Baltimore Youth Initiative Issues Grants to 10 Organizations
Baltimore’s Promise, in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, recently announced a package of 10 grants totaling roughly $525,000 through its Youth Grantmakers Initiative. The effort, which featured a group of 15 Baltimore-area youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 25 in prominent design and decision-making roles, granted funds to 10 local organizations, including:
- ¡Adelante Latina! — a three-year college preparation program for Latina girls from low-income households who attend Baltimore City Public Schools.
- Asylee Women Enterprise — a group that supports asylum seekers and foreign-born survivors of human trafficking as they rebuild their lives in Baltimore.
- I AM MENtality — a group that works with young men through mentoring, financial literacy, workforce development, health and wellness support and leadership training.
- Inheritance Academy & Child Development Center — a new mentoring and workforce program for youth ages 16 to 24.
- Islamic Leadership Institute of America — an organization that helps youth become responsible leaders in their community through experiential learning, leadership development, character building, career development, internships and mentoring.
- KEYS Empowers Inc. — a group that supports young people and families in crisis with housing, medical care and mental health and substance use services.
- MissionFit Inc. — a physical fitness program that works to strengthen the minds, bodies and community of Baltimore’s youth.
- Muse 360 — a youth-led organization offering a year-long program to help young people develop intellectual, social-emotional and creative skills.
- From Prison Cells to PhD Inc. — a group that provides mentoring, educational counseling and scholarships to individuals returning from incarceration to position them to build careers.
- Youth of the Diaspora — an initiative of the African Diaspora Alliance that educates Baltimore’s youth through workshops focused on global Black history, community organizing techniques, civic engagement and community healing methods.
“The connection between these grantees is their commitment to youth, their passion and their ability to think outside of the box. They are providing something that is new and exciting,” says Cesia Calero, a member of the Youth Grantmakers Initiative. “I hope through this initiative we take youth more seriously. This city is full of talented youth, and we need more programs that recognize that and want to support us.”
Creating a Strategy With Youth Voice at the Forefront
The youth grant-making strategy replicates the approach of other recent participatory grant makers. It recognizes that Baltimore’s young people have a clear understanding of what their communities need and where funds should be invested to support the healthy development of youth and young adults.
“Young people are routinely left out of important conversations and decisions that concern their lives, their families and their communities,” says Sara Cooper, a senior associate with the Casey Foundation. “The Youth Grantmakers Initiative is an incredible opportunity to give Baltimore’s youth a seat at the table as their ideas and experiences guide this important work.”
Over a six-month period, the group of youth and young adults, in partnership with staff from Baltimore’s Promise and the Casey Foundation, reviewed nearly 70 applications, conducted site visits and ultimately made final funding decisions. The group decided to focus on five areas that support older youth’s economic mobility and opportunity:
- individualized academic support;
- career exposure opportunities;
- mental health resources;
- safe spaces; and
- mentoring and positive intergenerational relationship building.
The decision to support youth ages 16 to 24 seeks to address a need illustrated by the findings of the Baltimore City Youth Opportunities Landscape, which showed that just 9% of the estimated programming seats available were allocated to young people who had left or graduated from high school.
A Promise to BMORE
The 10 grants — referred to collectively as “A Promise to BMORE” — ultimately prioritized smaller organizations with budgets that ranged between $40,000 to just under $1 million. Nine out of 10 of the grantee organizations are led by people of color and all serve youth in Baltimore City’s “Black Butterfly” neighborhoods.
“Baltimore’s Promise is committed to improving outcomes for Baltimore’s youth by creating more and better opportunities for — and with — older youth themselves. We believe that working together helps us support higher-quality programs because youth can identify the ones most aligned to their needs,” says Baltimore’s Promise CEO Julia Baez. “Baltimore’s Promise benefits enormously through this practice of intergenerational leadership and learning, innovating traditional approaches and creating more effective and audacious grant-making strategies together.”