Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,100,000)
The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation (CRSF), a 501 (c)(3) national nonprofit organization based in Baltimore uses evidence-based juvenile justice reform best practices to connect at-risk youth and system-involved youth with caring, adult mentors in small mentoring groups across the nation. 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 FY23 OJJDP Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative funds will be matched with a minimum of one private dollar raised by CRSF allowing us to reach 65 communities across 21 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. 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 will also implement a new pilot initiative called the System-Involved Youth Outreach Program (SIYOP). Through this multipronged Badges enhancement program, CRSF will target youth who have had some interaction with local courts, police, other juvenile agencies, social service agencies, and community organizations focused on providing resources for system-involved youth to target, divert/prevent, and reintegrate them back into the community. 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.