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USM developing B-Power initiative for Baltimore youth

The University System of Maryland is spearheading a new effort to help more Baltimore students attend college and enter the workforce.

Dr. Robert L. Caret, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Dr. Robert L. Caret, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

Baltimore Power, or B-Power, will see two USM institutions — Coppin State University and the University of Baltimore — partner with the CollegeBound Foundation, Baltimore City Community College and Junior Achievement of Central Maryland, all of which serve the city.

The system has a mission to provide access to education and thereby improve quality of life, and the partnership is a way to help address Baltimore’s numerous educational challenges head-on, USM Chancellor Robert L. Caret said in a statement.

B-Power members are in the process of developing a specific operating plan for the collaboration, which they expect to formally launch this fall. Both the USM and CollegeBound have committed funds to the program, and B-Power will seek more funding from local foundations, according to a news release from the university system.

The CollegeBound Foundation provides advising, grants and scholarships for public school students from Baltimore, and the B-Power initiative plans to work closely with the foundation to help city youth prepare for admission to USM institutions.

The university system and BCCC will collaborate to expand the percentage of students who begin their higher education at the community colleges before transferring into the University of Baltimore and Coppin State.

The Owings Mills-based Junior Achievement of Maryland focuses on providing entrepreneurship and financial literacy training to students as old as high school seniors and as young as kindergartners.  The university system plans to work with the organization to “develop post-secondary and career readiness pathways,” according to the news release.

Junior Achievement’s goal is to make sure today’s youth are better prepared for tomorrow’s economy — a goal that’s particularly important in Baltimore, where young people need enhanced opportunities, Jennifer Bodensiek, the organization’s president and CEO, said in the news release.

College enrollment among Baltimore City Public School graduates is among the lowest in the state, having dropped from 45.8 percent in 2013 to 41.5 percent in 2015. The statewide high school graduation rate for the class of 2014 was 86.4 percent but just 69.7 in Baltimore, according to the university system, which cited data from the school district and the Maryland State Department of Education.

The Johns Hopkins institutions are spearheading a separate initiative — focused more on economic development and job growth — known has BLocal, through which a number of local companies have pledged to infuse a combined $69 million into Baltimore’s economy by hiring local residents and spending more money with local vendors and businesses.