St. Louis Park, Minnesota

St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a four-time winner of 100 Best, provides its youth opportunities and support on multiple levels.  For example, the community has youth commissioners on the Planning, Parks & Recreation; Police Advisory; and Telecommunications commissions. Like adults, they have voting rights on policy and budgets, yet bring the unique perspective of a youth to many issues.

St. Louis Park is part of the Teens Alone consortium, a nonprofit providing free and confidential counseling and crisis services to teens and their families addressing issues of drug/alcohol abuse, emotional, sexual and physical abuse, racial issues, pregnancy, sexual orientation, family breakups and teen homelessness.

Children First was launched in 1992 as the first community-wide initiative to build "developmental assets" in young people. Through the impetus of Rotary, a partnership formed between the business, city, health, school and faith communities, Children First now has 150 local partners, representing police, fire department, parks program, library, business, congregations, elected officials, city, day cares, private and public schools, neighborhoods, youth and senior organizations. The police chief currently co-chairs Children First with a high school student.

Since 1996, Central Clinic, which is operated through a partnership with Park Nicollet Healthy System and the school district, has provided free physical and mental health care to more than 7,500 community youth. Meadowbrook Collaborative, a 15-year-old partnership of the city, school, health care organizations and the YMCA, provides a low-income neighborhood youth programming and family support for 1200 people.

Park Nicollet Health Services is also an important partner in providing health services, through its hospital and clinic headquartered in St. Louis Park and its partnership with the schools in operating Central Clinic, where all services are free of charge. A No Shots, No School initiative by Park Nicollet Foundation guarantees free immunizations to school-age children.

Building Assets-Reducing Risks Program (BARR) is a comprehensive approach that addresses a wide range of concerns for freshmen focusing on reducing academic failure, truancy, disciplinary incidents and alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. All freshmen are in the BARR program because of the at-risk nature of this transition year. The program has been evaluated for 12 years by the Minnesota Institute of Public Health where it has demonstrated powerful results in reducing risk behaviors. When the program began, 44 percent of students were failing one or more class. That number has been cut to 20 percent. Admission Possible provides support to low-income and immigrant students with college potential. AmeriCorps members work with juniors and seniors on ACT prep, college search, and college and financial aid applications. All 29 seniors in this year's Admission Possible program have been accepted into college.