The gymnasium at Reginald F. Lewis High School was filled Saturday with people with ideas on how to improve the lives of Baltimore’s young people.
And they were all hoping to tap into the $12 million Baltimore Children and Youth Fund to turn those ideas into fruition.
The youth fund is a pool of money, first proposed by Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and approved by voters in 2016, to provide grants to youth organizations that have typically been unable to get government funding for their projects in the past.
The deadline to apply for the grants is July 9.
Representatives from youth groups from around the city were at Reginald Lewis to get last-minute tips on applying for the funds. The event was the last of three held by Associated Black Charities, which was hired by the city to oversee the grant-awarding process, negotiate contracts with grant-winners and follow-up with winners to make sure the money is being used appropriately.
The need for Baltimore to invest in better opportunities for youth took center stage after the death of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries suffered while in police custody in 2015.
There has been large interest in the grants, organizers said, with 167 people registered for Saturday’s event.
Many had never applied for a grant and were getting first-time tips. They were groups that have cobbled together money through small fundraisers, such as raffles. Others had applied for grants in the past, but never received one. Those people wanted tips on how to make their applications stronger.
Tiffany Jones wants to start a program named Pee Wee’s Place for young boys in the Cherry Hill neighborhood that teaches them life skills. The organization, in honor of a son that was murdered, would also include a component where she would take the boys to clean up trash in neighborhoods. She would pay the boys a stipend for their work. She said grants often go to the more established organizations.