Arming the Cherry Hill Community with African-centered Knowledge and Empowerment that Manifests as Pride in Self and Community

By Cori Lucas,


The Youth Resiliency Institute (YRI)  is using Afrocentric arts of all mediums as a tool to bond and educate the youth and families of Cherry Hill. “For The Youth Resiliency Institute, art is not a means of improving families, but a means to remind those families of the power they innately possess and which can be harnessed to affect a new vision for community.” This organization is arming the Cherry Hill community with African-centered knowledge and empowerment that manifests as pride in self and community. YRI believes that everyone—schools, parents and community members—are responsible for their youth’s education, development and wellbeing. YRI is teaching students community advocacy and healthy personal development through cultural arts and rites of passage.


Co-founders and happily married Cherry Hill residents Navasha Daya and Fanon Hill are both musical artists. Fanon taught himself to play music, while Navasha is a Baltimore-based indie soul and jazz singer and a cousin of the late musician and writer, Gil Scott-Heron. They both have a background in education and are passionate about the presence and impact of Black arts in their community. Cherry Hill’s stories of violence and poverty reminded Fanon of his own home in East Cleveland. Thinking of East Cleveland’s culture and how it guided him, Fanon saw the unique culture that Cherry Hill possessed as an isolated neighbor of South Baltimore’s Inner Harbor district. Fanon and Navasha saw a culture and community that needed to be defended, elevated and appreciated, starting with the youth, and in 2010 they founded the Youth Resiliency Institute.


Given all the funding they needed, YRI would put it towards maximizing “the role and power that underrepresented voices have on impacting decisions and outcomes”. They would also direct money and resources toward supporting Baltimore’s Black families. In addition, they’d expand their reach to provide “access to vibrant culturally responsive equitable opportunity” which they define as vital for establishing healthy and thriving communities.


The Youth Resiliency Institute offers a variety of services aimed at mending the underserved Cherry Hill community. They host a training program for parents that teaches them to be the leaders and active role models that their children need. Mentorship and leadership programs are available for youth. They also offer consultations and technical assistance. Their most anticipated facet, the annual Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival, attracts thousands of patrons every year! To find out more about The Youth Resiliency Institute and donate to their mission to empower South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill community, visit their website at or follow them @youthresiliency.

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Ms. Tracey Aikens (YRI Community Arts Organizer), Abu The Flutemaker (YRI Master Artist-In-Residence), Brother Don Blackman Aziz (YRI Community Arts Organizer).

All February, we’re honoring a few of the many Black leaders in our community making history every day with #28DaysofBlackFutures.

This is a crowdfunding and narrative power campaign that amplifies and mobilizes resources for Black-led organizations serving Greater Baltimore.


Throughout the month, we will highlight 28 dedicated Black leaders and organizations on the ground creating programs and initiatives that drive health, wealth, safety, and culture in #Baltimore.


Let’s CELEBRATE these changemakers and SUPPORT their work! Our goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of this campaign.

Head over to to donate today! ❤️🖤💚


Let’s show up BIG for our Black leaders and their organizations!

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