The Choice Program at UMBC is a not-for-profit organization administered by The Shriver Center at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). For 30 years, Choice has engaged, mentored, trained, and advocated for youth. The overarching program goals are to disentangle young people from the juvenile justice system and to strengthen youth and family ties to the community through increased educational and vocational opportunities.
The Choice Program utilizes a community-based, family-centered approach in order to promote positive outcomes for young people and families in Maryland. Our AmeriCorps Members serve as advocates and work to connect families to self-identified, needed resources and reinforce a strengths-based, anti-racist, approach to youth development.
We engage in a collaborative process of service: where young people set goals for themselves and are supported by their Choice mentors along the way.
To us, youth development includes: being available to our youth consistently, often making visits to meet with them on a daily basis; using a strengths-based approach to promote positive self-image; using a holistic approach to honor every aspect of a person’s life; developing high expectations and holding youth accountable to their own progress on goals; forming a mentoring relationship that is built on trust and rapport; engaging with families and assisting as a communication link; fostering self-sufficiency by building life-skills; providing opportunities for meaningful engagement through structured after-school, weekend and summer activities.
The Choice Program interventions provide services in the Baltimore and Washington DC metro areas. The program has strong partnerships with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, Baltimore City Public Schools, and AmeriCorps.