The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) today announced that the agency has been awarded a five-year, $5 million grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services for the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma (ReCAST) program. The goal of ReCAST is to empower local community collaboration to assist high-risk youth and families in communities that have recently faced civil unrest through evidence-based violence prevention, community youth engagement, and trauma-informed behavioral health services.
ReCAST West Baltimore, which aims to reduce the impact of trauma and build resilience in Central West Baltimore so that young people can complete school and engage in the workforce, will serve three communities adversely impacted by the April 2015 unrest: Sandtown-Winchester, Penn North, and Upton/Druid Heights.
“Decades of poverty, neglect, racism, and widespread disparity have resulted in generations of Baltimoreans suffering from the effects trauma in communities across our city. We must recognize, treat, and prevent trauma,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Through this grant, we will be able to directly engage and support our most valuable resources: our communities and our residents. Together, we will provide thousands of Baltimore residents with the tools and supports necessary to break systemic cycles of trauma and create a healthy, resilient, and well city.”
Specifically, the program will implement high-quality, trauma-informed, community-based services—including youth and community organizing, mentoring programs, youth development, yoga/mindfulness activities, and healing circles—across multiple sectors in order to:
- Promote connectedness and resilience in youth;
- Increase community cohesion; and
- Link community-based organizations, youth leaders, and community residents with larger private and public institutions to create a support network and to increase access to resources.
The ReCAST West Baltimore project will be led by BCHD and a Community Board, consisting of peer-elected resident representatives, which will guide the ongoing development, implementation, and revision of a ReCAST West Baltimore Strategic Plan.
Initially, a coalition of partners, community members, and others formed through the proposal development process.
The ReCAST implementation partners include:
- Behavior Health Systems Baltimore
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- C&C Advocacy
- Communities United
- Elev8 Baltimore, a Division of Humanim
- Holistic Life Foundation
- Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle
- New Lens Youth Media
- No Boundaries Coalition
- Office of the State’s Attorney
- Roberta’s House
- Seeds of Promise
- University of Maryland, School of Social Work
Under the convening umbrella of BCHD, these funded partners have committed to building the capacity of smaller, community-led organizations through efforts such as, hiring from the community, sub-granting, and providing technical assistance.
Unlike the majority of awards, a portion of the grant funds remains unassigned at the time of submission. These funds will be directed by BCHD and the Community Board to meet the future needs identified in the forthcoming ReCAST West Baltimore Strategic Plan.
“We need to recognize and encourage how community-led change can become a critical tool in improving the health and lives of Baltimoreans,” said Jeanette Hill, a participant in the ReCAST West Baltimore Community Coalition. “This new grant program will be an important step forward in these efforts and reflects our communities’ commitment to breaking cycles of trauma in our city.”
This is the latest effort from the Baltimore City to prevent and ameliorate the impact of trauma in Baltimore City. Other efforts include:
- Convening the violence prevention B’More for Youth Collaborative;
- Leading a city-wide effort to train frontline city workers on trauma-informed care;
- Addressing violence and trauma through the lens of public health;
- Recognizing that violence is a generational challenge impacted by the social determinants that shape people’s lives.
These efforts are critical components of Healthy Baltimore 2020, Baltimore City’s newly released strategic blueprint to promote health and well-being with one overarching vision to reduce health disparities in Baltimore by half over the decade.