By Tawanda W. Johnson,
Special to the AFRO

The Baltimore Children and Youth Fund (BCYF), an organization that stewards public funds to ensure that city youngsters have access to high-caliber enrichment and learning activities, will announce 60 new grantees this month, with awards totaling $8.4 million.  

Former City Council President Bernard “Jack” C. Young launched the fund in 2015 as a response to the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody – an incident that brought to light longstanding inequities in city funding of Black communities. 

“BCYF is a reminder of our commitment to the youth of Baltimore City,” said Alysia Lee, the organization’s president. “When 80 percent of the city voted to create the fund (in November 2016), the city affirmed that young people matter in Baltimore City. It takes a village to raise a child.”  

Lee said $13.6 million have been awarded to BCYF’s current 42 grantees, and since 2018, 123 organizations have received funding through the organization. She added that 25 of the upcoming grantees will be awarded money through BCYF’s grassroots fund – 80 percent of which are led by Black-led organizations. 

Lisa Molock, CEO of Let’s Thrive Baltimore, an organization founded in 2016 to help Baltimore families impacted by violence in the city, said BCYF has made a huge difference in the lives of young people. 

“The BCYF grant has allowed Let’s Thrive Baltimore an opportunity to (help) 50 students for 40 weeks out of the year (through) mentoring, healing activities, workforce preparation, conflict resolution and mediation training,” said Molock. “Over the last year, we have mediated over 100 conflicts among young people that could have resulted in violence.” 

Molock added that the fund has enabled her organization to enroll 150 youths in a summer enrichment program. 

“The goal is to help the participants with financial literacy, workforce development, coping strategies, problem solving and therapeutic activities to teach them to cope with trauma,” said Molock. 

J’aime Elskoe-Drayton, executive director of Baltimore Family Alliance, an organization that empowers families to advocate for great schools, safe streets and vibrant neighborhoods, said BCYF has also been crucial in supporting her organization’s work.

“We’ve been able to bring back our playground tour, which brings together our youngest Baltimoreans at local parks to meet and play,” she said. “We have increased our capacity from 10 family meet-ups to 24 family meet-ups in a year.” 

Elskoe-Drayton added that the Baltimore Alliance created and published a directory for Baltimore City, featuring more than 200 summer camps for city families. 

“The directory was downloaded by over 1,500 families in two months,” she said. “BCYF funding is critical, especially as COVID funds have diminished within the last 12 months.” 

To learn more about the Baltimore Children & Youth Fund, visit