OSI-Baltimore Selects 12 ‘Community Fellows’ to Address Problems in City

    Open Society Institute-Baltimore, the progressive advocacy group, announced its 2020 cohort of “community fellows” on Tuesday. 

    These 12 individuals, who were selected from more than 150 applicants, will each receive $60,000 over 18 months to work on local projects designed to address problems in Baltimore’s underserved communities.

    “The mission of our work at OSI-Baltimore is to disrupt the longstanding legacy of structural racism in our city,” OSI-Baltimore Director Danielle Torain said at a virtual news conference introducing the new cohort on Tuesday. 

    Torrain said community fellows have been a key component of OSI-Baltimore’s work since the first cohort was selected in 1997. Since then, there have been over 200 fellows, some of whom have launched extremely impactful organizations in Baltimore — including Wide Angle Youth Media, B-360, Community Law in Action, Thread, Gather, Bikemore, Youth Empowered Society (YES) and others.

    Fellows are selected through a rigorous process which includes detailed project proposals and budgets, identification of collaborators, site visits and multiple interviews. 

    Here are the names and project descriptions of the 2020 community fellows. An asterisk denotes members of the Youth Activist Fellow class.

    Tehya Jenae Faulk* – FaulkTehya 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, Finne 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), Griffin 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. – Henderson will establish Pathways to College and Entrepreneurship, a multi-layered education program designed to expose underserved Baltimore youth to college readiness and entrepreneurship opportunities.

    Isaiah Johnson – Johnson 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 – Jones 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 – Lapenta 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* – Paige 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 health care providers and other partner organizations, Staton will establish More Than a Shop as a network of barbershops and beauty salons that will bring health care, job training, and mental health resources to communities throughout Baltimore City.

    Atiya Wells – Wells 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 – Wilmore 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 – Yost 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.

    Samantha Hawkins
    Samantha Hawkins earned a masters degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. She has previously reported for The Diamondback, covered the Oregon State Legislature for the The Statesman Journal, and covered the Maryland congressional delegation for Capital News Service.