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Governor Announces $25M For Youth Pandemic Recovery

Gov. Larry Hogan participates in a STEM activity at the Webster Kendrick Boys & Girls Club in Northwest Baltimore.
Rachel Baye
Gov. Larry Hogan participates in a STEM activity at the Webster Kendrick Boys & Girls Club in Northwest Baltimore.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday a $25-million partnership with a slew of private organizations aimed at helping children, particularly those from Maryland’s most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hogan described the initiative — called “Project Bounce Back” — as a partnership among the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Microsoft, LinkedIn Learning, KPMG, Discourse Analytics and eCare vault, as well as multiple state agencies. The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“Nothing breaks my heart more than to see what our children have suffered through over the past year, especially those kids who are growing up in underserved communities,” Hogan said.

The pandemic has been especially rough for some of the children who participate in programs by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Baltimore, said President and CEO Jeff Breslin.

“One example, we have a young member who lost his father and grandfather in the span of six months,” Breslin said. “Then we add on, whether it's not seeing your peers in school, access to technology — all of those things roll up to, as a 12 year old, a 13 year old, just not only challenges, but things you can't even begin to process at that age.”

The new funds will allow the Boys and Girls Clubs to move into new parts of the state and bolster existing programs, such as summer camps where children can have fun but also catch up on academics, Breslin said. The money also will support new mobile “clubs on the go.”

“This is not a one-year fix,” Breslin said. “This is a long term proposition as we support kids.”

Project Bounce Back also includes a new partnership between the Maryland Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs and the Maryland State Police “to promote positive mentorships and to grow community and police relationships,” Hogan said.

And the State Department of Education is launching six mental health crisis teams that will work with local school systems to further support children’s pandemic recoveries.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.