- Community name: Lakewood
- Community or city website
- Population: 58,163
- Graduation rate: 85.0%
- Youth poverty rate: 14.8%
Lakewood, a five-time 100 Best winner, has unique collaborations among local organizations. The Lakewood Community Collaboration group, composed of more than 200 members from more than 120 organizations, has created mobile food services, a collaborative housing strategy and a community-wide plan for cross-agency work that focuses on the needs of its youth. Together, the Pierce County Mentoring Partnership and the Caring Adult Task Force host a county-wide event that recognizes mentors, mentees and the various mentor programs available through different community organizations.
Beyond community involvement, Lakewood also allows its young leaders to have a voice in community decisions. The Lakewood Youth Council for example, which began as a single student initiative and has grown to as many as 20 members, conducts research and compiles reports that address youth issues and programs. In addition, this organization often represents the city at various events and recruits new student members for community service.
- The Lakewood Youth Council compiles data for reports related to youth issues and youth programs.
- The Lakewood Community Collaboration brings local nonprofit service providers together to network and explore areas where they can collaborate.
- The GEAR UP program transports local high school students to the middle schools so middle schools students can discuss transition issues with experienced mentors.
- The Pierce County Mentoring Partnership and the Caring Adult Task Force host a county-wide event that recognizes mentors, mentees and the various mentor programs available through different community organizations.
- To ensure youth have safe places to go, the Lakewood Family YMCA offers after-school programs in elementary schools as well as a free late-night drop-in center for teens.
The Lakewood Youth council is a group of high school students who represent their schools and work hand-in-hand with the City council. I have had the privilege to be a part of this group, and it has been a wonderful experience. We get to represent our high schools and make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Many students use the local programs to help sort through and decide what path they should take and figure out what they want to achieve for their career and life goals.