Wicomico County/Salisbury, Maryland

Wicomico County/City of Salisbury, MD is now a four-time winner of 100 Best because the success of its youth is a focus of many programs, agencies and community members. The community seeks innovative solutions to community challenges through collaboration with local government, public agencies, private non-profits, business, faith community, families, youth and volunteers. Wicomico Partnership for Families and Children (WPFC) and Salisbury’s Promise have led the way to mobilize the Five Sectors noted by Search Institute around positive youth development and engagement.

Wicomico County government adopted the Wicomico Partnership for Families & Children Local Management Board in 1998 as a county department to focus on the needs and services for youth and their families. Funding for this office is from state and local government and supports after-school programs, gang intervention and prevention, youth leadership and positive youth development activities. Services are family-focused and developmentally appropriate for age’s birth to 24, with parent involvement intertwined in all programming. In FY2010, there was over $6 million dollars in funding through local government for youth & family services in Wicomico County.

To broaden youth leadership, Salisbury’s Promise, Wicomico Partnership for Families and Children, and Kids of Honor sponsored a three-day Youth Leadership Academy during the summer for the past four years.

Salisbury’s Promise initiated 15 partnerships among schools and faith-based groups totaling to date—at after-school programs and schools. Efforts are focused on mentoring and tutoring for low-income youth. Wicomico Partnership for Families and Children (WPFC) composed of 25 members from child-serving agencies, businesses, and community funds programs serving over 1,000 youth on annual basis in partnership with private, non-profit, faith-based, and public agencies.

The Wicomico County Mentoring Project brings mentors to youth at school, which has shown to increase attendance and reduce office referrals. Kids of Honor also supports mentoring and after-school programs. In fact, 100 percent of the youth that participate in Kids of Honor graduate on time or ahead of their cohorts. Other youth-serving organizations work together and create a strong network of caring adults who reach out to young people at the places they are. They co-sponsor Mentor Links, training opportunities for mentors, and individually receive awards. Maryland Mentoring Partnership has recognized four mentoring organizations: Wicomico Mentoring Project, GEMS, Big Brothers Big Sisters and I.P.P.S. Mentoring Program.

The Wicomico County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism operates the Kids Klub After School program within seven elementary schools serving 10 school populations. Wicomico Partnership for Families and Children also sponsors two after-school programs at local schools at no cost to participants. Wicomico County Board of Education also has 14 STARS after-school programs at county schools. These programs are funded through a 21st Century Grant and local support. Kids of Honor sponsors a free after-school program for high school youth called YEAH, supported by donors. Both the Board of Education and Kids of Honor are Promise Places.