Reginald Moore, Baltimore’s director of recreation and parks, on Tuesday announced a $1 million investment in youth programming at 43 of the city’s recreation centers. Image via Facebook Live.
Reginald Moore, Baltimore’s director of recreation and parks, on Tuesday announced a $1 million investment in youth programming at 43 of the city’s recreation centers. Image via Facebook Live.

Baltimore City will invest $1 million in youth programming at the city’s recreation centers in an effort to provide more opportunities and positive outlets for the city’s young people.

Director of Recreation and Parks Reginald Moore on Tuesday announced that his department has partnered with Family League of Baltimore to improve the quality of community-based, Out-of-School Time (OST) programming at 43 of the city’s recreation centers.

State officials in 2019 approved a bill that designated $3.5 million annually for four years to Family League, serving as Baltimore City’s local management board, for the purpose of supporting the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund.

The city will use $1 million from the funding for recreational programming.

“Building a better Baltimore starts with investing in the success of our young people, not in their failures,” Mayor Brandon Scott said in a statement.

The $1 million will allow the city to add new programming, enhance existing programming, support educators and mentors, and strengthen collaborations between city agencies and community partners, said Faith Leach, deputy mayor for equity, health and human services.

“We know that our rec centers are more than just gym facilities for the people of Baltimore,” Leach said. “They are safe havens, they are classrooms, and they are places for them to cultivate and perfect their craft.”

Policing has failed to help Baltimore turn the corner on crime, State Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Baltimore City) said. Instead, he said the city needs to solve the issues that Baltimore’s young people face through community partnerships.

Demaune Millard, president and CEO of Family League of Baltimore, said Baltimore needs to shift its focus from being punitive to preventive when it comes to improving the health and safety of the city.

“One of the things we hear too much and hear too often is really with the focus in terms of how do we invest in enforcement,” he said. “There’s not enough conversation about being proactive and investing in prevention.”

Millard said investment in recreational programming will help young Baltimoreans find and follow the right path early in their lives. He quoted Maryland abolitionist Frederick Douglass, saying “It is easier to build strong children than fix broken men.”

Millard and Baltimore City Councilmember John Bullock (D-District 9) both said they are products of recreation centers. These centers are critical to “enrich the lives of young people,” Bullock said.

“When we invest in young people, we’re investing in the future of our city,” Bullock said. “These are going to be the folks who are going to lead our communities.”

But just as the presence of quality recreational opportunities can be a boon for communities, Bullock said their absence can be detrimental.

“If we don’t provide positive, structured activities and opportunities for young people, they wind up going the other way,” he said.

Moore said the investment will allow Rec and Parks to expand and enhance “a plethora of opportunities” for Baltimore youth, including robotics, STEM activities, dance, music and more.

The city’s nine youth council members, who represent different parts of the city, will talk with their peers to figure out what types of programming they want to see at recreation centers. Input from community meetings will also help inform what to add to recreational programming, Moore said.

“One of our goals is making sure we’re reaching every youth, regardless of if you have athletic ability or you have academic abilities or you have some special talent or skill,” he said. “We want everyone to be a part of our different recreation centers throughout the city of Baltimore.”

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