Baltimore City’s Youth Opportunity Network
Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions has awarded the Baltimore City Opportunity Youth Collaborative funding from its Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund to reconnect out-of-school and out-of-work youth back into the economic life of Baltimore. The BCOYC is a cross-sector collaborative of government agencies, service providers, educational institutions, employers, and non-profits. This Collaborative is engaged in a collective impact effort to connect or reconnect Baltimore’s opportunity youth to the economic life of Baltimore by creating and enhancing pathways into post-secondary education, credentialing, and careers leading to family-supporting wages.
This strategy focuses heavily on relationship-building and a community organizing approach to access existing programs, pathways, and services, and partner with organizations to streamline what is in existence, link networks, reduce duplication, and expand the pie while limiting competition for scarce resources. For more information visit the BCOYC website at bcoyc.org.
The Youth Unlocked project evolved from a request from the Open Society Institute to impact the disproportunate representation of African American youth in the judicial system. We organized a series of dialogs between youth, community members and police designed to identify the challenges that lead to the disproportionately high rates of arrest and incarceration among youth of color. The concepts which arose from these dialogs led Ingoma Foundation to develop a pilot strategy to reduce the arrests of youth in Oldtown by 50% over three years that could be expanded across the City of Baltimore. This strategy seeks to prevent arrest by engaging youth in positive activity in their communities while also providing support to manage challenges and opportunities; to intervene in arrest by developing relationships with members of the juvenile justice system to support the use of alternatives to arrest, and to reduce detentions by supporting and advocating for the use of community-based detention alternatives. After launching in December of 2012 with funding from OSI, Youth Unlocked is currently engaged in intensive youth outreach within the community of Oldtown with the help of the Choice Program, the Family League, PICO National Network and ReWired for Change. This inaugural group will be trained and have completed 10 community projects by the end of the year. For more information, please visit the Youth Unlocked website at Youth Unlocked.
Ingoma Foundation supported the development of the Oldtown Redevelopment Plan adopted in 2010 in partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Planning, Sojourner-Douglass College and the Oldtown Change 4 Real Community Coalition. Ingoma has provided ongoing research, strategy development and networking support to Oldtown community stakeholders and their counterparts in local government to ensure that the voice and interests of the Oldtown community is reflected in future development plans. This plan forms the foundation of the holistic and sustainable redevelopment of the Oldtown neighborhood with an eye toward the development of sustainable, affordable housing and local ownership of commercial activity.
The Cohado Café and Venture Workshop will incorporate a retail storefront and café highlighting the products and entrepreneurial opportunities housed within. These include a technology training and development center teaching app development, 3D modeling and 3D printing, a wood and metal fabrication studio, a sewing enterprise, a rooftop aquaculture operation, a classroom for training in business development, skills and operations and offices. The Cohado Café will be dedicated to creating marketable products that can be sold wholesale and retail to sustain operations of the Workshop as well as the entrepreneurs engaged in the incubator. The Workshop will employ and train residents of the Oldtown in entrepreneurship and other marketable skills to enhance workforce development. Cohado Cafe Video
Ingoma Foundation developed the BenchMarks Artisan Training Project in cooperation with Gutierrez Studios, a Baltimore-based manufacturer of high-end architectural fixtures and contemporary furnishings, and initially funded by a seed grant from the Gutierrez Memorial Fund, to train economically challenged individuals in wood- and metal-working. The project successfully completed the first class of artisan trainees in basic woodworking with a 100 percent retention rate of participants. This project is the first of many innovative partnerships that provide training, employment, business development, and cooperative business ownership opportunities for individuals from economically disenfranchised communities. Through these innovative partnerships, we foster sustainable communities through incubating locally-owned and operated enterprises and providing economic development support. We are concentrating our efforts in the Oldtown community in East Baltimore to create leveraged impact for individuals and families, and to lift the community as a whole. This will model creative community economic development through concentrated small business development, thus stimulating economically sustainable communities. To find out more about our first project, the Ingoma/Gutierrez Craftsman Apprenticeship visit us at The Bench That Gives
Cohado is a game designed by Ingoma Foundation Founder and Director as a tool to introduce a new paradigm of “creating assets for the community and eliminating waste”. In order to manifest and demonstrate this idea, the makers of Cohado will be training individuals from the Oldtown area to do the pewter casting of the game pieces, and will become cooperative owners of the micro-business, Nurture Form Products, that will also produce the Bench That Gives.
The Button of Compassion