Baltimore Youth Initiative High School (BYI) exists to create a high school environment dedicated to nurturing excellence in the whole being. We choose to integrate a Waldorf-inspired approach to academics balancing all aspects of the whole person and using arts as a mechanism for promoting both understanding and beauty. Our commitment to collaboration manifests in our youth initiative and parent cooperative and collaborative teaching approaches. Our governance model engages all three bodies--youth, parents and faculty/staff-- to guide our school community. Our school promotes equity and the transformation of character through service to our local and metropolitan community , building individual and collective skills in promoting social justice and peace. Service is the center around which our academic and practical learning revolves.
To educate young people to be their B.E.S.T. by inviting them to:
To create and maintain a high school that will allow students to reach their full potential. Students taught in an environment that prioritizes equity will learn to treat all people as noble. They will be equipped not only to excel personally, but will be inclined to seek out creative solutions to the world’s problems while promoting dignity, prosperity and well-being for all people in all areas of the planet.
Our Funding Strategy
Our unique approach to funding insures all motivated and empowered youth who are able to meet our program requirements can be accepted into the program because of our no-set-tuition policy. Students or their families pay a small set of fees to offset program and administrative costs of application and annual registration. These fees total $800 initially and go down to $750 in subsequent years (barring increased materials costs). The funds needed to pay teachers, administrative costs, facilities costs and overhead come from our supporters. Parents contribute what they are able towards the program, whatever is within their means and within their hearts. Students can also contribute, whether or not their families are able to do so. Collectively, parents and students fundraise to support the program. Community members and well-wishers are urged to contribute towards our educational program as well.
As a very young school we are starting out with big aims: educating young people to be free thinking contributors to society and influencing our peers in public and private systems. We have seen students who were completely disengaged from school thrive in our environment. Those who hooked on a regular, make an effort to come to school. Those who were too quirky, too empathic, to idealistic and too innovative for the standard classroom thrive on our rich discussions, learning circle approach and meaningful applications. Following the Waldorf-style approach of bringing experts into the classroom, we have a vibrant core of teachers supported by a growing list of volunteer experts bringing everything from theater arts to research skills.
Our flexible approach allows us to maximize block scheduling and shorter classes to follow the diurnal cycle of the teen body, beginning with a later start to the school day. We aren't homework free, but we are free of busywork and rote exercises. Teachers are experts, but not perfect, learning how to be collaborators and guides, transforming skills and character side-by-side with our young people. Educators and parents find much of the approach to discussion and some of the work is equivalent to college level work.
We have attracted the attention of the national Place Matters initiative and the Joint Centers for Political and Economic Studies through our partnership with Equity Matters, Inc., our fiscal sponsor. We've been invited to visit the studios of Democracy Now, the War and Peace Report and explore using a social justice curriculum they have developed and were investigated as a potential contributor to the latest film by Vicky Abeles, the director of Race to Nowhere.
All this in our first year with minimal resources. Some angels came to our rescue and parents contributed about 2/3 of our income. Students arose to fundraise, gaining funds from their art work and their budding social justice skills. The youth are learning and leveraging the skills of solutions journalism augmented by excellent analysis skills developed while studying film and music critique.
Our school climate is so peaceful and refreshing, residents in the close-knit Coldspring Newtown neighborhood often thought we were not yet in session and many have welcomed us and offered gifts of resources. We have sung for seniors in one of two local senior apartment buildings. Parents faculty and students find the work invigorating and we that teachers who visit are eager to find a place in our small school. We have made a commitment to grow slowly so that we can understand how to maintain our culture. Along the way, we have met partners, including the Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, Wisconsin and a collaborative of disruptive and innovative programs in Baltimore, which include DewMore Baltimore, New Lens, Griot's Eye, WombWork and our fiscal sponsor, Equity Matters.
How You Can Help
We need your support to help us sustain our program during these first three years as we gain recognition in the Baltimore area as a "real" school students should attend. We believe that hundreds of thousands of people want to learn from the changes we are making in our school. We hope that you will join with a large portion of your fellows to provide nominal gift to our school each year for three years, to sustain our program during these learning years. If 25,000 people give us $5.00 each year, we will, with parent contributions, easily meet our facilities needs as well as pay our faculty/staff team.
Our response has been overwhelmingly positive, but many students have looked forward to the traditional large high school, which serves as an iconic institution in our culture as displayed in the media from Welcome Back Kotter to Glee.
We want to take more responsibility for the cost of maintaining the city-owned building we graciously have use of thanks to our friends at the Waldorf School of Baltimore and the Coldspring Newtown Community. We need to offset costs for students whose families don't have the means to make large tuition payments and we need to build our model so that small donations from a large number of well-wishers keeps our visionary faculty focused on innovative teaching strategies and not on second and third jobs.
Use this funding portal to contribute funds directly to BYI whenever you would like. If you believe every motivated young person ought to have access to our unique approach to education, please share our link with your friends and networks. We will occasionally run special campaigns to support specific program such as summer training for youth and adults, whole class academic study trips.
We are working on our federal application for nonprofit status. Until then, Equity Matters is our fiscal sponsor agency. We collaborate with Equity Matters to provide opportunities for young people to serve communities in our area. If you would prefer to make a tax deductible donation, please make your check out to Equity Matters and mail to:
Baltimore Youth Initiative High School4701 Yellowwood AvenueBaltimore, MD 21209