The Baltimore Children & Youth Fund has committed $5.5 million on initiatives that will connect young people with work and learning opportunities, the organization announced on Thursday.

As part of a new $5.5 million commitment, the organization will support four initiatives.

The Baltimore Children & Youth Fund will provide $1 million to Baltimore City Intergenerational Initiatives for Trauma and Youth, a coalition of grassroots organizations addressing youth violence and trauma in central west Baltimore.

The fund will also provide $1.5 million to Fusion Partnerships, the fiscal sponsor of 120 Baltimore City programs, over a three-year period.

“BCYF recognizes the urgent need for stronger fiscal sponsorship institutions in Baltimore to better allow public funds to be invested in community-based organizations and to meet rising demand from programs seeking fiscal sponsorship,” fund officials said in a statement.

Said Dion Cartwright, board chair of the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund: “[O]ur investment in Fusion will pay long-term dividends by strengthening the city’s ability to support small and promising nonprofits.”

Third, YouthWorks, which helps youth improve their career readiness, will receive a $1 million investment from the fund.

YouthWorks connects people ages 14-21 with summer jobs at private, nonprofit and city and state government employers in Baltimore, where they can gain workforce readiness and career-specific skills.

Partnering with and investing in the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, the fund will build YouthWorks capacity to serve more young people.

“This partnership will be focused on ensuring that more young people not only have access to summer and year-round jobs, but that they also have a quality and supportive experience while participating in the program,” fund officials said.

The partnership will also work with Baltimore-area partners to increase their capacity to host young people from YouthWorks and “create mutually beneficial experiences that center young people’s needs, dreams and interests,” fund officials said.

The fourth initiative will be a $2 million investment in the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative, which is a partnership between public, private and nonprofit organizations to support “high-quality” summer programs for Baltimore children and youth from low-income backgrounds.

The funding announced this week from the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund will support the Baltimore Summer Funding Collaborative’s grants for Summer 2022. Organizations will be able apply for that round of grants starting in October 2021.

The Baltimore Children & Youth Fund was created amid the uprising following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, and is designed to collect tax dollars and distribute them to community-selected youth programs. Then-City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young helped spearhead the fund’s creation, and voters approved it in 2016.

“BCYF is excited to make these investments in strong organizations like B-CIITY, YouthWorks, Summer Funding Collaborative and Fusion Partnerships,” Cartwright said in a statement. “We continue to focus on building the infrastructure to sustain the Youth Fund over the long term. This interim strategy ensures that we are supporting programs that provide our young people with opportunities to grow and thrive.”

The Baltimore Children & Youth Fund will not solicit new grant applications until the second quarter of 2022. Instead, the fund will focus on supporting youth-serving community organizations with grantmaking and technical assistance.

Young told Baltimore Fishbowl last year that he had wanted to establish the fund to support organizations that had historically been underfunded.

“I pulled my team together and said, ‘Look, I want to make more opportunities for our young people and more opportunities for grassroots organizations that are on the ground really doing all of the critical work to engage our young people, who normally can’t get funding from the largest philanthropic organizations,’” Young said.

The fund has provided $18.8 in grants to 79 organizations to date, with two-thirds of those grantees being organizations led by people of color.

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Marcus Dieterle

Marcus Dieterle is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. He returned to Baltimore in 2020 after working as the deputy editor of the Cecil Whig newspaper in Elkton, Md. He can be reached at marcus@baltimorefishbowl.com...