Baltimore officials have made it a mission to dedicate resources towards creating opportunities for the city’s youth population and one entrepreneur suggests that a quick way to accomplish this is by merging the needs of the city to the abilities of young individuals.
It’s a mission that Charm City resident Elijah Kelley says he firmly believes in. Founder of web app, “Be A Boss,” Kelley has teamed up with Master Your Card, a firm with a mission to empower financially underserved communities to move into the mainstream economy and to help small businesses; and the full service political consultant firm, The Politics Store to provide paid opportunities for young people through a program called, “A Time to Work.”
The program offers the prospect of employment to unemployed and underemployed youth.
Those involved say they hope that by expanding opportunities for young people, there will be more chances to find gainful employment, particularly performing the most basic task— cleaning up the neighborhood.
The program, which launched on November 18, 2017, allows youth to clean and brighten up local communities. Starting at Rose Street near the Gilmor Homes and Bethel Street in the Oliver Community where several participants engaged in clean up and beautifying activities while earning money doing it.
Kelley says his continued investment in offering such opportunities has a lot to do with taking action to combat the narrative that there is no hope.
“I believe at the core of this entire monstrosity of crime and waywardness is the lack of resources, the lack of basic ability to care and provide for yourself and your family,” he said.
Neighborhood cleanup activities that net young people a decent day’s pay shows there is a direct correlation between supporting and uplifting communities while making a living, according to Kelley.
“Fifty percent of a community in survival mode means 100 percent of that community is in danger of collapse. I care about the community I grew up in, the community I still have family and friends in and the community members that have the same potential I had to become a better me,” Kelly said. “My expectation for this program is to assist in the empowerment of youth providing for themselves and their family while planting seeds of opportunity and possibility.”
It wasn’t immediately known how many young people participated in the November 18 cleanup, but a year ago city Department of Transportation (DOT) officials used the “Be A Boss” app to contact 345 city youth between ages 14 and 21 to connect them with snow shoveling jobs within four or five blocks of their homes.
DOT officials say hundreds of sidewalks were cleared as a result.
Looking ahead, Kelley says the “Time to Work” program will be expanded adding more youth each month. To assist the program, which is being funded by Kelley’s company, he hopes to gain more traction by having individuals and businesses join the initiative by sponsoring participants.
As part of the learning experience component of the program, the youth are paid using a prepaid card provided by MasterCard’s “Master Your Financial Literacy Program.”
His vision for the program is that individuals, organizations and companies take up the challenge to hire and pay a living wage whenever possible and to consider sponsoring young people for just one hour at $25 per, Kelley said.
“[Those interested] can take part by registering on the Be A Boss app and then subscribing to “A Time to Work,” by clicking on subscribe. For more information, including how to register, send an email: email@example.com.