Community activists in Baltimore seek to run summer program for formerly incarcerated youth
Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle (LBS) is a youth oriented organization focused on advocating for progressive policy change to advance youth justice. In the course of the work we've done in our home of Baltimore, we've seen no bigger in justice than the systemic failure of criminal justice system to pursue rehabilitative justice for formerly incarcerated youth. Since there seemed to be a consistent tendency to favor incarceration over rehabilitation, we decided to marshal our resources and the resources of our community to serve this vital function.
The “Keep us Home” idea includes a cookout and a concert, but it's not just another block party. This will be the culmination of a Summer program specifically targeted toward formerly incarcerated youth and serves as a community organizing and support tool for our future work.
LBS will recruit from our networks a pool of recently released youth and run a Summer program that combines teaching music/artistic skills with political education and personal development. Taught by LBS executive staff members and members from the community, the program will focus on giving youth both the academic theory/fact on youth justice and practical advise from peers who have personal experience overcoming the obstacles they now face. As part of the program the youth will produce an artistic piece (rap, spoken word, etc) and present it at a community cookout celebrating their accomplishment in finishing the program.
The event will be billed as a “potluck”, where attendees will be implored to not only bring food, but to also bring what ever they can offer to assist the youth in their transition back into the community. The idea is to give youth a clear sign of community support and to create a space where the community can put all its resources (both figuratively and literally) on the table at one time and in a central location. Things we would be looking for are not just traditional gifts (cloths, money, etc), but those would be accepted. The intent if for people to reach into their networks and see what opportunities they can present to these youth; a business cards of someone they know looking to hire, a certificate for GED classes donated from a teacher, SAT and college prep books and software, positions on youth advisory boards or invitations to youth centered camps and programs. The presentation of these types of opportunities will give allow the youth meaningful support as the walk the path toward career and college with a community behind them, not trying to “save” them, but walking with them as they propel themselves forward.
Finally, we have connected with the Moment for Peace, Justice and Dignity to support their "End the Drug War" Caravan for Peace. Originated in Mexico City, and consisting of over one hundred activists, poets, and scholars, this national effort seeks to raise awareness on the issue of the federal drug policies which, as The Wire so vividly illustrated, is one of the issues most clearly impacting Baltimore City. Our community celebration on September 8th will be the community engagement event for the caravan when arrives in Baltimore, making this a unique opportunity for sharing diverse, cross cultural knowledge on critical social justice issues.
To do this we need money to run the summer program (buy supplies pay instructors, rent space) and put on the community event (rent a sound system, pay rental fees for the park, and buy LOTS of food).
At our tipping point of $1000, we can cover the fees of running the summer mentoring program. While we feel ensuring the success of the community celebration is important, the most crucial part of this venture is the skills we seek the impart to youth in need. Hitting our tipping point would also ensure that the students could get access to a recording studio to produce their artistic pieces. We've found that this artistic expression can be extremely cathartic for youth who have undergone these types of experiences, and as such we strongly believe hitting our minimum donation level will make a substantial, lasting impact on the youth we hope to serve.
All told we need around $3,000 to run the program to maximum efficency. The funds from this campaign will go directly toward buying the resources to make this vision a reality.
Thanks in Advance,
Leaders of Beautiful Struggle
Summer Program Costs
Renting space: $300.00
Paying for camera people- $200.00
Food For youth during mentoring sessions: $200.00
Renting studio time: $300.00
Community Celebration Costs
Get permits for the space- $100
Print fliers for promotion- $150
Print educational materials to hand out - $250
Rent a sound system- $125
Rent a generator-$125
Buying food - $1,000.