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Baltimore Health Corps is coming to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 and unemployment

Baltimore city wants to hire 300 unemployed residents as contact tracers, care coordinators and support staff with the new public-private initiative.

A graphic for the Baltimore Health Corps. (Photo courtesy of City of Baltimore)

The Baltimore Health Corps launched this week to train and hire unemployed city residents to work in neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19.

The initiative is seeking to hire 300 people to perform roles including contact tracing, public health education outreach, care coordination and social support. The Baltimore City Health Department and Mayor’s Office of Employment Development hope to hire 300 residents and put a dent in the historic unemployment rate due to the pandemic.

“Whenever I talk about reopening Baltimore city,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said at a press conference on Thursday, “I’ve said we need to see a decline in the numbers, we need to see an increase in our testing capacity and we need to have a robust contact tracing program in place.”

The Baltimore Health Corps will be part of that contact tracing program, as it is recruiting 276 people in community health worker roles, including 38 supervisors. There are also openings for seven employment development roles, seven managerial roles, and 10 administrative roles. The goal is to not only provide a living wage during the pandemic but to give Baltimore residents a foot in the door in the community health worker field. It’s an employment area that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects to grow 18% by 2026.

Alongside city agencies, the program is being run by a public-private partnership that includes Jhpiego, Baltimore Corps, HealthCare Access Maryland and the Baltimore Civic Fund.

Previous healthcare experience is not required to be hired. What is needed is $3.5 million to fully fund the $12.4 million dollar pilot program. An initial donation of $2 million by The Rockefeller Foundation and a $4.5 million commitment from the city using funds from the federal CARES Act got the ball rolling, but more funds are still needed. Additional private funders have committed $2.3 million in support. They include: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst), the France-Merrick Foundation, the Goldseker Foundation, OSI – Baltimore, the PepsiCo Foundation, the Rauch Foundation, the Stulman Foundation, and the T. Rowe Price Foundation.

The initiative is preferentially hiring Baltimore residents who are currently unemployed and those that speak multiple languages, or languages other than English. You can apply now, here.

The Baltimore Health Corps is the latest in a series of public-private partnerships that came together in Baltimore city to address the health and economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent months, the city also teamed with nonprofit, philanthropic and business groups to launch new programs for small business assistance in underserved communities and to take its summer jobs program virtual.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: City of Baltimore
Series: Coronavirus

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