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Honolulu ranks among top 100 communities for young people


Honolulu has again made the list of 100 Best Communities for Young People.

Communities on the 2010 list were chosen for collaborating to shape policy that serves the needs of young men and women and reduces high school dropout rates, said Jordan LaPier, senior director of the award program for Washington D.C.’s America’s Promise Alliance.

"Our winning communities are not perfect places," said LaPier at a news conference at Honolulu Hale yesterday. "Every community has its challenges. But these are communities that are dedicated to making youth a priority and taking action to make that commitment a reality."

Honolulu was also a winning city in 2006 and 2008.

"We have made it each time we’ve applied," said Mayor Peter Carlisle. "We are, in my opinion … an elite community in terms of where our children are."

Programs that contributed to Honolulu’s selection this year include the A+ after-school programs and Keiki Caucus, a group of lawmakers and administrators that proposes legislation to address the needs of children. Another is the Youth Service Center, which focuses on providing children with volunteer opportunities.

LaPier said that factors like Furlough Fridays weighed into the APA’s decision-making process this year but that ultimately the city was able to turn that negative into a positive.

"Obviously, Furlough Fridays were a downside, but the upside of that was that many local partners came together and created service opportunities for kids on those days when they weren’t in school," LaPier said. "They used that opportunity to enrich what they were learning in the classroom and connect it to experience in the real world."

The mayor praised the groups for their work when he accepted the pin-shaped APA award on behalf of the city.

"The work you are doing is going to transform our youth," Carlisle said. "You are the story today."

LaPier said Honolulu was one of more than 350 nominees drawn from across the nation for consideration, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Sam Moku, director of the city Department of Community Services, said the award would not have been possible without at least partial financial support from the Hawaii State Department of Health and Human Services.

Moku said that if the money from Department of Health special funds were to be taken away, as has been proposed in at least two bills this legislative session, the nonprofit programs honored by America’s Promise Alliance yesterday would "surely be affected."


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