On their face, Cincinnati, Ohio and Anchorage, Alaska would seem very different. The common thread is that they are both among the best communities in the nation for young people.
America’s Promise Alliance and ING U.S. announced the 2012 winners of the 100 Best Communities for Young People contest. The competition recognizes cities and towns with strong programs for youth, such as service and leadership opportunities and anti-bullying campaigns, and high graduation rates.
“Collectively, the winning communities surpassed the national graduation rate and have set an example of other communities to follow,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based America’s Promise Alliance.
Winning communities are from 42 states. California had the greatest number of winners with eight, followed by Florida’s seven and six each for Massachusetts and Virginia.
The winners have an average high school graduation rate of just less than 80 percent, more than the 75.5 percent national average. Some 21 winners achieved graduation rates above 90 percent. The full list of winners can be found on America’s Promise Alliance’s website.
Winning communities will each receive a $2,500 grant that can be used to fund a local program or put on a celebratory event. The competition, now in its sixth year, has 19 six-time winners and 18 communities winning for the first time.
Winners were chosen from more than 320 applicants from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The selection committee included the 2012 Nation Teacher of the Year and National Superintendent of the Year, as well as two nonprofit executives and two youth representatives. Communities under consideration had to show that the Alliance’s “Five Promises” had been met. They include providing caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others.
America’s Promise Alliance will honor the 100 winners during a live webcast from Washington, D.C.’s Newseum on September 12. Additionally, the organization will recognize two special award winners. The Outstanding Local Dropout Prevention Program award will go to St. Petersburg, Fla.’s Doorways Scholarship, which awards $7,950 scholarships, matched by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation, to students in grades six through 10 for two years of college or technical school tuition. Kyle Harris, a 16-year-old from Battleground, Wash., won the Youth Testimonial Award for organizing a walk that raised $2,000 for suicide prevention programs.