Re-Connecting Baltimore’s Youth to Education, Jobs and Brighter Futures
Baltimore is home to 18,000 disconnected youth – young people ages 16 to 24 who are neither working nor in school. Several organizations are working collaboratively to create new paths to opportunity for these young people. JOTF joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore’s Promise, Baltimore Metropolitan Council and the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative to host a forum on June 9th discussing Baltimore’s Opportunity Youth and how we can strengthen Baltimore’s approach to re-engaging this particular population.
Tomi Hiers, Executive Director of Baltimore's Promise first offered an overview of the two reports and executive summary released earlier this year by the host organizations on Baltimore's Opportunity Youth population. This researched detailed the magnitude of the issue and highlighted key recommendations for tackling this urgent problem to ensure a promising future for Baltimore's youth. Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development, moderated a panel of speakers including Simran Sidhu, Executive Director of YouthBuild Philadelphia, Ranita Jain the Senior Evaluation Manager of the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative, Shawnice Jackson from the National Council of Young Leaders, Darleen Won, Director of Population Heath for LifeBridge Health and Jo-Ann Williams, Chair of the BWIB Youth Council. The panel offered insight into the recommendations for responding to this challenge, focusing on expanding industry-specific training programs, fostering more collaboration between organizations and providing expanded supports for youth to help them succeed.
Following the panel discussion, Danielle Torain, Senior Associate from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, led a community conversation where forum participants reacted to ideas presented by the panel and brainstormed ways to advance the ten key recommendations of the reports. Elisabeth Sachs, Executive Director of the Job Opportunities Task Force, along with Linda Dworak, Director of the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, ended the forum with a final call to action to address Baltimore's Opportunity Youth population. The Baltimore City Opportunity Youth Collaborative will host a conference in the Spring of 2017 that will build on the June 9th forum and seek to bring stakeholders together to act on the key recommendations from the reports.