Tagged “Community Engagement”

Challenges of Poverty-Stricken Community Diminished Through Award-Winning Programs

Pascagoula, Miss.

No matter the challenge or obstacle, Pascagoula, Miss., always aims for excellence among its youth population. With a 74 percent district poverty rate, the community sees the importance of providing programs that nourish youth on multiple levels—mentally, socially, and academically.

Destination Graduation! is a dropout prevention program for at-risk students that allows interaction with business partnerships and industry and service groups to give students the opportunity to get involved in real-world situations. The program won the 2009 National Dropout Prevention Network's Crystal Star Award, and the community is continuing to provide positive resources. For example, an unused school was converted into a Family Interactive Center where families have a safe place to learn and play together.

Pascagoula was the first certified "Child Friendly Community" on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, in addition to being a winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition for its incredible work.

Family-Oriented Community Excels in Helping Youth Learn, Serve, and Grow

Butler County, Mo.

Family-oriented Butler County, Mo., has been putting forth an inspiring amount of effort into providing a multitude of opportunities for youth. "Learning, serving, and growing" characterizes the focus of this two-time winner of the whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Between community theater productions, spelling bees, and civic athletics, youth are involved in educational opportunities across a spectrum of subjects. A driving force in Butler County is the Community Resource Council, where more than 300 individuals and 100 local agencies participate in community action committees that promote healthy children and families.

Youth are even involved in developing local policies—almost every youth-serving program asks for youth participants to assess the community's role in meeting their needs and the programmatic effects through an annual survey.

From Health to Career Exploration, Youth Involvement Is Priority

Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.

Four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Mankato-North Mankato, Minn., understands that investing in the development of long-lasting partnerships that cater to youth well-being is crucial.

A variety of programs, like the Mankato Area Healthy Youth (MAHY), Envision 2020, and Greater Mankato Growth, strive to keep youth involvement a top priority. MAHY encourages kids to stay healthy, while Envision 2020 motivates youth and their families to participate in the planning process of a 10-year community priorities plan. Greater Mankato Growth furthers youth engagement by aligning classroom learning with career exploration, allowing students access to internships and job shadowing.

Enriching Young People From Elementary Through College

Kalamazoo, Mich.

Kalamazoo, Mich., is an exemplary community hub for young people and a two-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Focused on providing resources for youth in elementary school through college, the community has created enriching opportunities that will continue to foster youths' academic and nonacademic potential. The dedication is shown through community-wide programs, like the Kalamazoo Youth Development Network that has linked 82 agencies together to ensure that a wide variety of services are available to youth. For every graduate of the Kalamazoo Public Schools, the Kalamazoo Promise guarantees free college tuition at public colleges and universities in Michigan (if requirements are met). Over $17 million has been invested by donors to provide more than 1,500 students with post-secondary education.

Putting Youth Dialogue Front and Center

Barnstable County, Mass.

Barnstable County, Mass., a four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, has set the stage for youth dialogue in its community.

A variety of innovative partnerships have helped promote this dialogue, thanks to the Barnstable County Council for Children, Youth, and Families. These include

  • The Cape and Islands Youth Congress, a diverse group of high school students who encourage their peers to step up to challenges and be positive agents of change.
  • The Cape Youth Force, which enables youth participants to become involved in the grant-making process.
  • The Cape and Islands Gay-Straight Youth Alliance, a youth-led group that networks with fellow youth organizations across Cape Cod.

Barnstable County is definitely doing its part in promoting the value of youth engagement.

Inspiring Practices Serve As Models For Other Communities

Meridian, Idaho

Committed to sustaining a safe and caring community that enables youth to feel a sense of connection and acceptance, the unique city of Meridian, Idaho, is a wonderful place to be. This three-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition caters to its youth through various programs, including Merdian's Promise, the Mayor's Youth Advisory Commission, and the Youth Scholarship Program.

A specific example of success among these initiatives is the Mayor's Anti-Drug Coalition. Comprising parents, teens, and other community members, the group uses innovative methods to encourage the community to rally as one in the hopes of overcoming drug use. Meridian's practices serve as mechanisms in bringing the community together through youth empowerment, and it's clear that it will continue to be a model to other Idaho communities looking to shine.

Promoting Community Engagement through Youth Involvment

Honolulu, Hawaii

Ranked as one of the best places to live, Honolulu, Hawaii, is fully committed to serving its youth population. The city hosts programs such as YouthBuild Honolulu, a project aimed at motivating young and expectant parents to become self-sufficient, and 21st Century Ahupua'a Ambassadors Program, an initiative that encourages students to learn and be proactive about creating a sustainable environment.

The city provides local government support for the Keiki (Child) Caucus, a partnership focused on identifying and recommending legislation about issues that affect youth and their families. These programs are specific examples of inspiring practices Honolulu is using to spread the importance of community engagement among a wide range of individuals and speaks to why the city is a three-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

A Center For Youth Empowerment

Bradenton/Manatee County, Fla.

Four-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition, Bradenton/Manatee County in Florida exemplifies youth empowerment. Residents, schools, nonprofit organizations, and businesses place huge importance on intergenerational partnerships, enabling students to gain a strong sense of unity and volunteerism through numerous opportunities.

Twelve thousand youth participate in service programs annually, contributing more than 1.6 million hours to serving their community. Civic engagement programs, like The ManaTEEN Club and Helping Others Lead, Learn, and Achieve, serve as platforms for youth to truly exhibit leadership skills, including offering service opportunities for youth as young as 5.

Youth Well-Being Serves as Priority

Norwalk, Conn.

Youth truly serve as the ultimate priority in Norwalk, Connecticut. With a slew of educational resources and varied youth services that range from recreational leagues to financial literacy workshops to after-school programs, one third of Norwalk's adults volunteer their time to work with youth to ensure that they have all the opportunities necessary to nurture their academic and nonacademic potential.

Programs like the Center for Youth Leadership have received many awards for activism in the community and social change. Norwalk's commitment to providing for its youth speaks to why the community is recognized as one of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People.

Well-Rounded Community Has Multitude of Resources for Youth

Irvine, Calif.

Focused on maintaining a well-rounded community that flourishes with academic and service resources for youth, it's no wonder that Irvine, Calif., is a three-time winner of whole child partner America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People recognition.

Irvine truly exemplifies the importance in building a community that values child development, and their community programs include the community-developed Strategic Plan for Children, Youth and Families that addresses emotional, physical, academic, and social needs of youth; the Irvine Child Care Committee that works with School Readiness Programs to ensure that all of Irvine's youth have access to quality educational programs; and the Irvine Children's Health Program that reaches out to families in need of affordable health care for their children.

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