Baltimore Youth to BCF: Trust Us!

November 04, 2016

Baltimore Community Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation respond to youth call for more investment in Baltimore’s future leaders through grants and other opportunities

Baltimore, MD (Oct. 31, 2016) – Shortly after the unrest sparked by the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore City in April 2015, 60 of Baltimore’s young people met at the Annie E. Casey Foundation to express their thoughts on Baltimore’s future, and how the philanthropic community could help move Baltimore forward. 

What they said was that they wanted more investment in youth leadership, not just through grantmaking from the philanthropic community, but also through additional opportunities to connect with other youth, share ideas and build networks that could develop the next generation of youth leaders in Baltimore. 

“The youth were the ones who were trying to see change happen, they are the social justice leaders that you are seeing on television, that you are seeing in your communities, that are trying to impact change,” says Dion Cartwright, Baltimore Community Foundation (BCF) program officer. “After the death of Freddie gray, the young people stood up – they wanted a voice; they wanted to be heard.”

View a video on our Youth Leadership for Change grants program featuring Dion Cartwright. 

BCF and the Casey Foundation, both longtime supporters of education and youth investment, heard these calls for more investment and responded. With funding from the Casey Foundation, BCF establish the Youth Leadership for Change grants program. This program – which earlier this year awarded its first round of grants totaling $150,000 to 16 organizations in Baltimore City –develops the next generation of Baltimore’s leaders and addresses pressing issues facing Baltimore youth. 

While grantmaking to organizations working with youth on the ground is the foundation of Youth Leadership for Change, the program also provides bi-monthly youth leadership training led by the Center for Leadership Innovation. Youth also are involved in the grant application review process. 

“We heard Baltimore’s youth,” said Tom Wilcox, BCF President & CEO. “They need more investment in leadership opportunities and ways to amplify the youth voice in the conversation about building a better Baltimore for all. The Youth Leadership for Change grants program is an important step in developing Baltimore’s next generation of leaders who will usher in an era where all have the opportunity to thrive.”

Examples from the first round of Youth Leadership for Change grants:

• At Owings Mills High School in Baltimore County, Casa de Maryland’s Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) program combines leadership development, community organizing, and cross-racial community building among students, school administration, staff and school police. This improves school climate, develops mechanisms for communication, and reduces overall incidents of violence, particularly interracial violence in and around the school. 

• In Baltimore City, the Baltimore Youth Kinetic Energy (BYKE) Collective is a youth-led program which focuses on giving youth personal and professional development through learning bicycle mechanics, safe ridership, community values and respect. It offers bike mechanics classes which can result in an internship opportunity with BYKE for participants, keeping “open shop” hours where youth can either work on their own bikes or help others, and organizing group rides to build safe riding habits for both youth and their families

The grant recipients in this first round of grants from the program represent a wide array of youth leadership initiatives and activities. Youth will be involved in activities like the development of a mobile app, a student government conference, or an “arts in business” leadership program.

The new grant program is part of BCF’s Neighborhood Grants Program, which invests in strengthening resident leadership and community organizations, helping neighborhoods to become and remain safe, clean, green and vibrant.

Grant recipients and program descriptions are listed below. The next cycle of application for the Youth Leadership for Change grants will begin in 2017. 

A recent episode of BCF’s 20-Minute Update series detailed the inspiration behind the Youth Leadership for Change grants. Listen here: 

Afrikan Youth Alchemy Citywide - $10,000 for the Griot’s Eye project to form a youth video production team that will produce a documentary film that explores the historical development and current conditions of Baltimore’s public housing projects.

Baltimore Dance Crews Citywide - $8,200 for the Young Teaching Artists Institute, an artist residency program for high schoolers that incorporates personal, artistic and career mentorship to transform young Hip-Hop dancers into paid afterschool program providers. 

Baltimore Youth Kinetic Energy (BYKE) Collective - $10,000 for general operating expenses of the collective, which focuses on giving youth personal and professional development through learning bicycle mechanics, safe ridership, community values and respect.

Banner Neighborhoods - $5,000 for the Leveraging Income for Tomorrow (LIFT) program, a youth led project aimed at helping underprivileged youth gain the essential tools necessary for employment. 

CASA de Maryland - $10,000 for the Student Problem Identification and Resolution of Issues Together (SPIRIT) program which combines leadership development, community organizing, and cross-racial community building among students, school administration, staff and school police.

Hamilton-Lauraville Healthy Neighborhoods - $10,000 for the Student Government Association Conference, which will invite local student governments to a conference to learn about developing a leadership voice, managing financial literacy, engaging with school administration, advocating for social change and building personal character.

International Rescue Committee - $10,000 for the Youth Compass Collective, a workshop series dedicated to providing asylee youth aged 15 to 20 with an opportunity to develop a positive sense of belonging through peer-supported healthy youth development and therapeutic artistic expression.

The Intersection - $10,000 for the 235 Lives Campaign, a youth-led campaign to pass the Children & Youth Investment Act through city council using political and civic engagement strategies. 

Intersection of Change (Jubilee Arts)- $10,000 for the Art in Business program, a youth leadership/entrepreneurship development program for middle and high school students from the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore. 

McElderry Park Youth Council - $9,500 to fund several program activities, including outreach, marketing, youth development and leadership training, and youth programming.

My Sister's Circle - $10,000 for the Summer Leadership Institute, the centerpiece of which is a college preparatory course that helps students learn qualitative and quantitative skills, and focuses on the structural causes of inequity in Baltimore. 

New Lens - $10,000 for its Junior Team, a youth-led filmmaking and organizing project in which the group chooses a topic with societal impact and explores it in a film. 

Parks and People Foundation - $10,000 for youth “Branches teams” to create and maintain green spaces in their neighborhoods, improve quality of life and encourage additional investments which improve the urban environment.

Wide Angle Youth Media - $7,300 to support a youth-led effort to build the The Never Late Nate Mobile App to help children in grade kindergarten through third grade learn the importance of school attendance.

Youth As Resources - $10,000 for general operating expenses, and to help the Youth As Resources youth board participate in specialized youth leadership training opportunities. 

Youth Empowered Society - $10,000 for the YES Leaders Group, which engages youth interested in raising awareness and influencing policy which affects homeless youth. 


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