Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The Baltimore City Council listened intently Monday to a proposal to allow “the actual citizens of Baltimore” to decide how to distribute $12 million among community organizations that work with children.
Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, who leaked his ideas hours before the planned City Council meeting, said the Associated Black Charities would initially take control of the fund that voters authorized last November. After the program’s first year, a new group would be created to do the work.
“Early in my career I thought it would be a good idea… dedicating a specific percentage of city [funds] for a program for children in need,” Young told the council members. “The one thing that I am most proud of is the fact that rather than politicians having the final say, the actual citizens of Baltimore … will be the ones deciding how it is spent.”
Associated Black Charities, also known as ABC, is a non-profit organization with a very precise mission statement. The website said: “Associated Black Charities is a public foundation that advocates and facilitates the creation of measurably healthier and more prosperous communities through responsible leadership and philanthropic investment throughout the State of Maryland.”
ABC officials said the charities also stand for “tackling the disparities that disproportionately affect communities of color in Maryland.”
“Our most precious resource, our children, that’s how important they are to our great city,” said Young who was joined by District 14 Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke in sponsoring the bill.
Young said all organizations must be given a fair opportunity to receive funding from ABC, from the largest to the smallest. He added that the list of awardees also must include organizations that never received funding before.
The voter-mandated Youth Fund received about $12.1 million in taxpayer money on July 1. The amount is based on the value of assessable property, which city officials estimated at $40.4 billion.
Young told reporters he plans for the bill to pass before the end of 2017 but the legislation first must be introduced, followed by a public hearing and work session.
Council members and city residents said interest and support for the idea are picking up steam.