Welcome to The Community School - an Academic and Mentoring High School in Baltimore, Maryland. Thank you for visiting. x

Funding Campaign 2015/2016


Amount raised so far: $27,208 of $25,000

 We are keeping the campaign open, so if anyone hasn’t had a chance to contribute and would like to support this cause, please join us.  Every dollar goes directly into the classroom for the students’ education.

Thank you so much for helping us reach this amazing milestone!


Help us serve more students at THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL.

Even a small donation will go a long way to helping us meet our goal for THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL. The school has an opportunity help more young people in the community to have a brighter future. This is only possible if we raise the money needed to hire an additional teacher. Every donation raised up to $25,000 will be matched dollar for dollar by The Goldseker Foundation, so your contribution will go twice as far.

In the old days, when a community wanted to educate its young, they got together, pooled their resources, built a one room schoolhouse and hired a teacher. Even though we are in modern time, that is exactly what we have done and continue to do. Back in 1982, we saw a need to address our community’s extraordinary high drop out rate and decided that we needed to do something about it. With little more than vision and determination and our own hands and resources, we created The Community School in a church basement. Without a single text book and with only scrap paper and pencils, we got to work, “doing the best with what we have,” and created educational opportunity for our youth.

For over 3 decades we have been serving as an academic and mentoring program for young people from area neighborhoods and around the city. The Community School is now a state certified private secondary school with more students who need us and want to attend than we can serve. We have an opportunity to double our size with the hiring of another teacher and so we have launched this campaign. We have existed all of these years through donations and volunteerism and without government subsidy.

Just like those schools of old, if we are to look out for our young people then we need to come together to make it happen. We are asking our friends, families, neighbors and supporters to pitch in and lend a hand. Each of you who sacrifice reinforce our belief in our young people and affirm that they deserve the best education that the community can provide them. Just like our ancestors, we have decided that investing in our young people is an investment in the whole community.

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“Do the best you can with what you have.” Tom Culotta’s philosophy.  The Community School opened in a church basement in January 1982. Tom was the only teacher and there were 15 students. Each morning, Tom went to the corner newspaper box, put 15 cents in the slot, and “borrowed” 15 newspapers. Those were the textbooks. Three months later, the school got a dictionary. “That was a huge day! No gift, however small, will ever be wasted at TCS. Please consider giving to our fundraiser today.” Don Riesett, Writing Mentor, Advisory Board

“I currently attend the school and boy has it helped me become a mature responsible young man! The education received at TCS is far more valuable than that given by any other school. The school helps students become hard working individuals.” Chris White, Current Student

“I have been a part of The Community School for the better part of 13 years now. I went from being a student to now being a mentor, sponsor and board member in the school. This organization has changed my life, and I hope that people can see the impact a school, like The Community School, can have on a community.

I can honestly say that I would not be where I am, who I am, if not for The Community School. I look back at my experiences that I have had while in and working with this organization, and it is some of the best times I have had in my life.

“The Community School will forever have a place in my life, and I hope you take the opportunity to make it a part of yours.” Justin Switzer, Graduate & Trustee

“As many of you may know I am a graduate of the school, about 25 years ago, and I have been involved ever since. My niece Destini and nephew Joshua both benefited from attending the school just as so many other young people have. It is a great program and it is only getting better.” Dave Bayer, Graduate, Trustee

“I am entering my eighth year as a Writing Mentor at The Community School, working with teenagers who refuse to give up on themselves and are determined to move their lives forward in a positive manner. Not all have succeeded, but many have–moving onto college, obtaining good jobs, and becoming responsible parents.” Don Riesett, Writing Mentor, Advisory Board

“I worked at The Community School for three years and can only describe my experience as unbelievable. TCS is more than a high school, it is a community that supports, uplifts, motivates, and betters everyone who is involved within it. The students I met at TCS were some of the most energetic, determined, and compassionate people I have ever come across. In the city of Baltimore, where a great education is hard to find, TCS provides a world-class education to deserving high school students.” Hemen Muleta, Graduate of JHU, Former Tutor on Staff

“The Community School has been a part of my life since I was a baby. My mom volunteered there for most of my youth, and as an adult, I have followed in her footsteps. Many of you have heard me talk about the school, or about the students that I’ve sponsored. I cannot express in words how truly wonderful the program is. The quality of education, and real-life skills that students gain is astounding. The Community School provides a safe environment that fosters true excellence from students who have been overlooked or dismissed in other school systems. It’s a rigorous program, and these teenagers work HARD! They have a sincere desire to succeed and have refused to let circumstance hinder reaching their fullest potential.” Fleesie Hubbard, Sponsor & Trustee

“Paulette and I were first introduced to TCS in 2004 and we have seen the difference it makes in the lives of city youth. We have seen kids who were barely educated to an elementary level, elevated each year thru high school, all the while feeling like losers who couldn’t keep up in the classroom. Upon entering the Community School, we sometimes saw their sad and empty faces reflecting their lack of self-worth …… but not for long. With an individualized lesson plan designed to meet them where they were, they soon began to master the classwork that eluded them and become more confident and poised. They began to sit up straighter and speak more loudly and clearly while smiling and beginning to help others. We have witnessed one of our students who was severely challenged in every aspect of their school and home life, complete college and go on to receive a masters degree from a rigorous program at a public university in Maryland.” Ken Bancroft, Advisory Board

“I’ve volunteered at the school ever since I can remember and it’s for one simple reason that everyone connected to the school knows: TCS makes a real difference in people’s lives. This fundraiser was started to raise money for the school to hire a new teacher to help even more people.

As most already know, I don’t really ask people to give for any cause, but the school is particularly unique. I’ve personally seen (and experienced) the difference the school can make. For me, I have had:

  • Support all through my college career via the College Support Program with financial aid, registration, course selection, and coursework
  • Met some amazing people in every career and industry around the world
  • The joy of giving back to our community, mostly through doing simple services

This list could easily be expanded to specifics, but nobody has the time to read the thousands of situations where the school has helped shape me into the person I am today. For that reason, I feel that if you don’t know what I’m talking about to just stop by and see for yourself. For those that do know what I’m talking about, I ask for any donation you can spare, even $5. There is no minimum and there is no maximum.” Ryan Gavin, Trustee

“As I begin my tenth year as a volunteer with The Community School, I am reminded of the tremendous leap of faith I took back in those uncertain days, looking for a way to “give back” to honor the overwhelming support and goodness so many of you shared as I faced personal health challenges.

Today, I remain grateful and healthy and my family has been blessed beyond measure.My volunteer work at The Community School continues two days weekly, enriching my life and giving me the chance to witness first-hand the transformation of many young lives, in spite of often difficult life circumstances. The vision and dedication of supporters have sustained this one-room schoolhouse for more than two generations through donations and volunteerism. Their commitment coupled with my ongoing interactions with our hard-working students, continue to inspire and motivate my work.” Peggy Lashbrook, Volunteer Staff, Advisory Board

“This year I sponsored a young woman in the 9th grade and she made it through. But never would she have succeeded without the teacher and principal, Tom Culotta. His total attention and follow up to make each student complete the work required to pass and succeed, each day and each week, is inspiring. And it is the only way for my student to succeed. Tom has done this for 30 years and personally led these students to achieve. This is a private school run on a shoestring in Hampden; each student pays $25 a week to attend. Skin in the game. The students start high school wherever they are academically, if they promise to work hard every day, use no drugs or alcohol, follow all the rules, and always correct all work with mistakes. School runs from 8-4:30 and my student missed only three days all year. I really believe this school is the answer for many young people.” Mary Louise Preis, Sponsor

“I’ve been a volunteer with this program for over 13 years and can’t begin to tell you how wonderful this small alternative high school is. The program is for kids whose needs just weren’t being met in the regular public schools. Each student is respected as a unique individual, encouraged and valued for him/herself. When anyone is encouraged and valued, he/she blossoms into the best person he/she can be.” Carol Berman, Advisory Board

“Hampden’s Ravens Roost #110 is teaming up with The Community School to give more young people the opportunity for a brighter future. Many of our closest family and friends have benefitted from their experience at The Community School and we need to ensure that as many other young people as possible continue to receive the same opportunities.” Ravens Roost #110 – Hampden

“This fundraiser is near and dear to my heart. Tom Culotta and this community school have not only made an impact on the community of Baltimore, but have made a personal impact on my family’s lives. Take a look – check out the story – and see what you can do to help!” Amber Rae (Nickles)

“I have proudly served on The Community School’s Advisory Board for years and have even taught a mini-course in local government and the legislative process. For 30-plus years, I have been part of the community family which supports the amazing students who choose TCS and go on to excel in college and careers.

“TCS is truly transformative. It’s a family and one-room schoolhouse all in one. Now that it’s growing into a two-room private high school, I am happy to dig deep and contribute to three years of salary security for our first “second teacher” to help Tom Culotta keep up the school’s high standards of achievement and the entire community’s ongoing support for its graduates.

“I hope you will join me in this fundraising effort.” Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore City Councilwoman, Advisory Board

“Friends, this is Will’s school below. There are only 3 weeks left before school goes back and we really need your assistance to fund a second teacher. Please help ensure that more students have the opportunity to learn in the safe and supportive setting of The Community School.” Stacy Laumann, Parent of Student


“This school is absolutely amazing and has helped countless neighborhood children. They are doing great things and leaving the community with productive, responsible young adults. Any donation is not only greatly appreciated, but a great investment. I know no mutual fund or stock that could give you a better return on your investment or a better guarantee for the future.” Brittany Noelle Magaha-Ndegwa, Sister of Graduate

“We all have organizations we donate to, but rarely do we have the opportunity to really see the progress our money has made. That’s not the case with your donation to our school. I invite you to visit our site www.tcshighschool.org and read the impact we’ve had on countless students and how proud we all are of their accomplishments. We are starting a new school year with a goal to fund an additional teacher to provide the best education possible for our youth.” Lisa Gavin, Mom of Graduate

“Stop what your doing everyone and go help My daughters school to raise money so they can give more of our children the opportunity to learn in a Fun, yet safe environment. Tom has done great for the past 30+ years but in order to hire another teacher so they can accept more kids we need to raise money. As most of you know The Community School has helped so many kids in our area become successful including myself, but with only having one teacher they can only accept a small amount of kids. So let’s all come together and donate. Even of it is $5 it will go a long way. Please donate, share, and help our Children have a Bright Future!!!” Nicole Cook, Graduate and Parent of Student



“I am so excited about having new students join this already amazing class! It will be wonderful to welcome the new teacher to TCS!”
-Tom Culotta, Teacher

“We may not be trying to save a precious dog but the future of our kids depends on this fundraiser. Please help.”
– Cathy Russo Froman

“Sounds like a great school!! Good luck with the fundraiser!”
– Bridgett Welch

“For the positive example TCS sets for the neighborhood.”
– Kathleen Ambrose

“Tom, I join many, many others in thanking you for this amazing work.”
– Judy Guarino

“In memory of Mom…a loyal supporter of TCS…and me! :) Look forward to the opportunities this gift will help create!”
– Peggy Lashbrook, Volunteer Staff & Advisor

“I am very happy to contribute to your mission for such a good cause. Good Luck and God Bless!”
– Anne Smith

“Without this place there is no way I would have been able to make it to a university. The people of this school are truly dedicated to the students. If anyone could help donate that’d be amazing and you’d be helping a truly wonderful community.” Sara Ciulla, Graduate

“Keep up the great work!”
– Phillip Hale

“I invite former students, and friends to help support an amazing organization that has helped to change my life forever!”
– Zack Austin

“Hope this will help you towards this next important goal! We so admire the work you do!”
– Joe & Chris Culotta

“I invite everyone to help support an amazing organization that has both helped me through lots of hardships, but also helped to shape my life as I know it today. With its amazing teacher/ mentor Tom Culotta, it has helped to give me great life skill by living up to the 5 habits this school teaches. ‘Show up every day, on time, with a positive attitude, and all your work.’ I think every young person should give themselves to something greater than them. I have joined the Army. This is a bigger commitment with the same outcome of serving something greater than themselves.”
– Zack Austin

“My daughter graduated from this school and I volunteered there for a few years. It is a wonderful asset for our young people. Please support this worthwhile program.”
– Barbara Foltz, Parent of Graduate

“Best of luck with the new fundraising campaign. You are an amazing person and each of your students is fantastically fortunate to have you in their life.”
– Jill Goodman

“In honor of Ken and Paulette Bancroft and their commitment to the community where it all began. Keep up the great work, Tom and team!”
– Heather Oldham

“The Community School can make a difference in students’ lives and in the community.”
-Jeanne Lauber

“Best wishes Peggy and the entire Community School family! Aim high!”
– Linda Smith

“Please grow the Community School!”
– Gary Saganski

“That all students at the Community School will love learning and succeed.”
– Elizabeth Kameen

“Working with the students has been such a positive experience for me this past year and I am happy to do anything to see the school grow!”
– Lauren Zingaro, Tutor

“You are some advocate Ms. Peggy!”
– Debra Bosso

“All the best to a great year!”
– Nancy Wilson

“Go, Sadie and TCS!”
– Abby, Mark & Miriam

“Proud to be a supporter of the Community School.”
– Phillip Schmandt

“For the future”
– Judy Morris

“Looking forward to another successful year!”
– Lisa Gavin

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have TCS and Tom supporting me. Thank you for all you do.”
– Morgan Lister

“In appreciation of Tom Culotta and TCS students past and present.”
– Rev. Dr. Kathryn Woodrow

“Thanks all for the work you are doing for your community.”
– Marilyn Prough

“Proud to support The Community School – friend and neighbor!”
– Liz Baker

“Peggy…Thanks for all of the work you do on behalf of so many.”
– Ed Bosso

“For Tom Culotta and Jeremy Schoen.”
– Robin Schoen

“Thank you, Tom, for your bold and wonderful initiative to so positively affect our shared future– you help us all by what you do!”
– Blaine Carvalho

“Can people share and try to help? It’s a great cause.”
– C.J. Sosa, Graduate

“Great School! Please help if you are able to.”
– JoAnn DeCola Pace, Parent of former student

“Please consider. Tom is making wonderful adults.”
-Karen McLendon Laumann

“”I cannot think of a more deserving cause, please give if you can and spread the word.”
– Ryan Flanigan

“It is with great pleasure and pride that I now give back to the school that helped shape me into the man I am today.”
– Justin Switzer, Graduate & Trustee

“The Community School is the best!”
– Tony Culotta, Advisor

“Don, thanks for all of your hard work with the school!!!”
– Christine Jackson

“Glad to support such an amazing program. These students are our future!”
– Fleesie Hubbard, Sponsor & Advisor

“This school has helped for many years to make a better community and help kids towards a better future.”
– Evan Green, Graduate

“To an amazing woman [Peggy] who is always thinking and helping others. I am blessed to have you as a friend.”
– Susan Mortifiglio

“Read and share, y’all. Tom Culotta is a pillar of the community and a great human being. Let’s spread this around and help out man who has changed, saved and bettered many lives, and instilled values and character in the hearts and minds of the future. Tom Culotta, you’re an incredible example of selflessness and love.”
– Jimi Dean

“Congratulations….Keep up the good work!!”
– Mark & Julie Miller

“This is an amazing school I had the privilege of learning about and connecting with when I served a church in North Baltimore 20+ years ago.”
– Kathryn Tarwater Woodrow

“Shoot for the moon Dyrrell!!”
– Ron Sampson

“Wishing lots of luck with your fundraiser.”
– Gary & Cathy Russo Froman

“You do such great things.”
– Pam & Doug Lashbrook

“A great school that enables a great education.”
– Brother Frank O’Donnell

“”Nancy and I are pleased to support your fundraising effort on behalf of this worthy cause. God bless the work of The Community School.”
– Nancy and Kevin Lanagan

“Proud to know you.”
– Mary Magenta

“Because we need more Daves out there :-)”
– Brittany Trusso

“Keep up the great work!”
– Jonathan Surran

“I am donating in support of Don Riesett and the Community School who work so hard to help youth believe all things are possible.”
– Genny Resch

“Keep up the good work Tom!”
– Jana Carey & Ben Yuhas

“Don Riesett, you are a hero, and I hope this contribution helps you continue to do what you do!”
– Christine Sandberg

“I’m looking forward to the expansion of the school.”
– Dan Morris

“It is great to see the school grow.”
– Brother Frank O’Donnell

“Help us support the school to push it along for the next 38 years and beyond!”
– Ryan Gavin

“Just never enough good things to say about Tom Culotta and The Community School!!!”
– Angela McCarty

“I only see GOOD coming from this wonderful High School! Thanks Tom”
– Vernon and Karen Laumann Jr.

“From Abby’s Aunt Leah and Uncle Marty. Keep up the great work and stay focused!”
– Leah Augenbraun & Marty Markoe

“Thank you for all you have done and continue to do.”
– Jake Nickles, Graduate

“Just a small token of my our thanks,for all you have done for our son,and all the other students, past, present, and future.”
– Morgan Lister, Sr.

“Good luck with the campaign – we donate in support of Peggy Lashbrook.”
– The Sherman Family

“I love this school.”
– Sadie Greenwood

“This is an amazing school! I am happy to donate and encourage you all to do the same!”- Lisa Knickmeyer