AmeriCorps officials are touting a $4.4 million federal grant to support youth development, education and workforce programs in Baltimore, a city rocked by riots following the death of a young black man while in the custody of police.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) grant will support more than 630 AmeriCorps members and will be paired with an additional $3.8 million in local support to help urban youth who are not on a college or career path. Youth participating in the program will be eligible to earn up to $2.5 million in AmeriCorps education scholarships to help pay for college, vocational training or pay back student loans.
“AmeriCorps and Senior Corps are powerful and proven solutions to community needs across the nation. I am confident that the work of our national service volunteers will have a significant impact on Baltimore and its young people,” says Wendy Spencer, CNCS CEO.
AmeriCorps members will tutor and mentor youth, build and repair homes, mentor ex-prisoners and youth offenders, clean neighborhoods and help low-income communities access healthy food. This summer a, six AmeriCorps teams will carry out projects in Baltimore, serving more than 17,500 hours to prevent summer reading loss, expand learning opportunities, serve meals and participate in enrichment activities with children.
Most of the AmeriCorps members serving in Baltimore will be supported through a grant overseen by the Maryland governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV). Later this summer, GOSV will distribute more AmeriCorps grants to support additional Maryland AmeriCorps programs.
Funding will go for:
- The Choice Program: AmeriCorps members will provide community-based case management services, job readiness training and mentoring to reduce youth involvement in crime and gangs.
- Teach for America Maryland: AmeriCorps members will serve as teachers in 115 schools for low-income students, resulting in improved academic performance among beneficiaries.
- Greater Homewood Community Corporation: AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates will implement a pilot program to address the needs of men and women existing in the prison system.
- Civic Works Service Corps: AmeriCorps members will leverage volunteers to educate students, make housing more affordable and help low-income communities learn about healthy food.
- Notre Dame Mission Volunteers Program: AmeriCorps members will provide tutoring and small group instruction to disadvantaged K-12 students. Members will also work with low-income adults to improve their employment skills.
Baltimore has long been a city with deep service roots, federal officials said, but the city has recently been rocked by a series of riots following the death – allegedly at the hands of abusive police officers — of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. Six Baltimore police officers have been criminally charged in the case. Some of the officers are white. Many of the rioters appeared to be young people who clashed with police, throwing rocks and burning down inner city buildings. Community activists complained that discriminatory housing policies, the decline of manufacturing, the rise of mass incarceration and the lack of opportunities for African American boys and youth. All were festering problems that boiled to the surface with the death of Gray.
CNCS recently closed the Youth Opportunity AmeriCorps (CFDA Number: 94.006) grants, which distributed $2.3 million for multiple awards. The 24-month grants went to projects across the country that strengthened communities and foster civic participation through service learning and volunteering. A new rounded of grants is to open later this year or early next year. The most recent NOFA can be found here.