Huntsville/Madison County, Alabama

Huntsville/Madison County—now a two-time 100 Best winner—is a leader in youth efforts from leadership to volunteerism. Huntsville/Madison County is poised to fulfill America’s Promise to community youth. The county works to identify areas of weakness and works to solve those issues through the skilled recruitment of volunteers.

The Volunteer Center of Madison County launched its Youth Volunteer Corps in 2005 to engage young people in service learning projects. The Youth Leadership Council, a group of 25 area high school students, lead the corps activities. Teen Think Tanks, Inc. organized in 1998 gives teens a voice to speak and be heard on important issues – especially youth violence and ways to prevent violence in schools. The Council on Services to Children and Youth is an inter-agency organization comprised of 20 local organizations that work with youth ages birth-18. Its monthly meetings for public and private agencies allow them to share information on events, activities and issues involving youth and families. The organization has existed for over 19 years, improving communication among the agencies and efficient use of public/private funds.

The Madison-Marshall Chapter of the American Red Cross partners with individual schools throughout Madison County to set up First Aid Rooms. Last year, specially trained First Aid Room volunteers assisted more than 21,000 ill or injured children in 22 schools, taking the burden of care off of educational and administrative staff. The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce is a public/private partnership with the Mental Health Center of Madison County to provide counseling, education, training and job search assistance to out-of-school at-risk youth. Madison County spent $108 million on services (excluding education) for children and families in 2010.

Family Services collaborates with the American Red Cross and 30 local businesses to provide an easy-to-find "Safe Place" for youth in crisis or at-risk as part of the National Safe Place program. Participating businesses include fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and malls. The National Children’s Advocacy Center offers SCAN (Stop Child Abuse and Neglect). SCAN is a school-based program designed to improve education and awareness of the issue. Staff members and trained volunteers teach children about personal safety, ranging from inappropriate touching to bullying. Huntsville’s Safety City provides K-3 students a safe environment for applying the lessons of bicycle, pedestrian, child passenger, and traffic safety. Safety City is a child -sized city of buildings, streets, crosswalks, working traffic lights, sidewalks, and a fire safety house that provides a simulated experience of how to escape a smoke filled building.