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America’s Next Leaders: A Black Youth’s Focus? Mentoring in Baltimore

  • “America’s Next Leaders 2016” is an Equal Voice News special series that highlights young people who are strengthening their communities.
February 3, 2017 8:07 am by

Each year, Equal Voice News features “America’s Next Leaders”, a series that profiles the recipients of the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Leadership Award. The award honors young people who, in the spirit of Sargent Shriver, have demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice and have transformed that commitment into effective action across an array of issues.The Marguerite Casey Foundation supports and promotes America’s Next Leaders in order to recognize their resolve and courage and to help them build a network that will foster their individual and collective work moving forward.

Equal Voice News is an online newspaper published by the Marguerite Casey Foundation that covers the intersection of policy and poverty, with a focus on the lives of families living at that intersection.

The University of Maryland Baltimore County (The Shriver Center, The Choice Program) nominated Matthew Smith for the award. Here is a summary of his community contributions:

ShriverRecipientANLMatthewSmithPhotoBio-insert150Matthew completed a yearlong AmeriCorps fellowship for The Choice Program, mentoring disconnected youth and providing training to them to increase their job readiness skills.

During this year, he also helped launch a program of enrichment activities for youth in the Cherry Hill community of Baltimore where he grew up.

The project, called “Cherry Hill Summer Fun,” provides a healthy meal and activities including art, hiking and games for youth two days a week during the summer months.

In a conversation with Julie Brooks, the assistant director of The Choice Jobs Program, Matthew once asked: “Where would I be if Youthworks had not placed me at The Choice Program for my summer job three years ago?”

He told her he feared that he might not be heading in the right direction in life.

“I assured Matthew that he has resilience, and a fire inside him that I truly believe would have led him to his ideal path,” she recalled. 

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