The first class of sixth grade girls who enrolled in 2009 at the Baltimore Leadership School of Young Women (BLSYW, pronounced "Bliss") graduated in 2016. These young women were the pioneers at one of the newest public charter schools in Baltimore and this class had a 100% graduation rate and college acceptance.
In 2016 BLSYW was the recipient of a $20,000 BWGC grant with the funds supporting general operations of the school. The school's goal is simple – to give public school girls the same quality education and opportunities as their peers in private schools.
BLSYW admits students chosen by lottery and attracts students from almost every zip code in Baltimore city. In 2016, 75% of BLSYW students, ages 11 -18, qualified for free and reduced lunch and 98% of the students were African American. Class sizes are small and attendance rates are high. BLSYW cultivates strong habits of mind and a sense of community responsibility.
Today, almost 550 young women, grades 6 to 12, attend BLSYW a block from the Enoch Pratt Free Library, in a six story historic brick building which for nearly a century housed the headquarters of the Greater Baltimore YWCA. The college preparatory curriculum, which includes Science Technology Engineering Arts & Math (STEAM) at every grade level, prepares the students for success in college and in life. The academic success of the students is the primary focus of BLSYW and many teachers offer before and after school tutoring. The school experience is enhanced through numerous extra-curricular activities including a debate team, a book club, a robotics club, public speaking, and the step dance team. BLSYW has good reason to be proud of its accomplishments and its students. Three members of the step team were the subject of a recent documentary film, "STEP," which was selected as one of the feature films at the 2017 Sundance film festival.
The BLSYW education program plays a critical role in the empowerment of girls to achieve more in their social, economic, and family lives. When a girl has real opportunities in a supportive and responsive environment she can achieve her dreams. The girls in the class of 2016 are off to a good start.