Families, Children, and Youth

Strategic Direction

The Foundation’s work in this area is centered on the core belief that all children are entitled to live in a safe and nurturing family with access to those opportunities which can best help them prepare for a healthy and productive future. Our funding in this area is focused in the following areas: advocating for public policies and public investment in tested and measured strategies and interventions; increasing availability of and access to high quality public education and health care; preventing pregnancies and births to teens; linking families to workforce training programs which either help with entry to or advancement and retention in jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits; and helping build the financial literacy and asset-building opportunities for low-income families.

Key Initiatives

Advocacy and Public Policy on behalf of low-income children and families.

Family Support: The Straus Foundation was instrumental in the creation of a network of family support centers across the state, designed to provide comprehensive services to the communities’ most vulnerable children and families.

Increasing Access to Quality Health and Mental Health Care for the uninsured or underinsured: The Foundation strives to connect children and families to early detection and prevention, to decrease the usage of emergency rooms and other services on the most expensive side of the health delivery system, and to make readily available the full array of family planning services.

Improving Choices and Chances in Public Education: The Straus Foundation, working in conjunction with both public and private partners, has supported the work of new and charter-like schools in Baltimore City; a high school reform initiative looking to break up large neighborhood high schools into smaller and safer learning environments thought to be more supportive of higher achievement.

Selected Grantees

Health Workforce Coalition: The Foundation supports a coaliton of the city’s health institutions that works together to create or provide skills training in areas where there are large vacancies and job advancement and retention opportunities for incumbent workers.

New and Charter Schools Initiative: This initiative was begun in 1997 and now include the creation of charter schools. Through this work the Foundation has provided start-up capital and ongoing operating support to Midtown Academy, Crossroads School, and New Song Academy.

Advocates for Children and Youth: Since its founding in 1997, with start-up funding from the Foundation, ACY has been our advocacy “partner” representing an independent voice for the needs of children in the legislature, media and community. ACY has helped shape public policy, funding and programs at the state and local levels so that all children have a better chance of becoming healthy, educated, and productive adults. The mission has remained unchanged since its founding — to identify problems, promote policies and programs that improve results for Maryland children in measurable and meaningful ways, and evaluate the effectiveness of programs and policies for the children of Maryland.

Maryland Citizens Health Initiative: Created in 1999 for the purpose of working toward a plan of universal health coverage for all Marylanders, the organization is creating a model for an affordable plan to insure 650,000 Marylanders who lack health insurance, providing public education on the broad issues surrounding the economic impact of an uninsured population, and forming a broad coalition for the purpose of legislative action.

CASH Campaign (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope): The organization was formed in the Fall of 2001 to implement strategies to increase economic opportunities for low-income Baltimore families. Campaign activities are organized around three broad categories: providing free tax preparation services; marketing and outreach to families eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit; and encouraging asset development through increasing access to financial literacy counseling and low-cost financial services and saving opportunities.