The Choice Jobs team pictured here (staff, youth and AmeriCorps members) at their Flying Fruit Cafe located on the 6th floor of The John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore.

June 11, 2020 – NAIOP Maryland has gifted $5,000 to support The Choice Program at UMBC, a not-for-profit organization providing mentorship services to youth from under-resourced communities in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area with a goal of building life skills and providing opportunities for meaningful employment. Administered by The Shriver Center at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, the program has partnerships with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, Baltimore City Public Schools and AmeriCorps.

The program supports young people to reach their self-identified goals by utilizing the guidance of a mentor associated with AmeriCorps on a daily basis. Youth learn how to compose a résumé; are exposed to after-school, weekend and summer activities; work at one of three jobs sites in Baltimore City and learn job-searching and interviewing skills. Because a portion of the support is conducted virtually, tablets are provided for some that do not have access to this technology.

Last year, The Choice Program at UMBC worked with 846 local young people in a three-part model that included six interactive classroom-style settings; on-the-job training and targeted job placement services. The job training is held at one of three Flying Fruit locations situated within an Inner Harbor kiosk, a stand at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a 6th floor café at the University of Baltimore’s Angelos Law Center. The environment allows the young trainees to learn and develop professional skills in a safe and protected environment.

“NAIOP Maryland is extremely impressed with the structure and demonstrated success of this venture that continues to guide the paths of needy youth throughout our communities,” said Jim Lighthizer, NAIOP-MD President. “This group, which is a true difference-maker in the lives of many, represents the ideal organization for NAIOP Maryland to support and we are proud to do so.”

The Choice Program at UMBC uses an Intensive Advocacy approach, a model created by Mark Shriver, son of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Operating expenses are 99% funded by grants, with the balance generated from donations made by organizations and private individuals.

“We are extremely grateful for this generous donation, and this gift will go a long way in helping us mitigate barriers to employment for our young people,” said Eric Ford, Director of The Choice Program at UMBC.