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Baltimore City Council to Pass Legislation Allowing Youth Fund to Aid in COVID-19 Emergency Response

Baltimore City Council to Pass Legislation Allowing Youth Fund to Aid in COVID-19 Emergency Response

Council President Scott and Councilmember Cohen
Announce Funds to Close Digital Divide and Provide Food Access

BALTIMORE, MD (April 27, 2020) — After City Council President Brandon M. Scott called for the use of the Baltimore City Children & Youth Fund to mitigate the worst effects of the COVID-19 emergency, the City Council is set to pass emergency legislation this evening that would authorize up to $13 million to close the digital divide and provide access to food. 

The City Council is expected to pass City Council Bill 20-0519: “Children and Youth Fund - Establishment of Permanent Fiscal Agent at its third virtual meeting this evening at 5PM.

In addition to redirecting unspent money in the Baltimore City Children & Youth Fund to the COVID-19 response, the legislation—sponsored by Councilmember Zeke Cohen (District 1)—also establishes a permanent home for the fund.

On April 7, City Council President Scott stressed the importance of making emergency funds available to close the digital divide and expand access to food in his plan for Baltimore’s recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Council President wrote, “This pandemic is having a devastating effect on our City’s young people. Many students in our city face food insecurity, and are now struggling to access nutritious meals while at home. Our city’s vast technological and digital divides mean that many students who are now expected to learn at home do not have the basic equipment to do so.”

He continued, “We should use the resources available in the Baltimore City Children & Youth Fund to meet the needs of our young people during this unprecedented time. I was honored to co-sponsor the legislation creating the Youth Fund, and I believe in its mission of supporting small, grassroots nonprofits. But its mission can and should be adapted to meet the present need.”

Councilmember Zeke Cohen, Chair of the City Council's Education and Youth Committee, has also been a fierce advocate of closing the digital divide. On April 13, he introduced City Council Bill 20-0211R: “Closing the Digital Divide During the COVID-19 Crisis.” The resolution called on city government to work with Baltimore City Schools and the State to ensure students had technology for online learning and that the employment needs of YouthWorks participants were met during the pandemic.

“As a father, a former teacher, and Chair of the Education and Youth Committee, I feel called to stand up for our students,” said Councilmember Cohen. “We have an opportunity to not only give our children a chance to learn online now, but into the future when we are no longer constrained by the Coronavirus. Now is the time for action.”

Last week, the Baltimore Teachers Union and a coalition of parent, student and community organizations sent a letter to the Mayor, Council President, and Chair of the Education and Youth Committee calling on city government to make emergency financial investments in technology to close the digital divide, increase internet access, and meet youth employment needs.

Thanking Mayor Young for his leadership during the COVID-19 emergency, the Council President said, “Mayor Young has shown strong leadership during this crisis, in particular on developing and implementing a food access strategy. The City Council is proud to play an essential role in realizing that plan so that Baltimoreans do not go without food during this public health emergency.”

Members of the public and press can stream this evening's City Council meeting online, watch live on CharmTV (Comcast Channel 25 or 1085), or call in to listen live at 1-408-418-9388 (PIN: 715 312 559).





Candance Greene
Deputy Director of Communications
Office of City Council President Nick J. Mosby

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