By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Baltimore state’s attorney says there is a correlation between kids who drop out of school and whether or not they get arrested. To try to make sure that those kids don’t end up in her office, she’s starting an employment program to reduce truancy.

The pilot program will be offered to students who have missed more than half of their classes at the Renaissance Academy and Frederick Douglass High School. The 21217 zip code is targeted, it is the area that experienced unrest after the death of Freddie Grey.

At the Renaissance Academy, the principals from both high schools, as well as members of the state’s attorney’s office, school and business leaders and students witnessed the kick-off. 21217 is a neighborhood that scores well below average in most categories except for crime, where it’s near the top. With that in mind, Marilyn Mosby learned about federal dollars to try to help.

It’s called Project 17. Small businesses have hired 30 students from the two high schools. The kids agree to say in school and keep up their grades.

“And one of the biggest sort of promises that I made is that we would insure that we would get to young kids before they got to the criminal justice system,” Mosby said.

In Federal Hill, Derrick Faulcon and his brother opened Home Maid Brunch, a restaurant only open in the mid-day. He has committed to hiring some of the students.

“Me, myself, being a product of Baltimore Public Schools, being a child who was truant myself, I can clearly relate to the child and children who’s not coming to school,” Faulcon said.

At 30 students, the program is full and needs help to expand.

“But we are looking to place another 30 people, so we are asking that other businesses to step up,” Mosby said.

Those businesses willing to help are asked to contact Shalik Fulton the City State’s Attorney Coordinator for Youth Initiatives at or call 443.984.6176.

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