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America's Promise Returns to NLC Meeting.

At last year's Congress of Cities, General Colin Powell urged local elected officials to make commitments to youth in their communities.

"It is a `must' to make the future of youth the highest priority for our cities. It is in our neighborhoods, our schools, and our recreation centers that America's Promise becomes a reality" said Genera] Powell.

Many local elected officials have responded to his request. At this year's Congress of Cities, America's Promise returns to highlight examples of these local commitments to youth.

Resources for Youth

The five fundamental resources are:

* a caring adult--parent, mentor, tutor, coach;

* safe places and structured activities during non-school hours;

* a healthy start;

* a marketable skill through effective education; and

* an opportunity to give back through service.

America's Promise, chaired by General Colin Powell, began at the April 1997 Presidents' Summit for America's Future held in Philadelphia. It is a national movement to rebuild America's commitment to its youth.

Initially, 140 cities joined the living Presidents and General Powell in Philadelphia and signed a declaration, pledging that their children and young people would have access to all five fundamental resources. America's Promise works to increase this number.

NLC has been instrumental in helping to expand this movement. Many of the over 300 communities that have joined with America's Promise are NLC members.

During his tenure, NLC President Brian O'Neill has made family and youth development a priority and established the Task Force on Youth, Education, and Families.

This Task Force, chaired by Boston Mayor Tom Menino and vice-chaired by Waco Mayor Mike Morrison and Council President Pro Tem Les Wright of Columbus, Ohio, has released a report outlining important measures cities can take to support youth.

Individual elected officials play critical roles in achieving the goals of this task force and of their Communities of Promise. Some officials lead their city initiatives; others are instrumental in generating commitments from various sectors, particularly the business sector.

Some officials reinforce their community initiatives by supporting policies and directing the resources of public agencies to help local youth. Others enlist youth themselves to assist the city in reaching its objective of providing all five resources.

* Lake Charles Mayor Willie Mount, whose office is developing a database to track progress in providing the five resources, has also been a catalyst for action throughout Louisiana. "We must labor tirelessly to ensure that children in urban and rural areas have the five resources," said Mayor Mount.

* In San Francisco, Supervisor Gavin Newsom, an enthusiastic supporter of San Francisco's Promise, recently presided over its local launch and the opening of its first School of Promise, the A.P. Giannini Middle School. Through its Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, the school will provide 250 youth with all five resources.

* Detroit's Mayor Dennis Archer personally met with the big three auto makers and helped craft their commitment to Detroit's Promise. Over 60 other businesses and organizations will also provide resources to youth in five targeted Detroit neighborhoods.

* Long Beach, Calif. Mayor Beverly O'Neill led the passage of an ordinance encouraging city employees to volunteer with youth in the city. Her office has also hired a youth services coordinator to help organize youth activities in each city department and publish an annual report.

* Commenting on the new Youth Advisory Council that works with his adult advisors, Mayor Gary Hanson of Sioux Falls said, "While at the Summit, opportunities to involve youth and corporate responsibility were discussed. And then it hit me like a two by four, that local government has as much responsibility to help youth."

At this year's Congress of Cities in Kansas City, Missouri, America's Promise will highlight these and other city successes during the Showcase of Cities. At this exhibit on Thursday and Friday afternoons, local officials will have the opportunity to interact with the staff of America's Promise and pledge to create their own Communities of Promise. On Friday, December 4th from 5:30 to 7pm, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is generously sponsoring a reception, which will celebrate local community involvement and highlight the joint initiatives of the two Kansas Cities.

And, on Youth Day, Saturday, December 5, a workshop panel discussion led by local leaders and youth on "Keeping America's Promise" will take place at 11:00 a.m.

Details: For more information about America's Promise, please visit the Web site at www.americaspromise.org or phone Jim Scheibel at (703) 535-3862.
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Author:Nelson, Joanne; Scheibel, James
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 30, 1998
Words:733
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