Empowering Youth Leaders and Supporting Social Justice

January 11, 2016

by Dion Cartwright, Program Officer

Following the Baltimore uprising in April,  BCF participated in a youth leadership and  philanthropy meeting hosted by the Annie E.  Casey Foundation. During that meeting, we  heard from many of Baltimore’s youth that  they were interested in building youth leadership, empowering the youth  voice for social justice and increasing youth engagement opportunities. 

For over twenty-five years, BCF has focused on supporting ways to engage  residents of all ages in communities in Baltimore City and County through our Neighborhood Grants Program, but one area that continues to be a  challenge is getting older adult residents to engage youth residents, get their  perspectives and provide opportunities for the youth to take a leadership role  in things that impact not only the community but their individual lives. 

The Baltimore Community Foundation aims to increase the livability of Baltimore neighborhoods and develop and support community leaders to be advocates for issues that are important to them. The Annie E. Casey Foundation aims to build the capacity of leaders to achieve better results, transform disinvested neighborhoods, and raise awareness of critical issues impacting communities. It’s a natural fit for the two foundations to work together to build leadership and engagement opportunities for Baltimore’s young people. 

With financial support from the Casey Foundation, BCF has created the Youth Leadership for Change grant program that will provide not only funding, but networking, training and technical assistance opportunities to youth-led and -driven nonprofit organizations in Baltimore. Grants of up to $10,000 each will support projects and/or programs targeted at addressing issues in the community, projects that foster new youth leaders or improve existing leadership in the community, and that build the confidence, knowledge, skills, and collective leadership of youth while addressing the root causes of injustice and inequity in their lives.

But these grants go beyond the dollars. In addition to providing funding, BCF will provide the grant recipients the opportunity to build their organizational and individual skills. Through trainings and workshops, technical assistance, networking and the convening of Baltimore’s youth and adult leaders, BCF will help to build a youth leadership pipeline that empowers our youth leaders and helps prepare them to be a voice for our city.  

There’s an old quote that says, “keep true to the dreams of our youth.” If we want to know the dreams of our youth, we must ask them. If we want to help our youth fulfill their dreams, we must empower them. If we want Baltimore to thrive, it must be a place where people of all ages, races and backgrounds have an opportunity to be heard and where resources are offered that translate ideas into action.  

Learn more about this grant program on our Neighborhood Grants Program web page.

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