By Kari Cutler
Social Marketing Consultants
National Competition Recognizes Communities that Prioritize
Youth Education and Well-Being
South Salt Lake was honored today as one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING. The national award was given to South Salt Lake 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.
The only city to in Utah to receive this distinction, 100 Best winner South Salt Lake is being recognized for its multi-faceted approach to community support and engagement, and for creating multiple pathways for youth to stay healthy and be successful. Guiding this work for the city is the Promise South Salt Lake Initiative, the vision of South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood in conjunction with United Way of Salt Lake and other key partners. The initiative seeks to accomplish 3 outcomes, or “promises”: 1) every child has the opportunity to attend and graduate from college; 2) every South Salt Lake resident has a safe, clean neighborhood and home; and 3) everyone in the community has the opportunity to prosper.
“The success and momentum of the Promise South Salt Lake Initiative depends greatly on our partnerships,” says Mayor Cherie Wood. “For example, United Way of Salt Lake provides critical program support; exposure to and information about other exemplary local and national programs; a data management system; capacity building; planning and many other key elements. The South Salt Lake Coalition for Drug Free Youth that is comprised of a collaborative of community partners offers community level change work focused on eliminating drug use. The South Salt Lake Police Athletic/Activities League (PAL) focuses on life skills, academic competence, and character development through mentor relationships between young people, police officers, and community members.” Additional partners include: Granite School District and local schools, including 2 new charter schools, Alianza Academy (opened August 2012 serving grades K-8) and the Utah International High School (slated to open autumn 2013); Boy Scouts of America; English Skills Learning Center; Youthlinc, Utah Partners for Health; Utah Afterschool Network, Salt Lake County Youth Services; Utah Federation for Youth; Utah Food Bank; Latinos in Action; and many others.
In 2011, the partnerships provided programs that served 2,166 at-risk youth in South Salt Lake that focused on issues including academic support, positive youth development, college and career planning, and life skills.
“Being named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best is significant and meaningful to the entire community,” said South Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Snyder. “So many dedicated people and programs contributed to this win and it 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 South Salt Lake 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 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.”
At noon EST on Sept. 12, Gomperts will join America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell and ING Foundation President Rhonda Mims at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to officially announce the 100 winning communities during a live webcast.
As a winner, South Salt Lake 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.
The 100 Best competition is part of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis. The goal of Grad Nation is to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.
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.
Winners of the rigorous competition 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.
A list of all 2012 winners can be found at AmericasPromise.org/100Best.
The webcast can be viewed at AmericasPromise.org/100Bestwebcast.
Information about the Promise South Salt Lake initiative can be found at uw.org/our-work/promise-partnerships/south-salt-lake