Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $2,000,000)
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF), a Baltimore-based 501 (c)(3) national nonprofit organization uses evidence-based practices to connect at-risk youth with caring, adult mentors in small mentoring groups across the nation. The target population is youth, ages 9 to 14, in communities with multiple risk factors (poverty, drugs, gangs) for juvenile delinquency and other obstacles that prevent kids from successfully transitioning to adulthood. Strained relationships between law enforcement and community members—as seen in Baltimore and other U.S. cities—undermine efforts to build safer communities. Badges for Baseball (“Badges”) will break down these barriers by pairing at-risk/system-involved youth with civilian, law enforcement, public safety, and military mentors who participate in structured, afterschool programs that help youth build life skills, stay in school, and make positive behavioral decisions propelling them to success in life. By engaging law enforcement officers as mentors, Badges creates an environment for officers and at-risk youth to build healthy, strong relationships that promote safer communities. Each federal dollar from the FY21 OJJDP Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative funds will be matched with a minimum of one private dollar raised by CRSF allowing CRSF to reach 65 communities across 19 states, and the District of Columbia.
This collaborative initiative will enable CRSF to broaden its reach within communities and deepen its impact on mentors and mentees. The CRSF approach to implementing a successful program features four key elements that CRSF has successfully executed since the program’s creation in 2006. First, CRSF will provide structured mentoring activities for mentors and youth. One-day and multi-day events offer educational experiences (College Day Experiences) and training in mentoring/leadership (camps) within all Badges programs. Second, CRSF will deliver enhanced mentor training (in-person and web-based) on evidence-based practices. Third, CRSF will establish more community-wide partnerships and familial engagement around Badges. And finally, we will monitor the improved attitudes between at-risk youth and law enforcement mentors.
CRSF builds local, state, and national partnerships to ensure program success. Significant collaborations include those with the U.S. Marshals Service, Baltimore Police Department, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Washington/Baltimore HIDTA, Maryland State Police, and many others, which coupled with CRSF leadership, will provide sustained and sometimes expanded programming in key neighborhoods nationwide.
By expanding its virtual and in-person training and technical assistance for mentors and CRSF affiliate program sites, CRSF will engage 25,000 youth with 1,000 new trained mentors through transformational life-changing experiences.