Carlessia Hussein: Inspiring Donors by Investing in Youth
December 04, 2015
“Young African American and Hispanic men are an endangered species,” declares Dr. Carlessia Hussein. “Too many populate juvenile justice facilities, circulate through local jails and detention sites, are expelled from school, and survive on the streets. We must find ways to remove the obstacles that block opportunities for these young men.”
Hussein, a health equity expert and consultant, has embraced this commitment. She has established the donor-advised Carlessia Hussein Minority Opportunity Fund at BCF to support programs to guide minority middle school boys toward success. She views her emphasis on male youth as “a gift for females” as well, balancing a cohort who can “travel the same path toward becoming productive citizens, supportive parents, and outstanding leaders.”
She has a deep well of experience on which to draw, having provided health care for 50 years as a nurse, public health educator and policy expert in California, Maryland and Washington, D.C. “I tracked minority diseases, published reports, and influenced policy,” she recalls. “I worked with Maryland elected officials to pass the first law to reduce minority health disparities, which are multigenerational and require sustained, systemwide interventions."
Her fund provides grants to nonprofits in Baltimore and Central Maryland that provide summer enrichment, mentorship, recreation, counseling, crisis intervention support, or academic assistance to middle-school aged boys. As her fund has developed, she aspires to scale up her grantmaking to reach all boys in poverty with the expansion of programs that provides support through high school. “It takes a village to raise a child,” she says, “so partnerships must be established with other community programs that value diversity and make possible cross racial bonding and teamwork to build healthy communities in the future.”
One organization that has benefited from the fund’s support is Middle Grades Partnership, a BCF initiative that pairs independent and public schools to provide summer enrichment programming. It’s an opportunity for young people of differing backgrounds to share knowledge and build friendships.
“MGP has a highly talented and committed staff who work with their students in an individualized manner,” she says. “They also provide services year round. Continuity is the missing element in most programs like this. I am pleased to fund youth who will have an opportunity for long term support.”
“I searched far and wide to find a foundation with a focus on building communities and the people in them,” she says. “The Baltimore Community Foundation has the right vision, the right location, and the right staff and leadership.”
She hopes that her fund will not only inspire youth but also donors who can help further her goals.
“Ordinary people with big hearts can do a lot to make this world a better place,” she says. “Maybe others with a similar commitment will join me.”
Visit the web page for Dr. Carlessia Hussein’s fund at https://www.opportunity-and-health.com.
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