Two nonprofits to help pupils `turn corner'

$5 million project includes mentoring, job training

May 09, 2002|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Two local nonprofit organizations have been chosen to take the lead in a $5 million program to help 70 middle-schoolers in East and West Baltimore.

Baltimore Reads and Community IMPACT! Baltimore will coordinate the work of the Turning the Corner Achievement Program, a project of Baltimore investment manager Eddie C. Brown, his wife, Sylvia, and their two daughters.

The Baltimore Community Foundation and Associated Black Charities, which are jointly overseeing the program, will announce the selection today. Thirty-five graduating fifth-graders from the east side of town and 35 from the west side will be selected next month to start the program this summer.

Community IMPACT! Baltimore has chosen Diggs-Johnson Middle School as the focus of its West Baltimore work, said executive director Michael J. Austin. Pupils will be chosen from six nearby elementary schools.

Baltimore Reads has not yet chosen a middle school in East Baltimore but is looking at neighborhoods such as Jonestown and Oldtown, said executive director Marlene C. McLaurin.

"The idea is really to capture those young people who are mediocre, likely to fall behind, who are struggling on a marginal basis, to lift them up and move them forward," McLaurin said. "We really want to have an experience for these youngsters that brings pride."

The agencies will work with other nonprofit groups to provide a wide range of services -- from after-school activities and mentoring to job training and housing. The goal is to help pupils rise above drugs, crime and poverty in their neighborhoods to excel academically at a time when some of them begin to slide.

Baltimore Reads, a 14-year- old literacy training and job placement program, will work with organizations as large as the Johns Hopkins University -- which will provide health care to participating families -- and as small as Baltimore Clayworks.

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