Manchester, New Hampshire

The community of Manchester – a two time 100 Best winner - makes a point to account for and address the needs of every young person. By working together to support the educational, pro-social, and physical needs of the children, Manchester parents, families, caregivers, policy makers, education professionals, civil servants, businesses, community based organizations, faith based organizations, and healthcare providers work alongside young people in the community to address those issues that matter most to the city’s youth. Manchester is known nationally for its work in designing, developing, and implementing youth leadership models.

The City of Manchester Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council has been active and involved in key policy and budgetary issues in Manchester since its inception in 1999. The Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council provides the City of Manchester with a youth perspective on public policy while nurturing healthy citizenry habits for the future of the community. Since its inception, the Council has advised the Mayor and Board on a variety of key youth-related issues, including community development granting, youth health, and preventing violence.

The City of Manchester through the Departments of Planning, Health, Youth Services acts as primary coordinator for many collaborative community efforts. In some cases, organizations like Makin’ It Happen – a community coalition affiliated with the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America – and Heritage United Way take the lead. The Manchester community has undertaken a “Weed-n-Seed Initiative” in collaboration for the past seven years, leading to the development of programs to reduce the number of youth in juvenile justice and improve youth health, among other examples.

The Manchester School District is constantly striving for improvement. The Superintendent of Schools has worked tirelessly to address the needs of a district that is challenged by a significant influx of new Americans from refugee camps as far away as Kenya, Bhutan, and Iraq. In recent months, a close collaboration between Manchester’s Board of School Committee city leadership has resulted in two significant outcomes. First, the current administration has worked with the Mayor’s Office to improve funding for needed resources in the school district. Second, the Superintendent, the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council, the School Disciplinary Work Group, and the Mayor’s Office have worked on a variety of policy and practice changes to improve graduation rates. New programs at the Manchester School District offer a variety of effective options for continued meaningful involvement in school by all students.

Manchester has a proud heritage of offering service-learning opportunities for youth.St. Anselm College’s Meelia Center for Community Service is the nerve center of Saint Anselm's bustling service community. The center employs nearly sixty student service leaders, who in turn recruit, place, and support over 200 volunteers and 210 service learners each semester who perform weekly service in over thirty community agencies. The City Year Young Heroes program is a Saturday service-learning program that aims to educate middle school students on important social issues and give them the chance to positively impact their communities.