Fresh Start is a non-residential, community-based program that consists of a 24-week curriculum providing vocational, academic, and social skills development training to adjudicated and out-of-school youth ages 16-19, most of whom are referred by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. The program uses carpentry as a medium to teach academic, social, and job readiness skills. Students work in the Foundation’s Maritime Institute workshop building quality wooden furniture, cutting boards, and gifts for sale to the public. Students also receive classroom instruction and one-on-one tutoring to prepare them for their high school equivalency exam. The curriculum is designed to increase self-reliance, teach problem-solving and academic skills, and demonstrate how academic skills and knowledge are used in a practical work environment. The students attend weekly yoga and mindfulness sessions and monthly group mentoring workshops that focus on improving emotional wellness and interpersonal relationships to ensure they are equipped for the rigors of adulthood.
All participants receive intensive job training, guaranteed job placement, wrap-around services, and two years of post-program aftercare.
Previously, the program served only males, but in 2018, Fresh Start began admitting female participants through a coding/technology program that mirrors the same successful model.
The Fresh Start program is one example of how Living Classrooms is changing lives by teaching marketable job skills. The U.S. Department of Labor and the National Youth Employment Coalition continue to recognize Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start program for “best practices working with opportunity youth” and for embodying a “continuous improvement process.”
Support Fresh Start’s student-run business by shopping their large selection of quality, hand-crafted wooden furniture and gifts. Every purchase will directly benefit our Fresh Start students and reward their hard work. A wide range of custom items are also available for home and office furniture and decor. Please contact Fresh Start to inquire about a custom order.
Students enrolled throughout 2020. Staff led 2 virtual vocational sessions and 3 virtual academic classes per day.
Students were assisted in finding employment last year
17% Average recidivism rate of graduates, compared to Baltimore City’s rate of 52%.
75% -80% of graduates remain employed and/or in school for three years after completion of the program.
Average number of grade levels Fresh Start students increase in their math, reading, and writing levels.
Contact: Mesha Newton
East Harbor Campus
802 S. Caroline Street
Baltimore, MD 21231
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