Johns Hopkins will hire between 200 and 300 Baltimore youths this summer, an investment in the city that will coincide with a "major expansion" of local hiring, purchasing and contracting in the next month, University President Ronald Daniels announced Monday.
The efforts — which also included school partnerships and the hiring of more than 120 ex-offenders in the past year — were planned before the unrest over the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent spike of violence in the city, Daniels said. But the events galvanized many at the state's largest private employer and "intensified" the push to invest in the community, he said.
Daniels did not give any specifics on the investment, such as a timeline or a dollar amount, but he said Hopkins will set "clear targets and hold ourselves accountable to those targets."
"Hopkins is determined to discharge our obligation to make change happen in this city, and we will do our level best to persuade others to join," Daniels said.
His comments, and speeches from political and faith leaders, brought repeated standing ovations from an audience packed into a balmy St. Peter Claver Church in Sandtown-Winchester.
Gray, 25, died in April a week after he suffered a severed spine in police custody after being arrested in the same West Baltimore neighborhood. His death set off weeks of protests that turned into riots, which prompted a citywide curfew, a state of emergency and a National Guard deployment.
Many in the crowd were members of Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development, also known as BUILD, which organized the Monday night event, entitled "From Slogan to Strategy." Others included political leaders, such as several members of the City Council and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
"You are the agents of hope," Cummings said. "There are so many people who have lost hope. So many people who do not feel as though they have a liberated future. ... You make people realize that they are not victims; they are victors."