More than 70 young people from Southeast Baltimore are employed in the area thanks to the city's YouthWorks program and a coalition of five organizations from the area.
The youth, ages 14 and up, live in the Southeast neighborhoods where they work. Jennifer Robinson, Friends of Patterson Park executive director, said employing local youth helps organizations build lasting connections with members of the community.
"Youth are able to see an array of organizations that care about them and want to support them," she said.
Participants mulch trees, pick up trash and support maintenance activities at parks in Southeast Baltimore, Robinson said. They also take financial literacy classes, learn professional skills and visit local community colleges.
"We really think of it as exposing them to everything," Robinson said.
The organizations involved in the collaboration include Friends of Patterson Park, Banner Neighborhoods, the Southeast CDC, Living Classrooms and the Creative Alliance.
The youth conduct daily assesments of local areas, then work with program leaders to connect with the right city departments to solve the problem, Robinson said. Friends of Patterson Park received funding from a group of local philanthropies to hire a supervisor for the YouthWorks employees.
YouthWorks is a five-week citywide employment program for people between 14 and 21 years old. The city provides salaries for them to work in industries such as finance, law, government, health care and tourism. The program's second five-week session began Monday.
The program employs around 8,000 youth, the Mayor's Office of Employment Development said in June.
Youth employed by the Southeast Baltimore collaborative will work until July 29. Providing youth with job training opens the possibility for them to be hired by later in life, Robinson said. "That's the goal."