Tacoma, Washington

A first-time winner of 100 Best, the City of Tacoma collaborated with Tacoma Public Schools and the Metropolitan Park District to focus on increasing the community’s graduation rates. The city dedicated $.8 million toward youth violence reduction and dropout prevention. The district developed two specialty high schools - School of the Arts and Science and Math Institute, student retention programming at Lincoln High School, year--round programs in science and nature, after- school enrichment, and special programming for homeschooled students. There are community-wide efforts that result in a Cradle to Career response to improving graduation rates, including Resources for Education and Career Help (REACH), a collaborative providing culturally relevant services directed to youth career and workforce development and College Bound in partnership with College Success Foundation.

The Oasis Youth Center enhances and sustains the health and well-being of GLBTQ.  A program of the Pierce County AIDS Foundation, Oasis has broad support throughout the community and is funded by the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department, United Way of Pierce County, Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, the Pride Foundation and the Washington State Department of Commerce. Oasis is the only drop-in and support center dedicated to the needs of GLBT youth ages 14-24.

City of Tacoma, Tacoma School District, Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department, Juvenile Court and Tacoma Urban League jointly fund and work together to address youth violence and gang prevention. This program utilizes Functional Family Therapy and Aggression Replacement Training to ensure that students resist gang involvement, reduce truancy and dropout rates, and help youth be successful in school and their communities. The Alliance for Youth of Pierce County is a network of youth-serving agencies schools, faith- based organizations, government, libraries and multiple nonprofits. The Alliance has over 50 members and offers opportunities for cross communication, collaboration and trainings/workshops open to concerned community members.

The Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department has a long history of partnering with many agencies to ensure that the youth in its programs have the support they need to succeed. The success can be measured by 95 percent of youth getting medical care. Partnering with Schools through school nurses, TPCHD provides for coordinated school health: injury prevention, diet and nutrition and access to care. The Dental Health Program educates residents about oral health. The Program also sponsors the Pierce County Oral Health Coalition to ensure that the dental health issues of all Tacoma and Pierce County residents are represented.

Youth United helps youth become aware of their personal responsibilities in the community and encourages them to take part in creating change for the better. Youth United reaches approximately 4,100 students each year educating youth about volunteerism and providing opportunities for them to have an impact in their communities. In a one of a kind program initiated by United Way, Varsity Letter in Community Service has 330 students receiving a varsity letter like those given to athletes and musicians for volunteering a minimum of 145 hours.