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Four times in a row! Northfield again named as one of the nation’s best communities for youth
Submitted by Zach Pruitt on Thu, 09/13/2012 - 7:46am
On Wednesday, Northfield was named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People, presented by ING. The national award was given to Northfield to recognize its outstanding and innovative work in addressing the high school dropout crisis and for its programs and services that make it an outstanding place for youth to live, learn and grow.
This is the fourth consecutive time Northfield has received this national 100 Best distinction. Each time, Northfield’s application has been written primarily by young people themselves. The Northfield Mayor’s Youth Council (an official City of Northfield Board of high school juniors and seniors) again authored this year’s successful application.
Four-time 100 Best winner Northfield helps youth reach their potential through a variety of educational, health and out-of-school programming. The Tackling Obstacles and Raising College Hopes (TORCH) initiative works to improve the graduation and post-secondary education rates of low-income and minority students. The program has helped raise the graduation rate among Northfield’s Latino students to more than 90 percent. The community encourages youth engagement and empowerment through endeavors like the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, a collaboration where local community partners work together to help identify gaps facing youth and pull stakeholders together to address them. Likewise, Northfield’s PRIMEtime Collaborative provides young people access to free, daily out-of-school activities such as homework assistance, skill-building workshops, community service and family events.
“Being named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best speaks to the level of commitment to young people in our community,” said Zach Pruitt, director of the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative. “There are so many dedicated youth, adults, and programs working to make this a great place for young people. This recognition further reinforces our belief that a focus on youth pays dividends to the entire community.”
“As young people across the country go back to school, it is especially timely to recognize communities like Northfield that have come together to make supporting young people a top priority and that are committed to helping young Americans reach their full potential,” said John Gomperts, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO. “The 100 Best winners are doing outstanding work delivering the Five Promises that create the conditions for all young people to have the best chance for success. We hope the example set by these communities provides inspiration for others to take action.”
“The increase we have seen in graduation rates over the past few years is due, in large part, to the hard work communities such as Northfield have done to make sure their youth have access to an outstanding education and support services,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and head of the ING U.S. Office of Corporate Responsibility. “It is also important for ING to partner with organizations such as America’s Promise Alliance so we can share these best practices and play a role in improving student achievement and the nation’s economy.”
Northfield will receive a $2,500 grant, signage identifying the community as one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People, and access to America’s Promise Alliance’s community development resources.
All communities entering the 100 Best competition completed a rigorous application where they provided details on how their existing programs and initiatives help deliver the Five Promises—resources identified by America’s Promise as being critical to the development of healthy, successful children: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; effective education; and opportunities to help others. Applicants also were asked to describe how different sectors of their community work together to help children and families overcome challenges. Most importantly, communities were judged on the strength and innovation of their efforts and programs to help young people graduate from high school prepared for college and the 21st century workforce.
In its sixth year, the competition experienced its greatest interest to date with nominations from more than 320 communities representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Winners were chosen by a distinguished panel of judges that included 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, 2012 National Superintendent of the Year Heath Morrison, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.
Two youth representatives also were named as selection panelists. These include Austin Bargmann, 15, from Brighton, Colo., a two-time 100 Best winner, and Ashley Levanduski, 17, from Paso Robles, Calif., who serves as a volunteer coach with an America’s Promise partner organization, The First Tee, an international youth organization that introduces golf and its inherent values to young people.
A list of all 2012 winners can be found at AmericasPromise.org/100Best.