The 100 Best Communities for Young People competition identifies cities nationwide that have made the well-being of children and youth a priority. Each year, America's Promise and ING celebrate 100 deserving communities who effectively provide their youth with the Five Promises and work to increase graduation rates.
Bedford, Massachusetts was a winner this year. Here's why:
- Community name: Bedford
- Website: http://www.town.bedford.ma.us/
- Population: 13,986
- Graduation rate: 99.0%
- Youth poverty rate: 2.0%
Bedford, a five-time 100 Best winner, works to ensure youth have access to educational and recreational resources to help them grow to be healthy, caring and economically self-sufficient adults. Its Peer Mentor program pairs high school juniors with incoming freshman to help them make a smooth transition to high school. Bedford's Reading, Independent, Success and Engaged (R.I.S.E.) program uses learning experiences to expose students to a variety of professions they may want to pursue after graduation while the Excel Program encourages youth to register for more challenging academic coursework. In an effort to increase access to information available online, Bedford supplies its ninth graders with iPads in place of textbooks to use until they graduate.
Bedford's focus on its youth also includes activities to keep them engaged and in a safe place. Monthly dances are held for middle school students, and daily recreational after-school activities are offered at its recently opened venue, The Corner.
- The Bedford Education Foundation boosts creativity and innovation in the classroom by funding materials and projects to supplement school budgets.
- The Bedford Community Partnership (BCP) is a coalition of community members who share the desire for all youth to grow up in healthy and nurturing environments.
- The Peer Mentor Program helps ease the transition from middle school to high school by pairing high school mentors with middle school mentees.
- The Reading, Independent, Success and Engaged (R.I.S.E.) program works with students who are struggling academically or behaviorally to identify and experience the realities of the working world in an effort to keep them engaged in their classes until they graduate.
- The Excel Program encourages students to challenge themselves academically by participating in more difficult courses.
"From the great people to extraordinary schools, this small town is outstanding in many different ways. The public school systems, the extracurricular activities, and the commendable citizens are but three aspects of Bedford that really stand out."
"On top of making me a well-rounded person, Bedford's academic excellence is unparalleled. Due to its relatively small student body, it is very difficult for students to fall through the cracks. Everyone at Bedford is looked after academically."