The Baltimore Squeegee Boys- The new approach

  |   Advocacy, Baltimore's Future, Community Engagement, Editorial Features, Education, Education, Jobs, New Ideas, Social Innovation, Workforce Development

The issue of the squeegee boys has been an ongoing “hot topic” in our city. For some reason, the residents in Baltimore along with the government officials, can’t seem to understand why they are on the corner “hustling” for change or dollars.

Let’s think about some of the potential reasons these teenagers would look for creative ways to make money

  1. The lack the education to apply for a job. It’s possible they can’t read an application to apply.
  2. Their household income is below the poverty line.
  3. They want to be ENTREPRENEURS but no one ever taught them the “secrets” on how to do so.

It could be a multitude of reasons, and in my personal opinion, I believe that those who initially started this concept (the teen that was on President Street years ago) is an innovation that we need to embrace.

I would argue stories of the “squeegee” boys being violent; thieves, or a threat to the tourist and/or citizens of Baltimore is not the actual reality of the ones that started this business venture out of necessity. It is those individuals that indulge in the violent activities that have always been an issue in our city. You can very well tell the difference.

I think the more significant issue is why hasn’t anyone in leadership taken the opportunity to help these teens properly. It’s clear that there is a need for a financial increase in their lives, and there is a way to do that.

Here are six ways Baltimore City leadership can adequately address the squeegee boys:

  1. Sit down and talk to the young men and find out what their needs or goals are. Listen to their story and value it!
  2. Help them create a plan that will adequately give them an advantage in life and not a disadvantage.
  3. Do not push these young men into jobs when they have excellent entrepreneurship skills.
  4. Use one of the 10,000 entrepreneurship programs in Baltimore City to help appropriately train them on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and leadership.
  5. Find them a mentor to help navigate through personal issues they may be encountering.
  6. Connect them with a therapist that can help them navigate through in mental health issues they maybe dealing with.

For so long these young men have been beaten down by our residents, government and visitors. The reality is they have a story and are valuable citizens to Baltimore City. If we don’t stop beating the talent we currently have down we will never have a better Baltimore but instead a Baltimore that has an abundance of resources and human capital that is underutilized.