Little girl lying in a radio flyer wagon


Community Leader Spotlight with West Virginia’s Promise - The Alliance for Youth

Pamela Dugan has a passion for supporting young people, a passion that was ignited after serving as a Promise Fellow in PamJefferson County, West Virginia from 2001-2003. Today, Dugan serves as the State Director of West Virginia’s Promise – The Alliance for Youth

West Virginia’s Promise is a statewide program that mobilizes partners across the state to strengthen the capacity of local communities to develop and support young people. It mobilizes communities, raises awareness, and supports policies aimed at improving youth outcomes. 

Read Dugan’s full spotlight to learn more about West Virginia Promise’s statewide efforts to support young people. 

How does your work help create a GradNation for all?

I see my work as a partnership with West Virginia nonprofits, schools, and state agencies…together we make West Virginia better. The GradNation campaign’s goal is to raise high school graduation rates to 90 percent, and our work is focused on supporting students to stay in school and receive a high school diploma, especially the young people most in need of our support. 

We have been able to provide the opportunity for youth to make a difference in their families, at schools, and in their communities. With the help of over 50 partners throughout the State of West Virginia, we were able to serve close to 25,000 students in 2016 with our summer and year-round programs. 

This was possible because of our community members, who have shown that supporting young people is an essential part of our state’s fabric. They have volunteered more than 28,000 hours of their time to support our students and help them reach success. 

What successes in your community are you most proud of?

Our AmeriCorps VISTA Project is recognized throughout West Virginia, and all of our projects follow AmeriCorps VISTA’s core principles by serving an anti-poverty focus, community empowerment, sustainable solutions, and capacity building. 

Our VISTAs are an elite group of individuals who care about the children and youth in the communities they serve. They have planned and hosted robotic/STEM events, participated in multi-generational programs aimed at helping families thrive, and helped make remote afterschool programs more accessible for the community, just to name a few.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

Staying on top of everything and coordinating our statewide efforts. Our program serves the entire state, meaning we work with a variety of organizations that partner with us in many capacities, throughout numerous communities. 

These are our Promise Partners—the youth-serving organizations, colleges, schools, churches, and businesses that are essential partners in our efforts and provide a mechanism to fulfill our commitment to young people.

What principles guide your work in education and youth development?

The Five Promises! The Five Promises are our framework for everything we do, and everyone can have a role in delivering these resources to students. We mobilize our partners around these essential elements and make sure that every young person in West Virginia has access to all the Promises. This is making our state a stronger place to live, work, and play. 

Describe what makes your work unique in three words or phrases.

The little red wagon. It’s a symbol of childhood. Let’s all help fill it with a child’s hopes and dreams and pull it along!