Mayor Scott Highlights Cross-Sector Collaboration Focused on Increasing Youth Economic Opportunity in Baltimore’s Tech Sector

 Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott joined with students and partner organizations to highlight a new summer internship program for high school students focused on increasing youth economic opportunity and expanding access to technology careers. 

This pilot internship program is a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Baltimore Tracks, a coalition of local tech companies committed to equity, Code in the Schools, Pass IT On, and Baltimore City Public Schools. 

“Baltimore is home to a growing tech industry, and partnerships like this one show the power of local government, nonprofits, and the private sector coming together for the benefit of our young people,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “We must continue to build on this cross-sector collaboration to create more pathways to careers for Baltimore youth, which will undoubtedly build a more equitable, thriving city.” 

The six-week paid work experience is facilitated in partnership with YouthWorks. Twelve interns will be placed with one of ten participating local tech companies in the inaugural year of the program. Students will receive training and support from Code in the Schools and Pass IT On prior to and throughout their internship placements. 

“This year, YouthWorks will help over 6,200 young adults work at one of over 250 virtual or in person worksites,” said Jason Perkins-Cohen, Director of the Mayor's Office of Employment Development (MOED), which operates YouthWorks. “We’re thrilled to support this partnership that creates an opportunity for young Baltimoreans to earn, learn, and grow with some of Baltimore’s most exciting, new technology companies.”

“The engagement and collaboration that led to the creation of these internships for City Schools students in our IT pathways is precisely what we want to continue cultivating across the City in order for City Schools, industry, and the community to collectively forge pathways towards strategic career readiness for Baltimore youth,” said  Kumasi Vines, Director Career Readiness at Baltimore City Schools.

"At Code in the Schools we know for a fact that talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. We see it every day. The young people who come through our programs have so much talent and are just waiting for that opportunity,” said Gretchen LeGrand, CEO of Code in the Schools. “The Baltimore Tracks internship pilot is a great start and we’re so thrilled by this group of tech companies and the thought they have put into the projects that the young people will be working on this summer."

“The key to creating a truly diverse technology workforce is exposure. However, many youth in Baltimore City are never given the chance to be exposed to high tech career fields. They miss out on the opportunity to enter life changing career paths. Companies also miss out on bright and talented employment candidates who could contribute greatly to their organization’s efforts if given a chance,” said Professor Willie Sanders, Executive Director of Pass IT On. “That’s why this partnership and program are so critical. It will help remove the barriers to exposure that keep many of our kids from excelling.”

During the summer internship, students will have an opportunity to work with artificial intelligence, build websites, learn how to code in JavaScript and CSS, and more. Participating organizations in this pilot internship program include Audacious Inquiry, Balti Virtual, Early Charm Ventures, Flave, Mindgrub, Mind Over Machines, Protenus, SmartLogic, TechSlice, and Traitify.

“Coding has opened my eyes and allowed me to become more aware because code is everywhere and it’s millions of lines creating the simplest and easiest things to use like texting or searching. I have a feeling of joy when my code works and I see others using and enjoying it,” said Jodi Aryee, a rising senior at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. “That is why programs like Code in the Schools, Baltimore Tracks, Pass IT On, and YouthWorks bring students like me and so many others many opportunities to grow.”  

“Technology really intrigues me and keeps me focused. Eventually, I want to start my own web design business where I help companies and organizations do a better job promoting their services. I am looking forward to my tech internship this summer because I will continue to improve my technology and business skills and will use the experience for the next step in my career,” said Theodore Bailey, a recent graduate of Edmondson-Westside High School. “It can be hard to find formal tech programs, so it is good to see people coming together to create more opportunities for Baltimore youth.” 

The Baltimore Tracks summer internship pilot program has a goal to expand to more students and tech industry job sites next year. 

“Businesses must be active participants in solving challenges in the communities in which they operate. We can not solely rely on government or non-profits to solve social challenges — we need to collaborate across sectors to tackle big challenges. In this case, Baltimore City youth need more access to high paying careers of the future,” said Michael Castagnola, Chief of Staff at SmartLogic and Baltimore Tracks steering committee member. “Through the combined efforts of government, schools, non-profits, and businesses we are expanding on-ramps to tech jobs for Baltimore’s young people.” 

This partnership is one of many supporting Baltimore City youth seeking summer work experiences through YouthWorks between June 28, 2021 and August 6, 2021. Mayor Scott committed to significantly increase the capacity of YouthWorks during his 2021 State of the City address to ensure that all Baltimore youth who apply have the opportunity to receive a placement, contribute to the local economy, and develop critical job skills. 

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