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Strength Within The Community

Deb Luster
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As the Chief Impact Officer of Goodles I have the honor to meet amazingly generous and authentic people all over the country and the world. My favorite part of my job is to get to know so many miracle people that are impacting their communities.

Meeting Matt Hanna who founded Next One Up was a particular highlight. Coming from a family that has created models for lifting and helping at-risk youth over decades in San Francisco, meeting Matt and finding Next One Up resonated with me on so many levels. Next One Up has a profound impact on the Baltimore community, particularly in the lives of at-risk youth/boys. Here's a closer look at their impact:

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History:  Matt was a teacher right out of college and in fact both of his parents were teachers. He found he loved working with challenging students and while he enjoyed teaching he found that the school didn’t enable him to really touch lives.  He always wondered what was happening to the kids before 9 and after 3pm. He calls himself a SEEKER. What happens after 3pm, weekends, summer? What happened to kids that were not busy with sports…Under programmed kids? Most affluent families had soccer, money and rides to get there. As a college and professional athlete he felt sports (especially for young unprogrammed kids) could provide a way to fill gaps. Matt would find basketball and lacrosse camps and pay for programs and give them rides. Then kids would “owe” him to get committed to their lives. Matt began applying coaching techniques, structure and discipline and started the Lacrosse team at Patterson park, Baltimore. He made sure they were the best dressed team because he never wanted them to feel poor. This is where Next One Up was born. The kids needed scholarships to summer camps. Universities were not allowed to give scholarships so Next One Up was originally born 15 years ago to help pay for these athletes to go to these camps. In the early years (2009-2014) Matt ran Next One Up while teaching at a 

school East Baltimore. That classroom was actually his first Next One Up office. Matt left when the school started advising teachers to “teach to the test”.

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What is unique about the Next One Up Foundation? Matt takes his role as ED and Coach to the next level with high touch relationships. He has created space for boys (and young men as they grow up) as well as actually visiting their homes meeting people where they are at. While Matt has a wonderful supportive wife and three kids, he looks at Next One Up as a Fatherhood Project and finds he steps in as a father often. His demographic is mostly African American boys from age 12-20 in downtown Baltimore. His organization works with 20 kids per grade per year, grades 6-12 (about 200 students per year). He never really says goodbye to his boys/men. They get together for reunions and he is even helping alums in their 30s get jobs and reading resumes.

For 14 years Next One Up borrowed space all over Baltimore City with a vision of having their own space. Finally, after raising $3M, they found a great space and opened up “Base Camp” in November of 2023 completely owned and operated by the leaders and youth at Next One Up. They have class rotations, leadership and life classes. They have a gym, work-outs, and lockers. Matt is most proud of creating a safe gathering space where the students have dinner together most nights. Matt has a great team and also allows people in the community to also be involved.  

Matt claims that Next One Up is the most unique mentor program in town…I would argue it is one of the most unique and extensive youth programs I have encountered.

Some of the ways Next One Up serves:

  1. Empowering Youth: Through mentorship, academic support, and personal development programs, Next One Up has empowered countless young people in Baltimore to overcome obstacles and realize their potential. By providing positive role models and a supportive community, the organization has helped youth build confidence and resilience in the face of adversity.

  2. Education and Opportunity: Next One Up places a strong emphasis on education, recognizing it as a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty and violence. By providing academic support, tutoring, and access to resources, the organization has helped improve educational outcomes for participants, opening doors to higher education and career opportunities they may not have otherwise had.

  3. Community Engagement: Matt Hanna's leadership has been instrumental in fostering strong partnerships with schools, community organizations, and local businesses. Through collaboration and engagement with the broader community, Next One Up has been able to expand its reach and impact, bringing together resources and support to benefit at-risk youth across Baltimore.

  4. Positive Role Models: As the founder of Next One Up, Matt Hanna has been a powerful role model for the young people involved in the program. His dedication, passion, and commitment to making a difference have inspired both participants and volunteers alike, demonstrating the potential for positive change through service and leadership.

  5. Social Impact: Beyond the individual level, the impact of Next One Up extends to the broader Baltimore community. By investing in the potential of at-risk youth, the organization is helping to build a stronger, more resilient community, one where all young people have the opportunity to thrive and succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances.


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