Baltimore Youth Initiative Issues Grants to 10 Organizations

Posted February 15, 2023
Three young people of color stand, smiling, in front of a colorful graffiti wall.

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.”

Dis­cov­er how the Casey Foun­da­tion is engag­ing Bal­ti­more residents

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