Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The City of Oklahoma City developed the first Metropolitan Area Projects or "MAPS," a recreational and cultural facility to benefit all citizens. This $350 million investment has brought in over $3 billion of private reinvestment in downtown. MAPS was followed by MAPS for Kids, a dedicated tax to rebuild schools. Once complete, MAPS for Kids will invest over $700 million in public education.
Another initiative is Citizens Caring for Children, which is many times the first stop a foster parent makes when a new child is placed in their home. The organization provides resources include new clothing, shoes, socks, underwear, books, coats, pajamas, toiletries, stuffed animals, backpacks, school supplies and more. Citizens Caring for Children also has a Mentoring Program which provides an adult for foster children in need of a stable relationship.
The United Way of Central Oklahoma, established in 1924, is a leading collaborative agency. United Way’s annual campaign raised $20.2 million dollars last year for local programs and allows United Way to partner with 59 local social service agencies that provide critical services for our community. Successful Kids is one of United Way’s focus areas and just recently a report titled Vital Signs: Successful Kids with a focus on education from birth past high school graduation was released. The report provides up-to-date information and data to guide resources and decision-making for youth in our community. United Way is currently partnering with Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence’s Mentoring Matters to increase the number of volunteer mentors in our community.
Mayor Mick Cornett initiated a program called "The city is going on a diet." The program has been very popular and has to date resulted in over 40,000 people losing in excess of 519,000 pounds. Increasing the level of physical activity for children has become a greater community priority. Several members of the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team sponsor regular series of sports camps for inner city youth. The Oklahoma Fit Kids Coalition has also been actively involved in the community advocating for providing healthy choices for kids on the state level. The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon includes a Kid's Memorial Marathon to promote healthy children. Kids log 25 miles in the months before the marathon and run the last 1.2 miles together on marathon day. The level of participation continues to increase. In 2010, we had approximately 3,000 kids participate.
Communication, coordination, and transportation for youth represent some of the greatest challenges in identifying potential community services and service learning experiences for Oklahoma City youth. Helping to match youth to these opportunities is the Youth Leadership Exchange, which includes three separate youth leadership programs.