BALTIMORE — Baltimore City leaders are working to create a new fund to pay for students to receive vocational education to create pathways for them to find jobs. It’s named after a beloved community activist who was murdered earlier this year.
"His life was an inspiration to not only all of us but to generations that will come behind him," said Council President Nick Mosby.
Mosby announced legislation to create the “Dante Barksdale Career Technology Apprenticeship Fund,” a trust to pay for more Baltimore students to receive education in skilled trades through the city school system.
"We hope that this will connect young folks to non-traditional pipelines of employment and we know the jobs that are coming down the pipeline in the city of Baltimore," said Mosby.
Barksdale, he was the leader of Safe Streets Baltimore and was murdered in January. The idea for this fund came from his last communication with Mosby. He said he wanted to work on a job creation program.
"He stood in the middle of violence reduction for the city, interrupting violence on a daily basis. But he understood and knew that all the work that he was able to do would not be sustainable as it relates to reducing violence without providing real opportunity to young folks," said Mosby.
The legislation honors Barksdale's legacy by preparing city youth for jobs to combat unemployment and prevent a cycle of violence. Student Dyeon Stokes, who is part of Edmondson-Westside's CTE Carpentry program, knows how impactful it could be.
"What I’ve seen, experienced and benefited is something I could never imagine. I have been privileged to shadow and help on 11 job sites with carpenters: 2 kitchens, 2 basements, 3 floors a deck a fence and a paint job," said Stokes, who is a junior.
Mosby said this wouldn’t cost the city anything. Contractors who have city jobs will pay a small fee into the fund for every labor hour... creating a lasting memory of Barksdale that’s priceless.
"I do know one thing that my brother stood for, as well as my mother and my family: education is the bridge that binds our community," said Pili Houston, Barksdale's sister. "And I pray that this program is nurtured throughout the years in my brothers honor and I’m very proud."
The bill is being introduced to the city council Monday night and will be assigned to a committee. If passed, the legislation asks voters to approve a charter amendment to establish the fund.
Barksdale’s murder is still and open and active investigation.