FBI Baltimore
Baltimore Press Office
(410) 277-6689
April 16, 2024

FBI Honors Baltimore Community Leader with National Award

On Friday, April 19, 2024, FBI Director Christopher Wray will present Damion Cooper with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) for his service to the children of Baltimore. Cooper, the founder and executive director of Project Pneuma, receives the award on behalf of his work with the organization, which has impacted thousands of fourth- through eighth-grade boys in Baltimore City for ten years by offering afterschool programming that focuses on social-emotional learning, mental health, and healing-centered engagement. Project Pneuma also has a longstanding partnership with the Baltimore Police Department to proactively and positively engage with police officer trainees in the Police Academy and tenured officers to build bonds of trust, understanding, and love for one another.

The FBI established the DCLA in 1990 to publicly acknowledge the achievements of those working to make a difference in their communities through the promotion of education and the prevention of crime and violence. Each year, one person or organization from each of the FBI’s 56 field offices is chosen to receive this award.

Cooper has made significant contributions in the lives of young men in Baltimore. From teaching martial arts and yoga to how to regulate emotions, boys are introduced to practices and techniques that foster their development. By working to build their confidence and hone the skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond, Project Pneuma helps create future success for students.

“Investing in our children is one of the greatest ways to create a safer and stronger community. The work Project Pneuma is doing to build relationships, offer new opportunities, and provide mentorship not only changes the children’s lives but changes our whole community,” said Special Agent in Charge William J. DelBagno of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “FBI Baltimore is proud to recognize Damion Cooper for this award.”

“I personally want to thank FBI Director Wray, Special Agent in Charge William J. DelBagno, and the entire team of the FBI Baltimore Field Office for the Director’s Community Leadership Award,” Cooper says. “I also thank my outstanding team, Police Commissioner Worley, and Police Academy staff. The work could not be done without them. This is truly an honor! Being recognized by the FBI for the ‘heart’ work that is being done in Project Pneuma shows our amazing boys that they are seen, heard, and loved. This is what ‘Breathing New Life’ is all about.”

Director Wray will host the 2023 DCLA winners in a special ceremony at FBI Headquarters on April 19th, emphasizing the importance of community partnerships in keeping our shared communities safe. These partnerships—as exemplified by the breadth of the work by the DCLA recipients—have led to a host of crime prevention programs that protect the most vulnerable in our communities, educate families and businesses about cyber threats, and work to reduce violent crime in our neighborhoods. Learn more about the Director’s Community Leadership Award program, the FBI’s general outreach efforts, and the Baltimore Field Office online.

Baltimore SAC Presents DCLA Certificate to Community Leader
Baltimore Special Agent in Charge William J. DelBagno recognizes Damion Cooper as a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. Cooper's work with Project Pneuma has impacted thousands of fourth- through eighth-grade boys in Baltimore City over the past ten years by offering afterschool programming focused on social emotional learning, mental health, and healing-centered engagement.