Group seeks surplus funds for city youth

June 06, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

An influential Baltimore citizens group is asking city officials to use more of the city's budget surplus to promote after-school programs for children.

The group, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development (BUILD), is lobbying for $5.9 million of the surplus to be earmarked for in-school programs and community-based youth programs. So far, city leaders have said they will set aside $3.4 million for in-school programs.

Mayor Martin O'Malley has said a large portion of the $59 million surplus needs to be used to cover overspending by some city agencies. The rest could be split among other initiatives, such as beautifying the city's Amtrak corridor and demolishing vacant housing.

To convey the importance of after-school activities, BUILD plans a children's performance at Polytechnic Institute at 6 p.m. today. Pupils from the six schools where BUILD runs its after-school program, Child First, are scheduled to participate.

Rob English, a lead organizer for BUILD, said the city needs to devote more money to youth programs outside schools.

"If we're going to reach all the children in the city, it's important that the city supports community-based programs," he said.

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