The cover image of OSI-Baltimore’s report “Young, Gifted and Underfunded.”
The cover image of OSI-Baltimore’s report “Young, Gifted and Underfunded.”

A new report by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore says that while funding given to youth-led organizations increased in the wake of the Baltimore Uprising, the amount of money received by these groups is still “nominal.”

Less than 1 percent of grants awarded by nonprofit foundations of all types went to youth-led groups from 2012-2016.

“This disparity holds true even when the work being funded is specific to youth as opposed to general community needs,” the report states.

During a focus group, young leaders expressed frustrations with the grant process and certain requirements such as establishing a legal entity for an organization or providing data, suggesting that these requirements put up barriers.

“Taken together, these challenges—application processes, learning the ‘language’ of
philanthropy, eligibility and reporting requirements, and having to figure out how to fit
their non-traditional ideas or approaches into the traditional frameworks and approaches
set forth by foundations—communicate to youth leaders that foundations do not trust or
value their expertise because of their age,” the report says.

Leaders also felt that foundations were more likely to give grants to “white organizations
to drop into black neighborhoods to do work that aligns with the foundation’s
interests or needs, but does not align with the community’s interests or needs,” the report says.

OSI-Baltimore makes suggestions for both foundations and youth-led organizations to open the lines of communication. Among them, foundations can consider how their best practices might create barriers to youth-led groups, and young leaders can ask for feedback when a grant request is denied.

“This report is a call to all of us at local foundations to understand the new structures that emerging activists are employing to carry out their work, the desire of youth leaders to build their capacity, and the ways in which youth leaders believe we can be helpful,” OSI-Baltimore Director Diana Morris says in a press release. “Collectively, we must create more opportunity and space for Baltimore’s young people to act on their own behalf and move our city forward.

OSI-Baltimore is planning a series of events that will bring together local funders and youth leaders.

The full report, titled “Young, Gifted and Underfunded,” can be read here.

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Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...