How Baltimore tutors fought to keep an AARP tutoring program in the city

Jamal Davis wanted to do something when he learned in May that Experience Corps, a tutoring program that links Baltimore City schools with adults 50 and older, might have to

close its doors due to insufficient funding. Experience Corps is run by the Washington, D.C.-based AARP Foundation, which advocates for adults 50 and older. After AARP

announced that it could no longer fund the tutoring program, a group of Baltimore-area tutors launched a campaign to keep it going. “When I heard about it, I reached out to

[the tutors], and asked if we could meet and just shared something with them,” said Davis, who joined Experience Corps in 2014 and has served as a tutor and a site coordinator. He

was previously paid $400 per month. “I knew about the program and funding sources, and some people out there that might lend an ear to what we were trying to do.” Elected

leaders, including Democratic State Senate President Bill Ferguson and Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, later intervened, according to Davis. Cohen said he contacted AARP

officials on behalf of the tutors and warned them that this kind of disinvestment would harm some of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Cohen said that some of the areas he

represents would have been affected, though he is unsure which ones. “For me, the decision to leave and evacuate Baltimore was unacceptable, and we asked that AARP consider

some different form of investment,” he said. David Schuhlein, a spokesperson for Ferguson, wrote in an email that among Ferguson’s efforts to keep the program, he

“advocated to the South Baltimore Gateway Partnership that they fund an Elev8 proposal for a $38,000 grant to provide stipends to Experience Corps [tutors].”