Strengthening Impact and Opening Pathways: Baltimore Agencies Pilot an Approach from Mexico
The central premise of the (Re)Connecting Youth initiative is that promising approaches for opportunity youth engagement from the Global South can be uplifted to enhance the well-being of young people in the United States. Findings from a Baltimore pilot suggest this approach can strengthen the impact of existing initiatives for youth who are not connected to education, employment or training pathways.
Starting with a two-week training in June, IYF partnered with youth-serving agencies in Baltimore over three months to pilot Órale, a holistic employability and wellness program developed by Fronteras Unidas Pro Salud, A.C. in Tijuana, Mexico. Órale, a peer-to-peer approach, equips youth with knowledge on healthy decision-making, sexual and reproductive health, and the necessary soft skills to enter the job market.
“I wish I had had this training when I first started. It would have given me a better understanding of the young people that I work with,” reflected Stan Smith, an Employment Advocate at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED). Staff members from Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPSS) Re-engagement Center, the Baltimore City Health Department Teen Prevention Initiative, and the MOED Westside Youth Opportunity (YO) Center, and local NGOs were trained in the Órale methodology.
I wish I had had this training when I first started. It would have given me a better understanding of the young people that I work with.Stan Smith, Employment Advocate, MOED Westside Youth Opportunity Center
Over 50 young people took part in the pilot. “The program helps you know who you are and what you can do,” said one youth participant. Ninety percent of participants reported that the training provided them with new knowledge on sexual and reproductive health; confidence in their ability to make informed, healthy decisions; and improved communication and employability skills.
The program helps you know who you are and what you can do.Youth Participant, Baltimore Órale Pilot
Based on results from the pilot, the Re-engagement Center is planning to integrate the curriculum into all of their alternative options programs for over-age and under-credited students. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development will also continue to integrate the curriculum into programming at the Westside Youth Opportunity Center.