Fort Worth, Texas
First-time winner Fort Worth is committed to creating a child-friendly and college-bound culture by investigating the problems surrounding local dropout issues, researching and identifying strategies, implementing the solutions and evaluating the effectiveness of those efforts. The Mayor and City Council have budgeted $13.6 million to provide young people with access to programs and collaborate with a number of local, state and national entities to strengthen the city’s offerings.
The city’s many initiatives designed to improve the wellbeing of youth include the Early Childhood Matters Initiative. Through Early Childhood Resource Centers, families learn how to develop their children's social, emotional and pre-literacy skills so that they are successful when entering kindergarten.
The LeaderKids Fort Worth is a program for middle school students ages 11-14 as a collaborative effort with existing organizations and resources, including the Fort Worth Independent School District, YMCA, Because We Care and Tarrant County Youth Collaboration and more. The program introduces students to the City of Fort Worth in two ways: career presentations allow them to visualize personal achievement as adults, and volunteer opportunities allow them to improve the community in which they live now.
Another collaborative initiative that seeks to encourage teens to return to school and graduate is Prevail to Graduation. This joint effort among the City of Fort Worth, the Fort Worth Independent School District, the Fort Worth Chambers of Commerce and others involves a Stay-in School Walk to contact students by phone and home visit to re-enroll in fall classes. Community Action Teams are composed of eight individual teams: business, faith, government and social service communities along with parents, students and educators. CATs are charged with enacting recommendations, primarily with those outlined in Project Prevail, the FWISD’s comprehensive school completion plan.
The Fort Worth community is also dedicated to securing the afterschool lives of its youth. Eighty-five different school sites, seven Boys and Girls Clubs and the City of Fort Worth’s 19 community centers provide outlets for students. But to alleviate the growing cost of running these programs and provide alternatives, the Fort Worth After School Program was launched. The funds for this program resulted from the Crime Control and Prevention District Tax which was created to provide additional funds for the Fort Worth Police Department for tactical weapons, vehicles and crime prevention. The afterschool program works to improve student achievement, reduce the drop-out rate and assist in the reduction of juvenile crime.
The Fort Worth community supports a number of GO Center projects through its educational and community partnerships. A GO Center is a college and career information, center typically located in high schools, that focuses on creating a school-wide college-going culture and promotes college awareness and accessibility. Ft. Worth was among the first regions in the state to expand this model in order to make GO Centers available in faith and community based locations, thus bringing information about college and financial aid assistance directly to the neighborhoods.