If youre under 18 and living in Alexandria, life is good, according to Americas Promise Alliance, which just ranked the city as one of 100 Best Communities for Young People.
The citys proclivity to spend money programs aimed at mitigating teen pregnancy, substance abuse, gang violence and dropout rates earned the distinction, according to APA.
Were taking a different approach to youth, and that approach is holistic, Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) said Tuesday at a reception on the National Mall where he accepted the distinction. Its not just about promoting health care or just about promoting education; its about promoting common sense so you can eventually go to college and take care of your family.
The city government allocated 36 percent of this years budget to youth initiatives, including the public school budget the general funds largest allocation.
Programs like the Alexandria Youth Council and the Alexandria Mentoring Partnership also played a role in the distinction, according to APA.
T.C. Williams High Schools dropout rate has decreased slightly each year since 2006, with 68 more students graduating in 2009 than in 2008, according to the state education department.
Were a great community to live in, said T.C. Williams student Grand Roberson. Why wouldnt you want to live here? Roberson and her peers from T.C.s student leadership class attended the reception in Washington.
Were a diverse community and we speak up to get what we want, said T.C student Kalie Benjamin.
But while Alexandria is monetarily dedicated to improving the lives of youth, the results of programs like the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy still have a long way to go. Since its inception in 1996 teen pregnancy has dropped 31 percent, according to a presentation to City Council given in May. But the citys 43 teen pregnancies for 1,000 females aged 10 to 19 are the highest in Northern Virginia.
Still, the citys development of a youth master plan, which Moran says incorporates a comprehensive, multi-pronged strategy to attack problems affecting Alexandrias young people, is reason for the citys place on the top-100 list.