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Baltimore after-school center for at-risk youth plans to expand

Resource type: News

Baltimore Examiner |

Original Source

By Carolyn Peirce

An after-school center for at-risk youth in Baltimore hopes to reduce the number of high school dropouts through a $2 million grant to build more centers and improve programs providing students with technology training and support with their academics.

The Columbia-based U.S. Dream Academy, a nationally recognized program serving more than 800 high-risk students in 10 cities, including Baltimore, recently announced that a large donation will help fund 15 new centers and improve programs at the existing locations serving children in grades three through eight.

“All children deserve and desire a chance to succeed,” said Wintley Phipps, founder and president of the organization.

Between 80 and 100 children currently attend the academy daily at Collington Square Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore, but the grant will expand centers into other neighborhoods, which are still under consideration.

The grant came from The Atlantic Philanthropies, an organization based in Washington, D.C., that partners with grantees, other funders and governments to provide solutions for “urgent social inequities and injustices,” according to its mission statement.

Phipps said early intervention for at-risk youth could help cut down on one out of every three ninth-graders nationwide who drop out of school and become eight times more likely to end up in jail or prison than a high school graduate.

The funding will go toward the Dream Academy’s five-year plan to expand after-school youth programs and establish a system to monitor the programs’ effectiveness at the centers.

“We are committed to ensuring that all children and youth, regardless of background, receive the supports that they need to succeed in school and in life,” said Marcia Smith, vice president at The Atlantic Philanthropies.

The donation bolsters $900,000 in individual and corporate contributions raised earlier this year at the U.S. Dream Academy’s 10-year anniversary gala.

In addition, Oprah Winfrey made a $900,000 matching gift and pledged to match up to $500,000 in additional individual contributions to the Dream Academy through the end of 2008.

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