BALTIMORE – In a virtual press conference this morning, Open Society Institute-Baltimore announced the 2020 cohort of OSI-Baltimore Community Fellows. The new Fellows will each receive $60,000 over 18 months to support local projects designed to address problems in Baltimore’s underserved communities. In addition to our regular cohort of up to 10 Community Fellows, this year’s cohort includes two Youth Activist Community Fellows, whose Fellowships are supported by Open Society Foundations’ Global Youth Exchange Program.
OSI’s Community Fellowships Network, launched in 1997, now includes 220 Fellows, including the founders of some of Baltimore’s more impactful organizations, including B-360, Community Law in Action, Youth Empowered Society (YES), Thread, Gather, Bikemore, Wide Angle Youth Media, and many others.
This year’s Fellows were chosen from among more than 150 applicants after a rigorous selection process that included detailed project proposals and budgets, identification of collaborators, a site visit, and multiple interviews, including an in-depth conversation with the Selection Committee. The committee included OSI Advisory Board members Veronica Cool, Andre Davis, and Nupur Parekh Flynn, along with 1999 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow David Miller, Carol Dunston Reckling, and Kevin Lindamood.
Tehya Jenae Faulk and Wayne Paige are the inaugural Youth Exchange-supported Youth Activist Community Fellows. OSF’s Youth Exchange seeks to expand the youth leadership pipeline by supporting activists at the earliest stages of their careers as change-agents in their communities. Launched in 2015, the Youth Exchange actively partners with Open Society programs and foundations to engage young activists in more intentional ways, recognizing their significant potential in creating more pluralistic, democratic, and just societies. “It’s important for us that the Fellows demonstrate a strong connection to their communities and work towards a more equitable and inclusive ecosystem of change,” said Rachele Tardi, Director of the Youth Exchange, “We’re inspired by the inaugural Youth Activist Community Fellows and look forward to their fellowships, which will advance a most just society in Baltimore and beyond.”
2020 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellows (click on names to see full profiles and photos)
Tehya Jenae Faulk* – Tehya is establishing Orphan We, which will use digital spaces to collect and archive stories of people on the edge of society — primarily those with intersectional identities.
Elizabeth Finne – Through the Parole Hearing Preparation Project, Elizabeth will work to systematize parole hearing preparation by developing appropriate and effective materials, by empowering inmates and their family members to make their best case for parole release, and by engaging and guiding volunteers to support people in parole hearing preparation.
Ateira Griffin – Through Building Our Nation’s Daughters (BOND), Ateira will encourage healthy two-generation relationships, economic mobility, and educational achievement by providing single mothers and their daughters in grades 5 to 12, with mentoring, counseling, education, and career support.
James Henderson Sr. – James will establish Pathways to College and Entrepreneurship as an innovative, multi-layered education program designed to expose underserved Baltimore youth to college readiness and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Isaiah Johnson – Isaiah will establish The Greenmount East Leadership Project to connect community youth to positive role models who will assist them with developing life skills, healthy coping skills, and sound decision-making skills.
Bree Jones – Bree is working to establish Parity, an equitable housing development company that is building a collective of motivated individuals who are cooperatively reviving West Baltimore neighborhoods through homeownership, civic engagement, and development without displacement.
Monica Lapenta – Monica will establish Be a Chef for a Day (BaCFaD) Mobile Teaching Kitchen and Training Kitchen to engage North Baltimore youth ages 14 to 21 in culinary education and job training by making fresh meals for people in need.
Wayne Paige* – Wayne will establish The Beautiful Baltimore Project to support the educational and social development needs of McElderry Park’s young people, incorporating the goals and passions of participants.
Troy Staton – In partnership with various healthcare providers and other partner organizations, Troy will establish More Than a Shop as a network of barbershops and beauty salons that will bring healthcare, job training, and mental health resources to communities throughout Baltimore City.
Atiya Wells – Atiya will establish Baltimore Living in Sustainable Simplicity (BLISS) Meadows, which will provide the Frankford community access to fresh food and a connection to nature.
Darius Wilmore – Darius will establish The Short Kuts Narrative Therapy Initiative as an innovative social impact project utilizing the creative process of therapeutic storytelling. The process is designed to aid in the healing of generational, personal, familial, professional, and environmental trauma.
E.V. Yost – E.V. will establish The Queer Crisis Response Unit (QCRU), an emergency services alternative designed to reduce the collateral consequences of criminalization experienced by the TLGBQIA+ survivors of interpersonal and systemic violence in Baltimore City.
* Youth Activist Community Fellows