College scholarships and apprenticeships. Jobs for teens in trouble with the law. Book clubs for kids and free trips to the museum.
Such youth programs are typically not top priorities for municipal leaders in cash-strapped cities that are increasingly being forced to cut back on core services such as police and fire.
But they could gain greater prominence in the minds of city leaders if youth workers seek to follow the examples this new report highlights as some of the most innovative city-sponsored youth development programs in the nation.
For youth program leaders, the report serves up a cache of ideas on what several dozen U.S. cities — from San Francisco to Miami — are doing to increase the quality of life by means of youth development programs and strategies in areas that range from early childhood to college and job training. The report also calls attention to the role that city leaders can play in garnering support, financial or otherwise, for such programs.
“You can have all the good models in the world,” says Clifford Johnson, executive director of NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families, “but if you don’t have a leader with effective commitment to act on behalf of children and families, it’s not likely to happen or, if it does, it’s not likely to be sustained over time.”