- Community name: Bedford
- Community or city website
- Population: 13,765
- Graduation rate: 99%
- Youth poverty rate: 2.4%
Bedford, a fourth-time 100 Best Communities for Young People winner, boasts a near perfect graduation rate and offers its young people a wealth of resources to aid in their positive development, including the Youth Policy Task Force. The task force is a program that ensures area middle school-aged youth have a safe space to gather during non-school hours. The program started a Fridays Free program, which pays for monthly middle school social and recreational events like dances and sports. It also supports an after-school supervised drop-in center. Another resource for middle school students in Bedford is the Bedford Youth and Family Services’ Peer Mentor Program. The mentor program allows high school students to mentor middle school students while providing guidance and also learning the value of giving back. The community also shows its young people the value of public service through volunteering at events such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and Pan Mass Challenge Kids Ride.
- Bedford Youth and Family Services’ Volunteer Opportunity Program offers local and regional opportunities for youth to foster the development of service learning coordination and implementation programs in the community.
- Bedford’s Pan Mass Challenge Kids Ride has about 400 youth participants annually to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and its Jimmy Fund. The 7th annual ride raised over $400,000 for cancer research.
- The Peer Mentor Program enables high school students to mentor middle school youth. The junior mentor program pairs high school juniors with freshmen.
- The Bedford Youth Policy Task Force provides space for monthly middle school events, such as dances, game nights and open gyms for 200 to 300 students. Known as the Free Fridays program, these events are made possible through a grant from the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance/Community Health Network Area.
Bedford Youth and Family Services partnered with schools, police and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to develop a voluntary alcohol and drug diversion program for youth.
In the summer, Bedford boasts a wide variety of programs, so that any child of any age is bound to find something fun to do.
This summer I participated in the local access TV station’s intern program, and the Director, Madeleine Altman ended up becoming my friend and mentor. My relationship with her caused a lot of personal growth and career guidance, which is representative of many young people’s experiences with adults in Bedford.