One of the Nation's 100 Best
Posted 02 - 23 - 2008
Nacogdoches County Named One of the Nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People by America's Promise Alliance

Competition Showcases Successful Efforts by U.S. Cities and Towns to Help Young People Succeed

America's Promise Alliance (the Alliance), the nation's largest alliance dedicated to children and youth, in partnership with Capital One, today announced that Nacogdoches County has been named a winner of its 2008 100 Best Communities for Young People (100 Best) competition. The 100 Best competition recognizes the 100 outstanding communities across America-large and small, rural and urban-that are the best places for young people to live and grow up. More than 300 communities in all 50 states applied for the honor this year. The 100 winning communities span 37 states.

Nacogdoches County was selected as one of the 100 Best because of the community's multiple efforts to help its young people succeed and the way the county has involved youth in its decision making. A prime example of this is the County Youth Board. This board helps county Extension agents determine what programs should be implemented from year to year, reviewing the educational impacts of programs, determining how to reach new youth audiences, and helping decide whether task forces or coalitions are needed to address priority issues. The community is equally committed to ensuring its youth learn about the community while discovering different career options. The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce's Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) Crew takes 8th graders on once-a-month full-day field trips into the community to learn about health care, higher education, manufacturing, natural resources, military and other career paths. The City of Nacogdoches Parks and Recreation Dept. provides staffing and coordination of the LOT program.

"Former Mayor Bob Dunn and I first looked at the program in 2006," said Chamber President/CEO Bruce R. Partain. "We decided it would take several months to complete the application process, and we needed a strong volunteer to head the effort. We tapped Candyce Wagnon, who was serving as the Chamber's co-chair of the SFA-Chamber Connection, and was involved in several other youth-oriented service organizations, especially Kiwanis, where she is now President-elect."

Wagnon worked on the application through the fall of 2007 and submitted in on behalf of the Chamber, Kiwanis, City and County in November. "Above all, working on this proved to me that we really do live in a great community," Wagnon said. "It was pleasing and wonderful to discover all that we do, have, and want for the young people of Nacogdoches County!"

"Candyce researched an enormous amount of data and involved many people and organizations," Partain said. "But she personally is responsible for at least 90 percent of the application. Our hats are all off to her for spotlighting Nacogdoches as a great place for young people."

Bob Dunn praised Wagnon's work, and agreed with her assessment of Nacogdoches. "Think of all the thousands of counties and parishes in America," Dunn said. "We not only have been recognized as a Certified Retirement Community by the state of Texas, but now we're recognized as one of the best places in America for young people."

The prestigious award program began in 2005.

"The prosperity of every community and this country depends on how well we care for our children and youth," said Marguerite W. Kondracke, president and CEO, America's Promise Alliance, "Although no place is perfect, when we have communities that make young people a priority and are working to make sure they stay in school and have all the resources necessary to lead healthy, productive lives, we must recognize them and by extension inspire other cities and towns to follow their lead."

"At Capital One, we are committed to building stronger communities, one neighborhood at a time," said Carolyn Berkowitz, Vice President of Community Affairs for Capital One. "That's why we're proud to partner with the Alliance on the 100 Best competition to recognize the tremendous work in communities across the country to create environments where children and families have boundless opportunities as well as the support systems necessary to champion their growth and encourage their success."

The 100 Best competition was first held in 2005. This year's winners were selected by a distinguished panel that included some of the nation's most well-known civic, business and nonprofit leaders such as: Gayle Manchin, first lady of West Virginia, United Way President Brian Gallagher, former Mayor of Denver and President of Webb Group International, Wellington Webb, Thomas Donohue, president and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Carol Coletta, president and CEO, CEOs for Cities, Christine James-Brown, president and CEO, the Child Welfare League of America, and Dr. Suzanne Morse, executive director of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change.

All communities that completed entries in the 100 Best competition were required to submit detailed information to the Alliance on existing community programs and initiatives that help deliver the Five Promises-resources identified by America's Promise as being critical to the development of healthy, successful children: caring adults; safe places; healthy start; effective education; and opportunities to help others; to their young people. Applicants were also asked to describe how different sectors of their community come together to deliver the Five Promises and specific efforts and programs developed to ensure that their young people graduate from high school prepared for college and/or the workforce. Each of these communities, regardless of whether they were selected as a winner, will be eligible to apply for $300,000 in grants from the Alliance next month.
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