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Parks, Recreation, and Community Service
Kent Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and ING
Competition Recognizes Communities Taking Action to Help Reduce Local Dropout Rates and Create Brighter Futures for Young People
KENT, Wash. – September 21, 2010 —The efforts of Kent civic and community leaders were honored today when America’s Promise Alliance (the Alliance), the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to youth and children, announced the city had been named a winner of the Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People (100 Best) competition presented by ING. Its 2010 recognition marks the first win for Kent in the competition.
The 100 Best designation recognizes those communities that make youth a priority by implementing programs that help keep children in school and prepare them for college and the 21st century workforce. The entire 2010 list of 100 Best Communities for Young People and their accomplishments can be found at www.americaspromise.org/100Best.
“Through its innovative and far-reaching programs, Kent is taking bold and effective steps to help their young people graduate and lead healthy, productive lives,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO. “Kent serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their city and children and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”
Kentwas named one of the nation’s 100 Best because of its community-wide effort to encourage achievement among local youth. Kent’s supportive business community actively re-invests in local young people by supporting youth athletic teams, sponsoring special events and holding mock interviews to prepare young people for the workforce. These efforts, created to instill leadership and a strong work ethic, are supported by the various local government commissions which young people serve on each year to create and vote on policies that affect their community.
“This is an incredible achievement for Kent and our youth,” said Suzette Cooke, Mayor of Kent. “We are fortunate to be home to an excellent school district, numerous corporate partners, an involved city government and staff – all of whom are committed to creating an environment that nurtures and prepares our youth for adulthood.”
Kent has made significant efforts to create strong learning centers for young people who struggle in traditional schools. The Kent Phoenix Academy and the Kent Performance Learning Center (KPLC) were created in partnership with the Communities in Schools of Kent and the Kent School District, to offer small classes that put students on track to graduate and continue their education or begin a career.
Communities in Schools of Kent has committed to making college a realistic goal for all of local youth. The program leads local campus tours, matches participants with career mentors and internships, and hosts a job shadow program and resume writing workshops.
"This is a wonderful honor for the community of Kent. We are thankful to partner with the city in working to keep students engaged in education and successfully preparing them for college and career. Partnerships are about caring and this award reflects the tremendous community spirit focused on supporting our kids and families,” said Dr. Lee Vargas, Superintendent, Kent School District.
On September 21, 2010, Kent and the other winners spanning 37 states were recognized at a ceremony in front of the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Each of the winning communities was formally recognized with a designation on a map of the U.S., illustrating the geographic and demographic diversity of the winning 100 communities. In addition to the 100 Best distinction, Kent and the other top communities will receive two road signs identifying the city as one of 100 Best, as well as a trophy to be presented to local officials later this year.
Alliance Chair Alma Powell and President and CEO Marguerite W. Kondracke revealed the list of winners during the national celebration. They were joined by Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president, ING’s Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs and Twilight’s Kellan Lutz, who both share a passion for the development of young people.
“ING is committed to children’s education and to the advancement of education initiatives that prepare them for successful futures,” said Mims. ”Our support for 100 Best demonstrates our goal of honoring communities like Kent that produce real, measurable results for improving the lives of young people.”
The competition is one element of the Alliance’s Grad Nation campaign, a 10-year initiative to mobilize all Americans to take action in their communities to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. More than 7,000 students drop out each school day in the U.S., resulting in 1.3 million young people a year. To help decrease these numbers, the Alliance is more committed than ever to recognizing communities – regardless of size, location or history – that are taking real action to help more young people stay in school and graduate on time.
“100 Best is an essential building block of an inspiring national movement that gives everyone a chance to ensure every young person graduates,” said Powell. “These winning communities refuse to let the challenges they face be the determining factor in the lives of their children and youth. Instead, they are helping to build an infrastructure of assertive, successful and dynamic young people that are the future of this country.”
Jeff Watling, Director, Kent Parks, Recreation & Community Services