NewsGood To Know


Local nonprofit working to help youth grow their own businesses in Baltimore

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 18:14:06-04

BALTIMORE — "I am trying to manufacture an app and I am running a studio expanding my podcast."

All that and Gregory Simmons is only 18 and still a student at City High School.

Simmons got involved with Heartsmiles. A non-profit started by Joni Holifield for young people born out of the Freddie Grey unrest in Baltimore in 2015.

"As a person who lifted themselves out of absolute poverty, I felt as though it was my absolute duty to give back," Holifield said. "Instead of me screaming, fussing, and crying about 'where are the mentors' and 'nobody telling these kids', I decided to become the person that I thought we needed."

And it's Heartsmiles partnership with Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program that will take this young entrepreneur’s sense of business to the next level.

"The goal is to help them grow their business and basically ultimately become a resource to the community providing mentorship, providing more business opportunities being able to hire more people which benefits the city," Chanel White said.

White runs the program that started back in 2017 that's helping people like Gregory make connections with business owners like Andrea Scott.

The program is with the Youthworks program, a program Scott participated in when she was a teenager. Now she's in the business of finance, mentoring young people like Gregory.

"We're dealing with credit. We're dealing with his budgeting and he's an entrepreneur so I'm working with him on his business budget, so when he goes to do his studio budget, he won't go over budget," Scott explained.

"Looking at Andrea and Gregs story, it allows youth to get access to number one professionals that may be in the industry that they hope to join one day," White said.

An example of how they pay it forward? What Gregory learns from Andrea, he takes back to Heartsmiles and shares it in their peer to peer mentoring sessions.

"It trains you," he explained. "It develops you and it grooms you to bring forth this professionalism and these great tools that you need in life to be successful."

The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program could use more partners like Heartsmiles and Scott's Brownstone Tax and Financial services to join their team. Gregory says that's important because the need for positive outlets for kids in Baltimore is critical.

"For a child being bored in this city is dangerous, you can fall into any type of traps into the hands of the wrong people," Gregory said. "Having a lighthouse like this, Heartsmiles, Youthworks, programs like that they really help the youth of Baltimore. Pretty much every single one of the youth of Baltimore needs something like that."