Townsend announces grant for youth activities program

$10,000 awarded by agency under federal probe

Election 2002

August 02, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend announced the award of a $10,000 state grant yesterday to provide more Friday evening activities for Baltimore youths, trying to keep them off the streets after the recent wave of juvenile gun violence.

"We've had a terrible spate of juvenile violence in the last few months," Townsend said at a news conference in a park across from Koinonia Baptist Church. "It's unacceptable. ... We're going to do something about it."

The grant was made through the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, which supports community groups in anti-crime efforts. It was disclosed this week that some grants made by the office are the subject of a federal investigation.

Some of the beneficiaries of yesterday's $10,000 grant will be churches that are members of Baltimore's Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which last week endorsed Townsend.

Two ministers spoke at yesterday's news conference in the 2400 block of Greenmount Ave.: the Rev. Gregory Perkins, current president of the alliance, and Bishop Douglas I. Miles, a past president. The alliance comprises more than 200 predominantly African-American churches.

Townsend and officials with the state anti-crime office denied any political link between yesterday's grant and last week's endorsement. They said the money is crucial to expand "Kidz Nite Inn," a 3-year-old program run by the nonprofit Mission Baltimore to open neighborhood churches and community centers to children at night.

No church or community center will receive more than $200 for each night they are open for youths -- money that must be spent on food, drink, T-shirts or activities for children.

"It has nothing to do with politics," said Robert W. Weinhold, a spokesman for the state anti-crime office. "It has everything to do with juvenile violence in Baltimore."

Townsend said the fact that grant recipients will include churches and other groups that have endorsed her reflects how much she is working in the community.

"I think that it shows that if somebody is working in the community, the people who care about their future want to help you," Townsend said. "They've seen me out here time and time again. I've been out here working. That's what it shows. I've been here."

But a spokesman for Townsend's likely Republican opponent, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., questioned money going to groups that back Townsend.

"I believe she should make public a list that shows a comprehensive accounting of all of the grants, all of the financial aid, given to the churches that she's associating herself with," said Ehrlich spokesman Paul Schurick.

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