With American cities struggling in the face of violent crime, drug activity and financial hardship, it’s not always easy to maintain an optimistic view of the future. Rebuilding strong, vibrant communities starts at the ground level, with strong efforts to protect the children who will become future community leaders. These community initiatives and others like them can be found in cities across the United States. They affect positive change in neighborhoods all over the country. The problem is that they may be under-utilized, often due to low community awareness. Funding for non-profit initiatives can also be hard to come by, as residents choose to instead invest in the private sector. Finding or starting programs that target the youngest and most vulnerable members of the population is an investment in the future of your community.
Facilitating Strong Family Bonds
Strong kids start with strong families. In today’s busy world, there never seems to be enough time to spend fostering strong bonds with kids. Thankfully, there is an emerging trend supporting community efforts to bolster familial support systems. Helping parents and kids learn to communicate more effectively is one area in which these programs can make a real difference. Learning to speak your kids’ language isn’t always easy, especially during the difficult adolescent years. With the help of counselors and outreach programs, however, you can put an end to problems within the familial unit. These programs can be particularly effective when it comes to single-parent households.
Boosting Academic Power
In order for a child to bring his expertise back to his community as an adult, he needs to first learn viable and marketable skills. Investing in commerce provides a great short-term resource for communities, but investing in the kids who will spur the economy of the future is an even better option. Supporting locally-based programs that help kids excel in school gives them the boost they need to succeed as adults. Remember that the at-risk youth of today hold the potential to be the business leaders of the next decades. With the right guidance and plenty of academic support, these kids can achieve greatness. When at-risk kids are left to founder in the public system without support, their future may be decidedly bleaker. Programs that offer after-school tutoring, bolster literacy skills and emphasize the importance of a great education can make all the difference to a struggling child. Preparation programs that give preschoolers a head start on their academic careers can also be a strong source of long-term community growth and prosperity.
Meeting Vital Low-Income Needs
A child that’s hungry or whose basic needs are not being met simply does not have the tools she needs to succeed. Outreach programs and community initiatives that offer a much-needed helping hand to kids in poverty are among the most important in any neighborhood. Children’s museums in cities like Indianapolis have had great success with low-income internship programs that help poverty-stricken kids explore the arts and sciences. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s programs help kids in low-income areas across the nation gain access to early education programs and meal subsidies. Kids who participate are able to get a head start in school, while their parents gain affordable, dependable childcare that allows them to pursue employment. When these families are able to rest assured that their basic needs are met, kids can flourish and prosper. Bringing that prosperity back to the community helps to strengthen the city and everyone involved benefits greatly.
Instilling Community Pride
Caring kids with a sense of civic responsibility and community pride are the backbone of any neighborhood. Organizations that support these values help those kids become the adult force behind the community in later years. Programs like the Connecting With Kids initiative in Edina, Minnesota stand as a testament to the power of the model. Connecting With Kids was established in 1998 with the aim of investing in their children for a better future. For three consecutive years, the city has been named one of the America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People. The strong network of partnerships, including the Connecting with Kids program, a solid public school system and the Edina Community foundation earned their spot on this prestigious list. By investing in their children, the people of Edina have been able to attract robust commerce, build a solid infrastructure and encourage community growth. Adults looking for a way to affect positive change in their own communities can rest assured that an investment in initiatives that target kids is a sound one, indeed.