Baltimore City Terminates $500,000 Grant to Pride Center of Maryland

A city contract worth $500,000 has been nullified by the Baltimore City Board of Estimates.

On Wednesday morning, the board terminated a grant agreement with the Pride Center of Maryland.

In 2022, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Programs (MORP) awarded the nonprofit $500,000 in grant money to create a violence intervention program aimed at assisting sexual and gender-minority populations in the city.

The director of MORP stated that the nonprofit failed to provide certain documentation and then failed to address its violations when given an opportunity to do so.

CEO Cleo Manago admitted that the Pride Center’s initial data was problematic, but argued that they had taken corrective actions to address MORP’s concerns.

He said the violence intervention program helps hundreds of people. Before the board voted, he expressed concern about how the grant termination would affect the center’s reputation. “The reason I’m here is because of what you mentioned in terms of the ramifications of this. And I didn’t want to have something done publicly, on the record, that had, as far as I’m concerned, some problematic reasons to make this decision without me addressing them,” Manago said.

“This is a concern for me as a former federal auditor, as the current chief recovery officer and as a steward of these federal funds with a high degree of scrutiny. Again, I don’t make this decision lightly,” MORP chief recovery officer Shamiah Kerney said.

According to Kerney, MORP had only given the Pride Center $250,000 so far, and she reported that only about $6,000 was remaining.

Mayor Brandon Scott explained his vote to terminate the contract, stating, “We know that Director Kerney, being a former federal auditor, also takes that very seriously. And we know that they offered curing and offered different opportunities to rectify these things, and unfortunately, for this particular grant, those things were not met. We’ll continue to support the Pride Center on the other things that we work with them on, and we’ll always do that.”

The money for the grant comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, from which the city received a total of about $650 million.