With the regular school year over, Baltimore cultural institutions are offering 100 field trips to youth-serving summer programs as part of the new “Field Trip Fridays” initiative.
Councilmember Zeke Cohen, nonprofit organizations Baltimore’s Promise and The Fund for Educational Excellence, and local institutions collaborated to launch the initiative, which aims to give the youth enriching experiences across Baltimore City.
“Field Trip Fridays offers a prototype for collaboration in our city,” Cohen said in a statement. “This serves as an incredible example of city government, nonprofit partners and our city’s anchor institutions working together to solve problems. I called, they answered, and every single one opened their doors and put out the welcome mat for our kids.”
Cohen and Baltimore’s Promise worked to identify youth programs who could apply for $1,500 grants, which can be used for field trips or admission to local cultural institutions.
“Summer is a time that Baltimore’s youth should be engaged, having fun, and connecting with all that is great about our communities and our City,” said Julia Baez, Executive Director of Baltimore’s Promise. “Baltimore’s Promise and the Summer Funding Collaborative are excited to partner to create new and enhanced summer opportunities for Baltimore’s young people. We look forward to building on this partnership for many summers to come.”
The participating cultural institutions include Port Discovery, National Aquarium, Baltimore Museum of Art, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Maryland Science Center, American Visionary Art Museum, Maryland Center for History and Culture, The Walters Art Museum, and Maryland Zoo.
Carter Polakoff, president of Port Discovery, one of the institutions that are part of the field trip initiative, said opportunities to engage youth are a major priority.
“Port Discovery is thrilled to be supporting efforts to help provide summertime opportunities that keep Baltimore’s youth engaged and thriving,” Polakoff said in a statement. “I know that I speak for so many institutions, from all corners of the city, when we say that our top priority is and has always been to support the well-being and growth of children in our city. And by supporting our young people, by extension we support the overall well-being of our community at-large.”
Earlier this year, Cohen urged Baltimore City Public Schools to bring back their pre-pandemic five-day summer school week to keep youth engaged. The call came after City Schools reported it would be closed some Fridays over the summer.
One program provider is Elev8 Baltimore, which provides summer programming to youth in Southwest Baltimore. The nonprofit’s executive director, Alexandria Warrick Adams, said it is important for Baltimore youth to have programming throughout the week.
“As a summer program provider, I’m excited for the children and youth of Baltimore to have the opportunity to have access to summer programs five days a week,” Adams said in a statement. “If we keep young people at the center of our decisions, together we can identify sustainable pathways that keep them safe and supported.”
Open Society Institute, in collaboration with The Fund for Educational Excellence, provided the donation to support the grants.
The general public will also have access to extended hours and free or reduced admission at some of the institutions.