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Shocking Disparities Galvanize Maryland’s Child Advocacy Community; Advocates for Children and Youth Host Summit to Focus on Advancing Equity


Baltimore, MD, May 10, 2021 --( Maryland ranks 43rd for children living in poverty in which nearly 160,000 young people live in under-resourced families. Black youth arrest rates are 3 times higher than White youth. Black infant mortality is 3 times higher than with White babies. These and other well-being indicators for Maryland are reported in the Annie E. Casey's Foundation's Kids Count Data Center.

That’s why community members and advocates are gathering for a day of dynamic panels to discuss challenges and offer bold, innovative solutions at the 2021 Leadership and Advocacy Summit Closing the Gap: Bold Moves to Advance Equity on Friday, May 14, 2021 from 12-4 p.m. ET.

The summit will feature Chef Jeff Henderson, a New York Times Best-Selling Author, an Award-Winning Chef that was featured on OWN and the Food Network Television. His innovative approach to engage system involved youth with the culinary arts is a hallmark of his work at the Chef Jeff Project. This initiative unlocks the potential in young people - which is especially important in Black and Latinx youth who are disproportionately represented in the youth justice system.

Spoken Word Artist and 2021 Richmond History Makers Honoree, Chloe Edwards will also be featured at the half-day event. Ms. Edwards is the founder of Virginia’s first Racial Truth and Reconciliation Week, which was recognized by Governor Ralph Northam. Scheduled panelists include Rev. Marlon Tilghman, a youth justice advocate from BRIDGE Maryland; Rick Tyler, a youth education advocate and Chair of Maryland Education Coalition (MEC); and Advocates for Children and Youth’s dynamic policy staff. Specifically, panelists of particular note include:

- Nonso Umunna, Advocates for Children and Youth’s research director, sets the stage by sharing trends that show the scope of inequities are evident and the need to address them.

- Rachel White, Advocates for Children and Youth’s child welfare policy director, was instrumental in changing how Maryland legislators craft criminal justice reform bills. Due to her efforts, both the House and the Senate piloted the use of racial impact statements as the rule in the legislative analysis of certain criminal justice bills. These statements ensure that the law - before it is enacted - does not create or exacerbate disparate outcomes among people of different races or ethnicities.

- James Dold, CEO and Founder of Human Rights for Kids, the publisher of the annual report, 2020 State Ratings Report on Human Rights Protections for Children in the U.S. Justice System, indicated that Maryland is one of the worst offenders of human rights for children.

“It is absolutely imperative for us to have open and transparent conversations about how to reduce disparities and advance equity,” said Mariama Boney, interim executive director at Advocates for Children and Youth. “Our State is poised for continued change and we must ensure that children are always more than a consideration in our conversations.”

The Summit is made possible through the generous support of OSI-Baltimore.

Note for reporters: A limited number of passes are available for media to attend this virtual ticketed event. Please contact Carol Walker, communications director, at for access to the event.

Advocates for Children and Youth is a statewide, nonpartisan advocacy nonprofit in Maryland and the state affiliate in the Kids Count network. Our mission is to build a strong Maryland by advancing policies and programs to ensure children and families of every race, ethnicity, and place of birth achieve their full potential. For more information, visit

Contact Information:
Advocates for Children and Youth
Carol Walker
Contact via Email
Mariama Boney, LMSW, CAE| Interim Executive Director|
Advocates for Children and Youth|| 240-718-4968

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