A group of equity-focused educators in Baltimore, led by LEE members and TFA alumni, Julia Ellis (Baltimore, '17), Nate Golden (Charlotte ’17), and Emily Yu (Baltimore ’17) recently launched a charter amendment campaign to allow for a direct, one-time, universal cash payments to new parents in Baltimore City. The Baltimore Baby Bonus campaign is a project of the Maryland Child Alliance whose mission is to reduce and eventually eliminate child poverty across the state.
The group envisions that their effort to provide direct financial support to new parents in Baltimore City would improve the well-being of children and families, while also having long-term benefits for the economy as a whole. To make this a reality, the campaign is seeking to collect 10,000 signatures from registered voters in Baltimore City by July 27th, 2024. These leaders are running this campaign in their “5-to-9”, working hard through canvassing and direct voter outreach at community festivals to gain the signatures needed to add this initiative to the general election ballot in 2024.
We were able to chat more with Nate, Emily, and Julia about their campaign, which has already reached 3,000 signatures:
What inspired you all to launch the Baltimore Baby Bonus campaign?
As teachers, we witness the devastating effects of child poverty every day. While we, as educators, can do our best to provide high-quality and equitable education, we cannot ensure that our students have a roof over their heads and food to eat - only policymakers can do that. As a result, we decided to launch the Baltimore Baby Bonus campaign and take our anti-poverty message directly to voters.
How as TFA alumni did you become connected on this important issue?
Our leadership team evolved from a tight-knit group of Teach For America's 2017 alumni. We've formed a strong bond, largely rooted in our shared dedication to the Baltimore community. Being TFA alumni has provided us access to a robust network, including resources like Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE) and various community organizations helmed by fellow TFA alumni across the city.
How will this one-time cash payment for new Baltimore families impact equity for kids?
We recognize that a one-time payment is not sufficient to end child poverty across the city, but research shows that even small investments at birth can have a substantial and lifelong impact. Studies have shown that cash payments to families at a young age enhance a child’s educational outcomes, boost their income as an adult, improve their mental and physical health, decrease interactions with Child Protective Services and the criminal justice system, and even raise life expectancy. You can learn more about the research connecting cash payments and outcomes for children here.
What will it take to realize success in this campaign?
We’ve already collected more than 3,000 signatures since our launch 2.5 months ago. In order for us to see our amendment on the ballot and begin to improve the lives of Baltimore children and families, we need more help. We are looking for more committed volunteers to collect signatures from their networks and neighborhoods. We are also looking to expand and diversify our leadership team to strategize and mobilize our community. If LEE members are interested in getting involved, they can fill out this form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.