Support youth entrepreneurship in Baltimore City
Youth and young adults in Baltimore – like young people across our country – are born with talent, ideas, and dreams for the future. Too often these gifts go unrecognized and undeveloped. In Baltimore, for example, there have been decades of conversation about Squeegee Boys who work on corners washing windshields for a dollar or two.  There has been plenty said about “youth problems” and not nearly enough said about a systemic failure to engage, encourage, and empower our young people. Not enough has been said about how racism and classism compound the problem. When we close our recreation centers, criminalize outdoor play, and pathologize entrepreneurial young people, we deny the gifts of our youth.

On Friday, June 12th we will launch this new coalition in Baltimore locally and on Tuesday, June23, young people of Baltimore will join with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and its now on-line General Assembly for a national event.  We call on people in Baltimore and across the nation to act in solidarity with the young people of Baltimore and those who are fighting locally to dismantle the systems that do not allow all to be free and have access to lives that lead to wholeness.

Who is Youth Rising Coalition?
We are the Youth Rising Coalition; an ambitious group of likeminded 14 to 24 year old entrepreneurs and youth with a firm belief in job creation in Baltimore. In the city, employment is scarce. Youth do not wish to work in fruitless jobs earning below a living wage. Our solution is youth entrepreneurship and enterprise, allowing us to create opportunities for ourselves and our families, and be a model for other youth in the city. We are creative and full of hustle: all we need is the support of the community to improve our own lives and the lives of those like us. So, we are calling upon youth and adults, business owners, community leaders, youth organizations, and people wanting to put their faith into action, to support and join our movement.

Youth Rising Coalition Priorities:

1. Youth Empowering Youth Network – a space for youth to learn from each other, provide guidance from their own experience, problem solve, inspire each other, and identify common causes to work for systemic changes.  A way for youth to share their voices – to be seen and heard.

2. Marketing & Access to Markets -   youth want help moving from start-up and informal markets to reach new customers and develop their name and brand recognition.   They want access to new market spaces (brick & mortar and on-line).  

3.  Financial Support -   start-up capital (grants & loans) for youth get started and to grow their business to meet a larger customer demand.  They also want to strengthen their financial management and have greater access to banking and financing to move from an informal to formal economy.

4. Mentors & Consultants – a desire to be matched with older who can help youth entrepreneurs reach their business goals.  Particularly adults with direct expertise and who understand their context.

You are invited to sign this pledge as a sign that you support these youth and their 4 priorities.

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