ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has announced the first round of Youth Engagement Programming (YEP!) grant recipients. Thirteen local organizations have received grants ranging from $11,000 to $99,000. These grants promote youth activities and engagement in Howard County through free, accessible, and supportive programming developed by nonprofit and community organizations. Pictures from the announcement can be found here.

Our empowering YEP! grants are designed to support nonprofit organizations that are expanding or creating new programs for youth in Howard County, with a particular focus on mental health, wellness, and social-emotional learning. These organizations will be offering new, innovative, and expansive programs that support young people, mostly between the ages of 10 and 18 in our community. Many of these organizations are leveraging community partnerships to expand their reach. YEP! programs will include opportunities for mentorship, tutoring, sports programs, environmental education, technology workshops, entrepreneurship, leadership development, and so much more.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The 13 community organizations that have been awarded the first round of grants are:

  • Biz Kidz Academy
  • Columbia Community Care’s PUSH Program
  • The Howard County Conservancy
  • The Center for Creative Life and Learning
  • VolunTeens
  • A-OK Mentoring and Tutoring
  • Camp Attaway
  • Consult Lemonade
  • The Pearl Foundation
  • St John Baptist Church
  • Get on the Bus
  • Howard Community College
  • The Howard County Chinese School

“Investment in our youth is an investment not only in their future, but in the future of our entire community,” said Howard County Council Chair Christiana Rigby. “These grants promote the connections our youth so deeply desire in Howard County.”

“I sincerely thank County Executive Dr. Ball, for his steadfast support and dedicated leadership ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to excel and thrive,” said Councilmember Opel Jones. “YEP! is an amazing grant opportunity that focuses on social-emotional learning, mental health, wellness, and stimulating activities. Moreover, I am excited that many of the nonprofits will call the Oakland Mills Village Center home!”

The education and activities for our children outside of our schools is just as important as the learning that takes place within them. That’s why I’m so pleased to see Howard County supporting social-developmental and community-building activities for youth through county grants and partnerships with non-profit community organizations. The YEP awards will go a long way towards promoting programs and activities for our young people throughout our county.

Clarence Lam
Maryland State Senator

“One of the things I really appreciate about this initiative is that it’s about meeting a need in our community, but even more so, it’s about creating an opportunity and cultivating an asset,” said State Delegate Jessica Feldmark. “Recognizing that our youth are an asset for our community, that we can learn from them, and that engaging them adds value and strengthens our community.”

Ball’s announcement was made at the Columbia Association Youth and Teen Center in Oakland Mills. Dannika Rynes, Columbia Association Manager of Communications, noted, “Our team continues to evolve and grow CA offerings as the needs of youth and teens change. We recognize that we show up to our fullest potential when working with the partners also pursuing our shared mission. CA applauds the county's efforts to support both new and ongoing initiatives that ensure our young people have places and spaces where they feel seen and heard, and we look forward to continued collaboration across the community to make that happen."

As part of the grant conditions, chosen organizations will offer opportunities like mentorship, tutoring, sports programs and more to support young people mainly between the ages of 10 and 18.  Programming supported by this grant funding must at least take place on the weekends and/or weekday evenings. 

Marlene Jackson, Founder and CEO of Biz Kidz Academy said, “As today’s youth become increasingly overwhelmed with emotional insecurities, physical changes, and social challenges, it is vital that we offer them the opportunities, resources, and tools required to address these challenges. By fostering their self-awareness, problem-solving, critical thinking, and leadership skills, we provide our youth with the foundation required to truly become the promise of our future.”

“Today, young people have more tools to connect with peers than at any other time in history, yet feelings of social isolation and mental health issues in youth are at an all-time high because they lack opportunities for meaningful in-person engagement with their peers,” said Sue Anne Shafley, Executive Director, Camp Attaway. ‘To combat this County Executive Calvin Ball has funded innovative Youth Engagement Programming to ensure young people of Howard County can connect with their peers outside of school in ways that facilitate their social and emotional well-being in a fun and positive way.”

Applications for grants for the YEP! Program were announced in early March. Recipients may use this funding to expand current successful programs that their organization is already offering. If grant funding is used to support and expand existing programming, the proposal should demonstrate how this grant funding will contribute to increasing youth engagement in Howard County.

“I believe this grant is exactly the ‘push’ the PUSH program needed. It shows the commitment that the county must supporting our youth,” said Saquan Maxwell, director of the PUSH Program of Columbia Community Care.

"This funding will allow us to expand the Youth Climate Institute into six additional high schools in Howard County. YCI not only provides climate and science education, but through community action projects students make strong connections with their peers and community mentors. YCI focuses on positive action and solutions to address climate anxiety and help young people feel empowered about their futures," said Meg Boyd, Executive Director of Howard County Conservancy.

“We’re so grateful for this opportunity. Thank you to Dr. Ball. Thank you for the vision. Thank you for allowing us to expand our touch and our reach as we continue to do our service for all mankind by pouring in and valuing and affirming the youth that we interact with,” said Malika Curry with the Pearl Foundation.

YEP! grants promote youth activities and engagement in Howard County through free, accessible, and supportive programming developed by nonprofit and community organizations. One grantee of the YEP! Program is an Esports initiative with Howard Community College’s nationally recognized Esports team.

Mark Winkel, coach of Howard Community College esports team said, “I am happy to collaborate with Howard County Government to bring a new esports clinic to local middle and high school students. Students will have the chance to learn from coaches and elite student-athletes in the Howard Community College esports program. We look forward to training the next generation of student-athletes right here in Howard County.”

“Esports has given me the opportunity to compete in collegiate athletics that previous generations did not have to enjoy. I am excited to give back and be part of the coaching team that will bring this program to the youth of Howard County. I look forward to teaching how great esports can be,” says Devin Dvorak, Howard Community College esports athlete.

“VolunTeens is a student-led, nonprofit organization that leads service projects and provides leadership opportunities for students in Howard County,” said Tuscan Mulinazzi, Student President of VolunTeens. “We are excited to receive funding from the YEP! grant to continue our work in the community!”

Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis while funds are available. Grants are awarded for a term of 18 months. For more information on the program and how to apply, please click here

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