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09-21-10 Chesterfield County Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People Four Years in a Row
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2010 News Releases

For Immediate Release

Chesterfield County Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People Four Years in a Row

September 21, 2010
Youth Planning and Development

Chesterfield County, VA — The efforts of Chesterfield County civic and community leaders were honored today when America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to youth and children, announced that Chesterfield County had been named a winner of the Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People competition presented by ING, a global financial services company and leading provider of retirement plans and programs for teachers. Its 2010 recognition marks the fourth win for Chesterfield County 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 competition is open to all communities that make children and youth a priority, including small towns, large cities, counties and school districts. In addition to enhancing local educational opportunities, most winning communities have taken steps to facilitate improved access to health care for its young people, encourage youth civic engagement and supply developmental resources that create better places for young people to live and grow. 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, Chesterfield County 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. “Chesterfield County serves as an example to inspire and educate other communities across the nation to tackle the challenges facing their county and children, and to implement initiatives that give them the essential resources they need to succeed in life.”

Chesterfield County was named one of the nation’s 100 Best because of its collaborative approach to addressing youth-related issues, as well as its unique, innovative and results-driven youth programs. By working to address identified needs, a partnership between the county and the XZone, a local non-profit organization, resulted in the development of a skateboard park, a project initiated because community teens expressed concern with a lack of “skater-friendly” facilities.

A successful transition from middle to high school is a predictor of a student’s future academic success. The JumpStart-to-Success program identifies eighth-graders who are struggling academically and are likely to struggle in ninth grade. Students complete two core classes in summer school, getting a “jump start” on their high school career. They also get support from older teen mentors throughout their freshman year. All these students, in turn, participate in a variety of community-service projects, including tutoring elementary students.

The young people themselves can take the credit for some of these successful programs because of their participation in the Youth Services Citizen Board, which meets each month to plan programs, develop workshops and make policy recommendations to the county. According to Abby Badura, teen member of the YSCB, “Because the leaders in our community truly care about the issues young people are facing and strive to find ways to better solve them, they allow the youths on the citizen board to offer their unique and firsthand perspective and recommendations.” One youth recommendation that was put into action is BandFest, a music festival that gives young people an opportunity to showcase their talents, as well as develop leadership skills through planning, promoting and executing this community-wide event.

“In Chesterfield County, we are continuing to keep the needs of young people a top priority,” said County Administrator James J.L. Stegmaier. “We are honored to be recognized four years in a row by America’s Promise, and I want to thank the many county and schools employees, as well as members of the community, who have helped us achieve this prestigious honor.”

On September 21, 2010, Chesterfield County 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, Chesterfield County 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 Chesterfield County 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.”

Contact Person:  Don J. Kappel
Contact Email: kappeld@chesterfield.gov
Contact Phone: 804-748-1161

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