Fall River, Massachusetts
- Community name: Fall River
- Community or city website
- Population: 90,853
- Graduation rate: 85.0%
- Youth poverty rate: 28.9%
As a second-time 100 Best Communities for Young People winner, Fall River is a community that truly lets its young people have a voice in developing their futures. Their Youth CHOICES Collaboration ensures the healthy development of local youth by bringing together various organizations and sectors to provide essential services. Fall River’s YOUth VOICE (Volunteer Organizations to Increase Community Engagement) also helps youth get involved in making a difference in the community. Through YOUth VOICE, 25 youth representatives developed and signed the Fall River Youth Bill of Rights, which helps young people in the community articulate their goals for the future and explain how they can use existing resources to reach these goals. The community also boasts a “Stay in School” initiative at the Boys & Girls Club of Fall River, as well as the Shannon Community Safety initiative, which is dedicated to addressing gang violence.
- The Youth CHOICES Collaboration uses the America’s Promise Alliance framework to unite community organizations to mobilize for healthy youth development through positive opportunities, intervention, prevention, collaboration, empowerment and support.
- YOUth VOICE (Volunteer Organizations to Increase Community Engagement) unites the efforts of youth leadership groups to make a difference in the community.
- The Shannon Community Safety Initiative uses a comprehensive approach to develop programs and policies that address gang and youth violence.
- The Boys & Girls Club of Fall River has a “Stay in School” initiative that provides encouragement and incentive for youth participants to pursue their education.
- YOUth VOICE organized a summit called Increase the PEACE (Promises Encouraging Active Civic Engagement) to connect youth to positive opportunities an increase civic engagement.
About two years ago, Team FRESH (Fall River Extends Supportive Hands) put together the Youth Bill of Rights. Not many kids can say that they discussed their schools’ budgets and policies with their mayor and school officials, and even fewer can say that their opinion was valued in these discussions. But, due to a commitment to youth involvement and a promise made by the city to us, I can.
This strong relationship between the adult and youth communities has allowed the youth to gain a voice and a choice in their community, one that is incomparable to any other community.