Carey Alumni Awarded $60k Grant for Work with City Youth


Carey AluM Awarded Grant to work With City Youth

For some teachers, connecting with disengaged students can be hard. It can be especially hard in places like Baltimore's inner-cities, where students face extenuating challenges inside and outside the classroom.

Brian Gerardo knows this. He experienced it first-hand as a teacher at REACH! Partnership School in East Baltimore. The problem inspired Gerardo, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and Maryland Institute College of Art's joint MBA/MA Design Leadership program, to start an after-school club inspired by a personal passion: hip hop dance.carey business school alumni

“I knew that building strong relationships was the best way for me to provide the best possible education for my students,” Gerardo said. “Hip hop dance was something I was really interested in, and so I thought I would share that passion with my students to help me build relationships I could leverage in the classroom.”

The program was met with rave reviews, raising attendance rates and engagement level among Gerardo’s students. Other teachers began asking for Gerardo and co-founder, Cynthia Chavez, a graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Education, to host workshops at other schools. What began with four students blossomed into the Baltimore Dance Crews Project, a nonprofit that has reached thousands of Baltimore youth.

Last month, the nonprofit, led by Gerardo as executive director, was awarded a $60,000 grant by the Open Society Institute of Baltimore as part of its 2015 Community Fellows program.

The organization awards the funds, to be distributed over an 18-month stretch, to local social entrepreneurs to help grow or launch projects addressing issues in Baltimore’s most underserved communities.

The funding signals a seminal moment for Gerardo and the nonprofit, as it will allow him to fully dedicate himself to growing and enriching the number of programs offered by Baltimore Dance Crews Project. Going full-time with the nonprofit has been Gerardo’s goal since enrolling in the Carey Business School and MICA program in 2012. 

Gerardo says his education has played a key role in the success of the program by giving him the necessary skills and approach to take the nonprofit to the next level.

“One of the biggest things I learned was how to think creatively about the challenges we face; to be able to think through a problem from a human-centered design approach,” he said. “We have to make sure we are designing solutions with people in mind, and that the people we work and serve are creating the solutions.”

To learn more about Baltimore Dance Crews Project, click here. To learn more about the Open Society Institute of Baltimore’s Fellowship program, click here

Posted on December 10, 2015 In