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Six Massachusetts towns cited as top communities for youth

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 12, 2012 10:48 AM

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Dedham and Braintree were announced as two of the six Massachusetts communities listed on this year’s America’s Promise Alliance list of 100 Best Communities for Young People.

The award recognizes communities across the nation that have made efforts to reduce dropout rates in their communities and acknowledges towns that provide service opportunities and support programs for their youth.

Both communities along with the other Massachusetts winners - Bedford, Cambridge, Fall River, and New Bedford - will receive a trophy, a $2,500 grant, and a sign acknowledging the recognition. The grant money can be used to help fund a specific youth program or help fund a local event to celebrate the win.

Dedham Middle School hosted a “watch party” Tuesday afternoon for students who attended the College Bound Program, the Dedham Youth Commission staff, and town officials. Participants watched a live awards show broadcast by the organization online, and afterward Town Administrator Bill Keegan addressed attendees.

According to a news release from Dedham's Youth Commission about the award, students involved in the Commission submitted an application to the program earlier this year highlighting the efforts of local youth-centric groups.

In Braintree, School officials compiled the application after they were invited to participate.

"We received an invitation back in April from America’s Promise Alliance, and looked over the material and thought we might be a viable candidate as a community," Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said. "Our assistant superintendent Maureen Murray and Barbara Mello from the town worked together to put the application together and answer the questions and pull various material requested as to things going on in the town, some testimonials from a few students. Staff put together statistical evidence and the application went in."

Applications from each city or town were placed in a pool of more than 320 nominees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands and judged by a panel of business and nonprofit leaders.

In early September, the district found out they were a finalist, and found out they won on Sept. 12.

The award not only recognizes the school for the work done developing programs to keep kids in school, but the work of the Youth Center in town as well.

"I think what it does is recognizes the hard work that people put in to making this community a better place for its youth, and honestly to be recognized by an outside group makes it one of those special moments for the community to be able to reflect on their accomplishments," Kurzberg said.

Most likely the funding will go to the Youth Center as well as to school programming.

The awards were not based on the wealth of communities or size, the website said, and no specific program to prevent dropouts was preferred.

This is the sixth year for the application-based competition. For more information on the winners, visit the competition's website.

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