By Devin Bartolotta

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Opportunity is popping up in North Baltimore. A residential care center for boys with behavioral issues is now building a vocational school — hoping to give Baltimore kids a better shot at starting a career.

A centuries-old residential care center for young men will now be able to offer them even more than mental health care.

“It will provide automotive and carpentry programs, along with robotics and STEM,” Woodbourne Center Executive Director Tony Wilson said.

Monday morning, supporters and staff broke ground on the grassy lot at the Woodbourne Center, soon to be home to a 5,000 square foot vocational training center — complete with a mechanic’s garage and tech lab.

Wilson says teenagers won’t just leave the center with proper care, but now they’ll earn a certificate and boosted confidence.

“Our kids come here for treatment, but they don’t leave here with practical skills to take back into life, as far as employment,” he said.

“You’re meeting young people where they are. Everybody’s not necessarily going to go to college,” Andrey Bundley with the Office of African-American Male Engagement said.

Classes at Woodbourne will one day, hopefully, be open to the community — giving North Baltimore a better chance at success.

“It means a lot for the city. You know, the Woodbourne Center has always done great work, even with the group homes, and now they have this school they want to start with some vocational training — and that’s what our kids need,” City Council President Jack Young said.

The center is expected to be open by October.

The Woodbourne Center helps hundreds of Baltimore’s youth every year, through residential treatment, at schools and through foster care.

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