Meridian, Idaho

Meridian – a three time 100 Best winner -- prides itself on being a unique city with an abundance of lifestyle choices which support the commitment to maintaining a safe and caring community where young people feel accepted, respected, and connected. The city government and civic leaders are extremely pro-active in engaging youth in nearly every aspect of community life, including community service and opportunities to provide a youth perspective in policy making, advocacy, and issues of importance to young people. Home to several award-winning programs that are aimed at youth, Meridian is leading the way for other communities in Idaho to follow.

Meridian is committed to empowering youth in a number of ways, with no less than four programs operated by the Mayor’s Office that are focused on youth. Specifically, Meridian’s Promise, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Commission (MYAC), and the Youth Scholarship Program. Each of these programs has a dedicated staff member to ensure they are a success. MYAC is a City funded youth service and activity program that meets weekly with the Mayor to discuss ideas, policies and programs that impact area youth and the entire community. Most recently, the MYAC has been instrumental in bringing attention to the dangers of texting while driving and its impact on youth.

Since 2006, Meridian’s Promise has provided a mechanism for the community to work together to identify needs, opportunities, and priorities by bringing together businesses, school leaders, churches, non-profits, city and community leaders dedicated to assuring positive outcomes for youth. Meridian believes that a drug-free community is the best environment for kids to live and learn; the Mayor established the Mayor’s Anti-Drug Coalition (MADC) in 2004. MADC is comprised of parents, teens, educators, city leaders, faith community, businesses, civic organizations, neighborhood groups, and individuals in recovery who know that citizens must rally together to combat drug use and abuse. Through live theatre, video and poster contests, family forums, parades and rallies, home drug test kit distribution, and other innovative methods, MADC members collaborate to encourage youngsters to make good choices and achieve positive outcomes.

Meridian’s Parks & Recreation Department converted their old facility into Meridian’s first Community Center, creating more space and opportunities for youth in the community. This facility holds children’s classes, activities, and day camps during the school year and the summer months. It has also housed rehearsals for a children’s musical theatre production organized by the Meridian Arts Commission.

The Meridian School District has several programs in place to prepare students for college and the workforce. They have added support personnel, increased graduation requirements, developed Plato Credit Recovery courses and require intervention courses for all secondary students working below grade level. There are multiple Professional-Technical programs that have been developed as partnerships with businesses and other community members.