By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
KCK watch party for top 100 list. - Alan Shope/KCTV
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -
Kansas City, KS, has been named one of America's Promise Alliance's 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING.
The national award was given to KCK 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.
The award was given after Dr. Cynthia Lane, superintendent of the Kansas City, KS, Public Schools worked with community leaders to complete an application last spring.
"As a school district, we are dedicated to not only the education of young people, but also to their overall growth and well being, and we have so many partnering organizations throughout this community that help to make that possible," Lane said in a release. "Many dedicated people and programs contributed to this recognition, and this award further reinforces our belief that a focus on youth pays dividends for the entire community."
A first-time winner of 100 Best, KCK was recognized for its dedication to improving educational outcomes for area youth. KCKPS had a major role in those efforts, working to raise math proficiency from 3 percent to 68 percent, and reading from 11 percent to 67 percent on state assessments.
To address low achievement, the district instituted a reform program called First Things First, which helps foster youth development by strengthening relationships between adults and children, and between schools and families. In addition to the reform effort, the district also implemented Early Release Wednesdays, a model that dismisses students from school early to provide teachers with extra time to work together to strengthen their teaching skills and develop comprehensive lesson plans. The effort wouldn't have worked had it not been for support from community partners to help find safe places for young people to go Wednesday afternoons.
KCKPS' Link Crew program helps rising freshmen transition from middle school to high school with the connection of a mentor. Seniors and juniors are trained as mentors to help freshmen understand what it takes to be successful in high school.
Wednesday the city held a watch party at the school headquarters and officials said it's a great award and a great day for KCK.
"It's a large city, but it's really a small town. The community comes together to do whatever it takes to support the youth," Lane said.
"This is really about not just what's going on in schools, and that's so important, but it's about a community coming together too. It's the local government but, even more importantly, our own citizens rallying around our young people," Unified Government of Wyandotte County Mayor Joe Reardon said.
KCK 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.
On the Missouri side, Columbia was also on the list. It's the sixth year of the American Promise Alliance top 100 list.
Lawrence and Salina are previous Kansas winners on the list.
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