Chamisa students, teachers, administrators, County officials and community members gather for a group photo following today’s big announcement that County today was named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
- Annual Competition Recognizes Communities that Prioritize Youth Education and Well-Being
Los Alamos County today was named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING.
The national award was given to Los Alamos County 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.
Los Alamos County, a second-time 100 Best winner, makes youth a priority with initiatives focused on diversity, mentoring and health.
Los Alamos High School’s Gay Straight Alliance holds a Diversity Week to promote a culture of mutual acceptance and features a Dress to Express Day where youth are encouraged to express important aspects of their personalities through their attire.
The community values the insight of area youth and engages students in every step of the planning process, from brainstorming to building design of the soon-to-be-opened Teen Center.
The Teen Center will provide a new, safe and constructive place for students to gather outside of school.
Los Alamos County also offers the Lunch Buddies program through Big Brothers Big Sisters, which brings adult mentors to school to provide guidance and friendship to a mentee and his or her friends.
The issues of accessibility and affordability of health care are addressed through the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Community Health Council. The Council tracks area health outcomes with a special emphasis on monitoring healthy youth development.
LAPS Superintendent Gene Schmidt speaks with Chamisa students. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
“I am very pleased that Los Alamos has been recognized an one of America’s Promise Alliance 100 Best,” said Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Gene Schmidt. “It speaks well of a community that cares about and for young people. The many varied activities and opportunities available set a place at the table for every young person’s need. This commitment to bettering the lives of our youth does much to build a healthy community and visually demonstrate that we will do our part to enhance and enrich the lives of our next generation. As we receive this award, I want to thank the many dedicated people and programs that made this possible. This investment in the future of our youth makes a difference. I thank you for being there when our youth needs us most.”
“As young people across the country go back to school, it is especially timely to recognize communities like Los Alamos County 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.”
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.
“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 Los Alamos County 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.”
Los Alamos County 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.
Adults involved in the “100 Best” competition gather for a group photo. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
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.
Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess, left, and Superintendent of Schools Gene Schmidt discuss the importance of being recognized among the 100 Best Communities for Young People. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
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 included2012 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.