitan area. By extending our reach beyond our campus and into the community, we believe our graduates will learn to serve more than their own educational interests and develop the desire to nurture lifelong learning and success in others.


  • 1998: SBLC embarked on a $1.75 million capital campaign to renovate a historic building for its permanent home.
  • April 1999: SBLC assumed ownership of 28 East Ostend Street (original South Baltimore Police station built in 1896) after securing the removal of four liens incurred by the previous owner.
  • 2001: SBLC moved to temporary quarters during the historical renovation process and established a Community Technology Center (CTC) offering basic computer classes and open computer lab hours.
  • January 2003: returned to our new state-of-the-art learning center.
  • FY 03-04: began to increase enrollment (50%) according to our strategic plan and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) asked SBLC to take over the operation of the National External Diploma Program for Baltimore City.
  • End of FY 06: enrollment increased by over 100% to nearly 800 – partly due to the addition of several new offsite partner class sites.
  • FY 10: SBLC grew to serve 1000 learners– increasing service 200% since moving into our renovated building.
  • FY 14:  SBLC began to implement new programs and strategies to adapt to the significant changes to both the GED exam and National External Diploma Program (NEDP).
  • FY 15: SBLC hired a new Executive Director to take the Center into its next chapter.

Our Building’s History

SBLC’s classrooms, computer lab and administrative offices are located in the imposing former Southern District Police Station at the corner of East Ostend and Patapsco streets, in a residential section of South Baltimore.  Constructed in 1896, it functioned as a police station complete with holding cells and a courtroom. SBLC was housed, along with several other non-profit organizations in the building, and in 1999 SBLC was able to acquire the facility.

In January 2003, SBLC reopened its doors to an attractive, efficient space for SBLC learners, instructors, staff and volunteers. In recognition of the careful restoration of this historical building, the Center was awarded the 2004 Historic Preservation Award from Baltimore Heritage, Inc. The Southern Police Station is listed in the 2001 National Register of Historic Places, Division of Historical and Cultural Programs, Maryland Historical Trust.

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Thank you, Domino Sugar, for sponsoring SBLC’s 19th Annual Gala!

Purchase your tickets today! ow.ly/6dLt30iFEU7

#LiteracyChangesLives #LiteracyChampions #SBLCStrong #FederalHill
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Today’s everyday champion is Cecilia Byrd. Achieving her Maryland High School Diploma had been on Cecilia Byrd’s mind since 1992, however, watching her son walk across the stage at Digital Harbor High School followed by her other son returning home with his high school diploma sealed the deal. Ms. Byrd had seen a flyer for South Baltimore Learning Center at her church and decided that it was time for her to be an everyday champion for herself, her family, and her community. In 2013, Ms. Byrd began classes at SBLC.

While Ms. Byrd humbly explains how SBLC staff welcomed her with an open heart making her feel welcomed and appreciated, she glosses over the good cheer she brings with her when she comes in for class and tutoring. Ms. Byrd can often be found encouraging other learners and offering words of wisdom and support when needed.

After SBLC, Ms. Byrd plans to go on to college for a business degree so that she can open her own cleaning company.

#LiteracyChangesLives #LiteracyChampions #SBLCStrong
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