Job opportunities focus of GBC annual meeting

Putting ex-convicts back to work and expanding the city of Baltimore’s youth summer jobs program took much of the spotlight at Monday night’s Greater Baltimore Committee annual dinner meeting.

Donald C. Fry, president and CEO of the GBC, told an audience of city and regional business and civic leaders at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Hotel that the Coalition for a Second Chance program could be critical in addressing some of Baltimore’s most daunting social and economic problems.

“The coalition seeks to break the cycle of recidivism by offering the one solution all experts agree actually works to keep people from returning to crime and jail — a job,” Fry said.

GBC Chairwoman Stephanie C. Hill called on businesses to redouble their commitment to the city’s summer jobs program for youth, noting that last year’s drive, which came on the heels of the civil unrest in late April, produced 8,000 jobs for kids last summer.

“The youth that participated in these programs not only rejoiced in the satisfaction of a paycheck, but they gained vital learning experiences that may shape their career paths,” Hill said.

Ronald R. Peterson, president of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and the recipient of this year’s GBC Walter Sondheim Public Service Award, urged employers to find jobs for men and women released from prison — “returning citizens” he called them. He said that Hopkins for several years has hired at least 100 ex-convicts annually, a number he said was just a drop in the bucket compared to the true need.

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who was given the Howard ‘Pete’ Rawlings Courage in Public Service Award Monday night, said that for Baltimore to be successful it would have to ensure that educational and economic opportunities were extended to all of the city’s neighborhoods.

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