DEI / Funding / Nonprofits / STEM

New funding is bringing growth for Baltimore dirt bike x STEM program B-360. Founder Brittany Young talks about what’s next

Young discusses recent national appearances, new local partnerships with the State's Attorney's office and B&O Railroad Museum, and why money speaks louder than words.

Brittany Young, CEO of B-360. (Courtesy photo)
B-360 founder Brittany Young has taken the program she founded that combines dirt bikes and STEM education to high-profile stages.

In April, she and several of the participants in the program made an appearance on the Kelly Clarkson Show, where they were surprised with a $10,000 donation from well-known motor oil brand Pennzoil.

In a TED Talk posted in May, she talks about starting the venture, and brings the international audience that can access clips from the influential video and conference series right to Baltimore.

And this month, she was honored as part of the Baltimore Business Journal’s Best in Tech with an award in the builder category.

But when it comes to growing the programming that serves youth and adults every day, Young said it’s prolonged financial support that has been awarded just this week through the Fund for New Leadership (FNL) and via a partnership with Microsoft at the end of 2020 that allows for B-360 to thrive and pursue its mission to utilize dirt bike culture to end the cycle of poverty, disrupt the prison pipeline and build bridges in communities.

“The other two people in my category were multimillion dollar organizations,” said Young about the BBJ award. “If I’m recognized enough to be next to multimillion-dollar organizations, when do I get to be a multimillion-dollar organization that can continue to do the work?”

Microsoft invested $300,000 in B-360 from 2021 to 2024 through a digital upskilling initiative for Black-led organizations serving Black communities. This was the first six-figure funding award for the company since it was founded in 2017.

Young is also one of 14 fellows that will receive $75,000 in unrestricted funds per year for three years, for a total of $225,000, from FNL. The national fellowship helps early-stage social entrepreneurs expand their work on crucial issues through a blend of peer coaching, leadership training and mentoring opportunities. Young isn’t the only Baltimore founder in the group: Bree Jones, founder of Parity, an equitable development company based in Baltimore that acquires and rehabilitates abandoned properties to create affordable homeownership opportunities for neighborhood residents, was also named a fellow.

With unrestricted funds from FNL, Young can pay herself a salary and hire full-time staff like a program manager, a case manager and a program coordinator.

“That’s the beauty of FNL — unrestricted dollars that are not controlled, or people telling you how to spend it,” said Young, adding that it shows “The belief in the founder and organization that we’re best equipped to solve our own challenges, and not limiting us to only spending on programming.”

Growth for B-360 means the org can expand with intiatives such as a recently-launched diversion program with the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. This redirects adult participants with dirt bike charges, traffic violations and nonviolent offenses to a 20-hour program that includes dirt bike and road safety, entrepreneurship and job training and access to STEM education in lieu of prosecution. Down the line, she also wants to expand to more cities — places like Philly, which has further criminalized Black dirt bike culture. It’s legislation that Young testified against.

“Just one year ago, everyone had their Black squares and freshly painted murals around Black Lives Matter, and how we need to redo the system and reimagine public safety,” said Young, referring to the nationwide uprising following the death of George Floyd. But she hasn’t seen the progress from most cites in action. She worries that legislation like the measure that was recently passed in Philly will only lead to more hashtags.

“I just want cities to work with us, pay us for our time to consult with them. We’re not just a STEM program. We also focus on advocacy. Let us be the experts in solving their challenges before things get too bad,” she said.

Here in Baltimore, B-360 entered a six-month partnership with The B&O Railroad Museum to house summer programming, which includes a summer camp where youth learn how to ride and repair dirt bikes. Compared against her bigger vision, it’s a short-term step. More growth, she said, could bring a permanent campus.

“We’ve been doing this work for all these years without money, so when does it get to the point when people acknowledge we’re here, we’re working and we’re a solution, it doesn’t have to be through other mediums of validation,” she said. “It can be because we have data and proven results.”

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: B-360

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