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Monday, September 21, 2015

Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project

 Last week I sat down with Chelsea Coston of the Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project which provides services to Refugees as well as Asylees.

Through Enactus, Chelsea enriched her college experience by working on a variety of social projects.

Her next step was BCCC RYP, the roots of which go back to 1999 when BCCC was engaging with the ESL community via library space.

The goals of RYP are to provide homework assistance, developing core academic skills, provide a safe space, provide opportunity to practice English, to prevent students from dropping out of high school and transitioning into college or career.

Promoting self expression, self esteem and identity exploration, as well as fostering community and diversity are a part of the RYP mission. RYP also plays the role of providing information to the Baltimore City area regarding refugees.

BCCC RYP is currently exhibiting an art gallery show at Clayworks in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore. The show is a retrospective of BCCC RYP community arts projects over the last several years. The exhibit will be up through October 10th, 2015. BCCC RYP items can be purchased at Clayworks.

About two years ago in 2013, BCCC RYP started selling their products which are an outgrowth of their arts enterprise initiative. The arts enterprise started as a way to foster meaningful cultural engagement between the community of students with whom they work.

Through collaboration with the Maryland Office of Refugees and Asylees and with the support of the Office of Refugee Resettlement's School Impact Grant, BCCC RYP receives program funding. BCCC RYP shares office space with the International Rescue Committee.

Another collaboration is the Community Art Collaborative Americorps Program; a program created through the efforts of BCCC RYP and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

Currently Ms. Coston's work as a capacity builder is supported through the Maryland-DC Campus Compact Americorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) program with the goal of contributing to a program of "deeper, more thorough services," including, "financial literacy program and a targeted college readiness program through a mentoring system. We rely on all the local universities for our volunteers, so we work with Loyola, UMBC, Johns Hopkins Refugee Action Project, Towson University, Goucher and a few high schools including Notre Dame Preparatory and Catonsville High School."

"We are always looking for volunteers. Right now what we need mainly are mentors. These are students who are in college or older; professionals are really needed. They make a commitment of two hours a week to spend with a refugee in high school or middle school. It is basically an adult figure in their life that can be a resource for them. We are also looking for tutors in high school or above at our Moravia site on Wednesday afternoons and our Patterson site, which is a high school, and that is Tuesday afternoon. RYP also has opportunities for unpaid internships including project based internships that can be completed at home. Suggestions for potential partnerships are welcome.

Donated art supplies are also welcome!

BCCC RYP also welcomes one time volunteers to come an support workshops on topics such as careers or finance. You can reach out to Brittany DeNovellis at

In addition to the tutoring mentioned above, BCCC RYP offers a summer school which is an opportunity for high school students to get paid to attend school through Youth Works.

Stay connected:

Facebook   Refugee Youth Project
Twitter      @bmoreryp

Donations can be given through the support tab on BCCC RYP is funded through Baltimore City Community College Foundation so you can mark your donation Refugee Youth Project so that the funds get to BCCC RYP.

The work of BCCC RYP reaches people from 17 Coutries including the following:

 Congo   Sudan    Eritrea    Syria    Burma   Bhutan


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