93 Baltimore City Students Graduate from Youth Opportunity (YO!)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Contacts: Brice Freeman, Communications

410-396-1910

[email protected]

Ernest Dorsey, Youth Services

410-396-6722

[email protected]

93 Baltimore City Students Graduate from Youth Opportunity (YO!)

Baltimore Programs Students previously disconnected from school, work earn diplomas and face a brighter future

Baltimore, Maryland (June 11, 2014) – Youth Opportunity (YO!) Baltimore hosted a special graduation event this evening for its 2014 class of 93 young adults who chose to pursue alternative education after facing challenges in traditional settings. The event honored 57 students who graduated from the YO! Academy, an alternative high school that operates in partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools, and 36 young people who earned their Maryland high school diplomas through the city’s two YO! Baltimore centers in East and West Baltimore.

The graduation was held at Johns Hopkins University’s Shriver Hall. Ms. Shina Parker, a local entrepreneur and CEO, delivered the keynote address. Karen Sitnick, director of the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, which operates YO! Baltimore, said, “Our Youth Opportunity graduates are valuable assets to our city’s workforce. YO! has provided them with opportunities to positively re-engage with the education system and gain essential workplace skills that lead to employment and careers. We all benefit from this as we continue to strengthen Baltimore’s economy.”

Several members of YO! Baltimore recently participated in a national study conducted by America’s Promise Alliance – the largest nationwide study of its kind to date, in which young adults who left high school without graduating spoke at length about their experiences and the reasons why they did not complete high school on time. The report, Don’t Call Them Dropouts, revealed that students who leave high school without graduating do so not out of boredom or lack of motivation, but because they are overwhelmed by serious challenges in their daily lives.

YO! Baltimore is operated by the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Employment Development’s Youth Services division. YO! was founded in 2000 to address the many needs of youth and young adults disconnected from traditional learning environments. Over the past 14 years, YO! has provided academic, career/job training, advocacy, mentoring, health and social support services to more than 7,000 out-of-school, out-of-work city youth. Funded by the Mayor and Baltimore City Council, YO! works in partnership with the Baltimore City Department of Juvenile Services, Baltimore City Public Schools, Civic Works, the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Coalition (HEBCAC), the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Adolescent Health, and Sinai Hospital.

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