The Baltimore Children & Youth Fund

The Baltimore Children and Youth Fund (the Fund) is a $12 million non-lapsing fund dedicated to supporting Baltimore’s children, youth, and young adults. The Fund was launched in 2015 by Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and approved by voters in November 2016 with over 80 percent support.

Introduction to the Fund:

In 2017, a Task Force of community leaders, youth program service providers, City government representatives and other key community representatives was convened to make recommendations on the Fund’s governance and operations. The Task Force presented recommendations which stressed the importance of racial equity and community empowerment as core principles guiding the Fund’s design, and developed the following guiding values under which to operate:

  • Our work is informed, driven and led by youth voices, and
  • Our work both advances equity and is welcoming and supporting of all races, classes and gender identities, and
  • Our work is accountable and impacts to local communities, neighborhoods and places where young people connect, and
  • Our work is not politically-driven and promotes confidence from the caring networks of Baltimore’s young people, and
  • Our work inspires new partnerships and new approaches to philanthropy to advance Baltimore’s young people, and
  • Our work is focused, expedient, and conducted with urgency.

Guiding Values and Principles

1) Racial Equity: The entire grant review process must be built on racial equity. We should clearly identify and directly address how society’s power structures show up in the operation of the Proposal Review Panel, including how assumptions about race may figure into the decision-making process. Specifically, white people should not dominate or drive the conversation. Additionally, the evaluation of different programs should include a basic understanding and appreciation of the cultural resources and assets within each community. 

2) Intergenerational Leadership: In the West we often greet each other by saying, “How are you doing?” The Maasai people of East Africa greet each other by asking, “How are the children?” This greeting represents the idea that the well-being of the children defines the well-being of the community. The purpose of the Fund is to help the whole city of Baltimore to embrace and live out the worldview embodied in this Maasai greeting. Specifically, the well-being of our children is everyone’s responsibility. The Proposal Review Panel must include youth leaders along with adults. Having different generations work together will reflect how our entire community must work together to improve the quality of life for our young people.

3) Community Ownership: The purpose of the Fund is to provide the communities typically seen as merely recipients of services with equal, authentic decision-making power to disperse the Fund’s resources. This means that the members of the Proposal Review Panel should reflect the totality of our community. Specifically, the Proposal Review Panel must include a variety of people who are highly committed to the communities they serve.

4) Collective Decision-Making: “Gatekeeping,” when one person has too much power in a decision-making process, marginalizes the people and communities who are most hurt by structural racism. Gatekeepers can use their power to circumvent community accountability and limit access to power and resources. Therefore, the Proposal Review Panel must structure its decision-making process to be collective, not individual. Specifically, the Proposal Review Panel will work together truly as a group to make decisions.




Task Force of community leaders, youth program service providers, Baltimore City government representatives, and other key stakeholder representatives met together to make recommendations concerning the management of the Fund.


Baltimore City community members helped set the Fund’s Year 1 investment priorities during six community design sessions in March and April 2018. At the community design sessions, Baltimore City residents — young people, youth-serving mentors and practitioners, youth and community advocates, and concerned adults — helped determine which children and youth needs and issues the Fund should prioritize in its first year.


A team of 26 young leaders and concerned adults gathered in a one-day retreat managed by Frontline Solutions in partnership with Two Gems Consulting Services  to analyze the data and insights gathered from the six community design sessions.  The recommendations from the Data Retreat were submitted to the Planning Team, who used them to structure the Fund’s Year 1 RFP.