Calling all Millennials! Do you think your community has what it takes to be considered the best place for our generation to live? What exactly is your community doing to help out the youth in your area and ensure a successful, happy future?
Well, if you don’t know the answers to those questions, maybe it’s time to find out. The 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING is an annual competition that commemorates communities making remarkable efforts to decrease high school dropout rates and provide access to educational and motivational youth services. This event is a key component of America’s Promise Alliance Grad Nation campaign.
America’s Promise Alliance (APA) is one of the nation’s largest youth advocate organizations and a proud partner of Mobilize.org. Their main program, Grad Nation, highlights their dedication to improving the lives of young people by reducing dropout rates and guaranteeing a large support system.
Through various collaborations with other committed individuals, organizations, and communities who all agree that youth are a priority, APA was able to launch a full-fledged battle against the dropout crisis. The movement began in 2010, and similar to Mobilize.org’s Target 2020 Summits, APA’s Grad Nation goals are to reach a national graduation rate of 90% by the year 2020 (Currently 75.5%, a substantial increase from 2002). APA’s campaign consists of 105 Dropout Prevention Summits that take place across the country and are geared towards “raising awareness and inspiring action.”
As a part of the Mobilize.org community, Millennials should all be able to agree on the value of a high school diploma and how crucial it is not just for the economy and society, but also for personal success, security, and happiness. Apart from attaining a high school diploma, APA strongly believes each child should have “the fundamental resources they need to thrive and succeed: Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others.” They’re mission is to address these areas of conflict in communities dealing with socio-economic disadvantages and are suffering from low performance high schools.
In order to form an incentive for communities to start engaging and following this model of doing right by the youth, APA and ING partnered up and created The 100 Best Communities competition, presently in its 6th cycle. The application is open to any community with any size, location, demographic, and resources, so long as it exhibits a unique approach to solving these challenges facing youth today. From small towns to large cities, the intention is to capture a snapshot of the entire country. The reward is a $2,500 grant which can be used to fund a local program or service, or for a local event to celebrate the win. The community also receives wide recognition ranging from national and local media exposure, to road signs, and even a trophy.
Applications are usually completed by groups with the help of local government representatives, and schools, as well as youth organizations and businesses; any community that is passionate about investing, developing, and bettering the future lives of young people is encouraged to apply.
The 2012 list of winners was chosen by a highly-esteemed panel of well-known civic, business, and nonprofit leaders. It consists of 42 states (a record for the competition), of which 19 communities have been honored since the first cycle, and of which 18 have been honored for the first time.
Nikole Cabrera is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. She is currently pursuing a Professional Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture at Syracuse University. Cabrera is a proud advocate of providing equal opportunities to every human being, volunteering for a number of causes related to education, Latinos, refugees, and poverty. In the future, Cabrera’s ultimate goal is to establish a philanthropic firm that provides communities in need, both in the US and developing countries, with low-income housing, schools, and community centers.