Baltimore Native/Organization Giving Back Following Near-Death Experience

BALTIMORE, Md., Nov. 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Project Pneuma Founder and Executive Director, Damion J. Cooper, is using his inspirational life story of being shot an inch above the heart at point-blank range to teach Baltimore City youth valuable life lessons. In 2014, Cooper created Project Pneuma, a holistic mentoring program teaching BIPOC youth the power of forgiveness, discipline, and self-control following that terrible incident. Through the organization, Cooper now reaches fourth through eighth graders using his impactful story and techniques designed to put them on the right track.

Cooper grew up in Baltimore and has dedicated himself to helping young people find hope and opportunity. He attended seminary, where by chance, he discovered that one of his mentees in a prison ministry program was actually the person who shot him years earlier.

Project Pneuma looks to give young men tools needed to curb impulse actions from trauma, due to adverse childhood experiences. Cooper not only decided to "breathe new life" into his students, but to also partner with the Baltimore City Police Department. The program helps build bonds of trust, respect, and cultural competencies between the community and law enforcement. Twice a week, the boys of Project Pneuma visit the Baltimore Police Academy and run programming with the officer trainees.

Cooper currently serves as the Vice-Chair on the Core Team of the Community Policing Committee that is directly responsible for rewriting the Baltimore Police Department’s Training Curriculum, Community Policing Plan, and the federally-mandated Consent Decree focusing on police and youth engagement.

"After I got shot, I was emotionally and spiritually broken. At one point, I even considered taking my own life," says Cooper. "Through the work I do now, if I can forgive the man that shot me, I can teach the boys of Baltimore that forgiveness and emotional wholeness are healing and real strength."

Project Pneuma "breathes new life" into the young men they serve by allowing them to start their own journey on the path to positive change. The organization partners with more than 20 schools and works with more than one thousand boys. The core programming for Project Pneuma consists of social-emotional literacy, academic enrichment/tutoring, public speaking, physical fitness and more. While boys are in school, Project Pneuma monitors their attendance, report cards, and aims to decrease suspensions.

The West Baltimore Renaissance Foundation recently awarded Project Pneuma with a $150,000 grant. The grant will allow for Project Pneuma to sponsor 42 boys from three Baltimore City Public Schools. With the grant, Project Pneuma will be able to offer for the first time full, wraparound services to the boys, including mental health and world class academic support. Other Project Pneuma partners include Under Armour, Sylvan Learning, and the Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation.

To learn more and support the work of Project Pneuma, follow @projectpneuma on Instagram, or visit

About Project Pneuma

Project Pneuma is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides males in the fourth through eighth grades in Baltimore City Public Schools with the opportunity to grow through nine core programs, including social-emotional literacy, academic enrichment, and mindfulness training. The organization partners with the Baltimore City Police Department, multiple Baltimore City Public Schools, and has served more than 1,000 students in the Baltimore area. To learn more, visit

Additional information on Project Pneuma, with images and videos can be found here.

Kelja Stevenson                                                                                    
(980) 355-1916

SOURCE Project Pneuma