by Max Brantley
LITTLE ROCK NEWS RELEASE
Little Rock, AR— For the third year in a row, Little Rock has been named as one of the 100 Best Communities for Young People.
America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance), the nation’s largest alliance dedicated to children and youth, in partnership with Capital One, today announced that Little Rock has once again been named a winner of its 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People (100 Best) competition. The 100 Best competition recognizes the 100 outstanding communities across America—large and small, rural and urban—that are the best places for young people to live and grow up. More than 300 communities in all 50 states applied for the honor this year. The 100 winning communities span 37 states.
“I am pleased that, for the third straight year, the America’s Promise Alliance has recognized Little Rock’s efforts in regards to young people,” said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola from Washington DC where he is to receive the award. “From the City’s PIT funding and Parks & Recreation programming to the outreach efforts of the School District to the many after-school and summer programs, Little Rock is committed to changing the lives of young people and providing them positive opportunities.”
Little Rock was named one of the 100 Best communities in part because of the city’s efforts to help its youth overcome challenges and succeed. One example is the Youth Employment and Internship Program where 400 city youth ages 16-21 are hired as city employees and receive career exploration opportunities and job skills training. The program is administered by ten young people hired as Mentors. The Future Smiles Dental Clinic is a successful program working to ensure that low-income children receive proper dental care. Coordinated by Children International at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in partnership with 13 organizations the dental clinic provides annual dental screenings, sealants, and oral health education to 2,400 elementary students.
“The prosperity of every community and this country depends on how well we care for our children and youth,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO, America’s Promise Alliance, “Although no place is perfect, when we have communities that make young people a priority and are working to make sure they stay in school and have all the resources necessary to lead healthy, productive lives, we must recognize them and by extension inspire other cities and towns to follow their lead.”
"At Capital One, we are committed to building stronger communities, one neighborhood at a time,” said Carolyn Berkowitz, Vice President of Community Affairs for Capital One. "That’s why we’re proud to partner with the Alliance on the 100 Best competition to recognize the tremendous work in communities across the country to create environments where children and families have boundless opportunities as well as the support systems necessary to champion their growth and encourage their success.”
The 100 Best competition was first held in 2005. This year’s winners were selected by a distinguished panel that included some of the nation’s most well-known civic, business and nonprofit leaders such as: Gayle Manchin, first lady of West Virginia; United Way President Brian Gallagher; former Mayor of Denver and President of Webb Group International, Wellington Webb; Thomas Donohue, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Carol Coletta, president and CEO, CEOs for Cities; Christine James-Brown, president and CEO, the Child Welfare League of America; and Dr. Suzanne Morse, executive director of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change.
“As I noted in my State of the City Address,” Mayor Stodola commented, “the focus we place on young people is what sets us apart as a City and is one of the key reasons people will want to come here. I am pleased to be in Washington DC to accept this award, but the designation is not just in recognition of the efforts of Little Rock City Hall. We cannot do it alone; there are dozens of partners who join with us to focus on Little Rock’s young people. I know the Little Rock City Directors and City Manager Bruce T. Moore join me in expressing appreciation to these partners. I know they also join me in celebrating this achievement.”
All communities that completed entries in the 100 Best competition were required to submit detailed information to the Alliance on existing community programs and initiatives that 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; healthy start; effective education; and opportunities to help others; to their young people.
Applicants were also asked to describe how different sectors of their community come together to deliver the Five Promises and specific efforts and programs developed to ensure that their young people graduate from high school prepared for college and/or the workforce. Each of these communities, regardless of whether they were selected as a winner, will be eligible to apply for $300,000 in grants from the Alliance next month.