Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: February, 2023


Unlike traditional grantmaking entities, BCYF is committed to authentic community engagement, and our strategy and grants decisions have been shaped by a range of Baltimoreans. BCYF partners with Baltimore residents themselves to decide how funds are spent and partners with other organizations that share our values.
Systemic change requires a systemic approach. We see racial equity and community engagement as essential to guiding our work, and they are embodied throughout the organization’s operations. We believe that in order to make the necessary investments in Baltimore’s young people, we must be guided by the voices of residents. By doing so, this is a radical approach to bring public resources into the hands of community-based programs working with our youth and young adults.

In November 2016, voters approved the creation of a youth fund. At the time, there was no guidance on how the fund was to operate. In 2017, a task force of community leaders, youth program service providers, City government representatives and other key community representatives was convened by then-Council President Young to make recommendations on the Fund’s governance and operations.
The group was Co-Chaired by Adam Jackson, CEO of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, and Dr. John Brothers, President of the Program for Charitable Giving at the T. Rowe Price Foundation, and included community leaders, youth program services providers and City government representatives.
The task force’s work culminated with recommendations to the City Council on how the new Children and Youth Fund should operate. These recommendations stressed the critical need to establish racial equity and community empowerment as core principles to guide the fund’s design, including these guiding values:

  • Our work is informed, driven and led by youth voices.
  • Our work both advances equity and is welcoming and supporting of all races, classes and gender identities.
  • Our work is accountable and brings benefits to local communities, neighborhoods and places where young people connect.
  • Our work is free from politics and promotes confidence from the caring networks of Baltimore’s young people.
  • Our work inspires new partnerships and new approaches to philanthropy to advance Baltimore’s young people.
  • Our work is focused, expedient and conducted with urgency.

These recommendations were shared with the Baltimore City Council and served as the basis for the legislation that institutionalized the youth fund.

Technical assistance (TA) can be broadly defined as any specialized service or skill that a nonprofit/organization/program does not currently possess, but may need in order to operate more effectively.
BCYF is committed to providing TA to challenge the traditional and historically harmful power dynamics of the philanthropic sector.
Creating a model for TA that incorporates the core values of BCYF will shift the dynamics of grantmaking by empowering communities, uplifting youth voices and strengthening grantee organizational capacity to ensure the delivery of equitable and effective programming to our youth. The TA plan incorporates these core values:

  • Eliminating barriers to funding confronting many local grassroots organizations.
  • Creating more opportunities for capacity building and technical assistance to strengthen community organizations.
  • Building community with local service providers.
  • Committing to achieving racial equity in the philanthropic sector.

BCYF will open a call for applications in Spring 2023.

Aligned grantmaking is the collaboration of grant making institutions to make a deeper investment in priority areas. For BCYF, this is an ongoing part of our grantmaking approach. 
  • Direct investment in organizations
  • Investments in building the infrastructure to allow grassroots organizations to receive funds
  • Aligned funding strategies to create larger grant opportunities and to push youth-serving institutions to be more responsive and equitable

Finances and Staffing

BCYF spent $5.6 million on grants and technical assistance and $871,000 on administration and public engagement between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Less than 15 percent of funds were spent on overhead.

BCYF Inc. has adopted a model of using consultants as we plan and develop the permanent organization and, eventually, hire permanent staff. BCYF’s consultants are highly qualified professionals in the non-profit and business sector, and each is charging a fee that is reasonable and competitive with industry standards. Their work is instrumental in accomplishing the long-term objectives of the fund that align with our values. Creating a brand new grantmaking institution that effectively aligns with the values of racial equity and implementing community-based practices is a heavy lift. Our consultants work falls into four broad areas:

  1. Operations
  2. Institution Building
  3. Capacity Building & Technical Assistance
  4. Grantee Management

Each of the consultants on our team is committed to ensuring the long-term success of BCYF. 

Since BCYF is funded by tax revenue,  information about its spending, including for grantmaking, technical assistance and administration,  is a matter of public record. If  you have questions about financial records, please submit a request under the Maryland Public Information Act.  

By law, BCYF is required to report annually to Baltimore City Council on its work. During that process, Baltimore City residents are encouraged to testify and give feedback on the work the organization has done.

We also strongly encourage residents to reach out to us directly if you have questions or concerns about BCYF. 

Institutional Formation

There is not enough public attention put to the work it takes to build an institution of this scale.  To date, BCYF has made major progress in establishing financial procedures, hiring practices, board composition and development, grant management, and many other areas. All require  considerable  time, energy and expertise.  BCYF over the past year has essentially been building a plane while flying it. 

Our team is creating a youth-centered culture and integrating youth development into day-to-day operations and decision-making.