News Details

Solano County named one of 100 Best Communities for Young People

Unprecedented 6th win as Solano County achieves national recognition for commitments to youth education and well-being

September 12, 2012

Solano County has achieved what no other community in California can claim - for the sixth time this community is being recognized as one of America's Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING for its ongoing activities to help children and youth.

"Being named one of the 100 Best is significant and meaningful to the entire Solano County community," said Supervisor Linda Seifert, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.  “To receive this honor for the sixth time is a proud tribute to the dedicated people and outstanding programs we have across this county and to our unwavering commitment to the belief that a focus on youth pays dividends for the entire community.”

The Solano County Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) was the lead agency for Solano’s 2012 nomination, which compiled youth program data and testimonials across the county from community-based organizations and local government and education agencies.  DCSS Director Pamela Posehn commented, “The whole objective of our organization is to help families support their children. The 100 Best honor reminds us that support comes in all shapes and sizes, and we share that common goal.”

As in previous years, America’s Promise noted Solano’s strong collaboratives and innovative programs.  Some of the programs highlighted in Solano County’s 100 Best application included:

  • The Safe Routes to School Program encourages students to walk and bike to school in groups supervised by parent volunteers.  This initiative aims to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution while promoting a healthy lifestyle for youth.
  • Benicia Rotary brings together local artists, businesspeople and Liberty High School students to produce "Expanding Experiences," an open studio event in its seventh year, held at Arts Benicia and sponsored by Valero Refinery, Allied Waste and Raley's Foods. Rotarians also match students with inspiring community leader volunteers to work with them on career paths, job-shadowing programs, and transporting students to extracurricular events.
  • Youth Initiating Professional Preparedness in Employment (YIPPIE) Foundation offers teens in Solano County receive job training and internship placement help and provides Solano County homeless, foster care and poverty-level youth, ages 16 to 24, with job readiness, vocational mentoring, life skills and confidence.
  • The Inventor’s Lab at the South Vallejo Community Center (University of California’s Lawrence Hall of Science) expands the circle of student support and invigorates youth to explore the sciences.  The labor features interactive stations where the students do hands-on activities and exhibits.
  • The BabyFirst Solano and the Partnership for Early Access for Kids (PEAK) initiatives, funded by First 5 Solano and Solano County Health & Social services, feature a team of agencies offering free or low-cost prenatal care, early childhood developmental screenings and linking infants and children with special needs to services as early as possible.
“Solano’s parents, service providers and educators are doing a great deal of good for our children and youth despite the tough economy and the many challenges we grapple with each day,” said Josephine Wilson, Interim Executive Director of the Fighting Back Partnership in Vallejo.  A $2,500 grant that came with the 2011 100 Best award went toward their mentoring program to help at-risk youth succeed in school. This partnership with Vallejo City Unified School District included a recent field trip to the University of California, Davis for twelve 7th-grade girls. 

“We are committed to improve outcomes for our children and community, in spite of the difficult circumstances in which we find ourselves.  It’s the community spirit and vitality of our residents that keeps us moving forward,” Wilson said.

At noon EST on Sept. 12, 2012, America’s Promise Alliance President and CEO John Gomperts will join Chair Alma Powell and ING Foundation President Rhonda Mims at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to officially announce the 100 winning communities in a live webcast at

“As young people across the country go back to school, it is especially timely to recognize communities like Solano County that have come together to make supporting young people a top priority and that are committed to helping young Americans reach their full potential,” said Gomperts.  “The 100 Best winners are doing outstanding work delivering the Five Promises that create the conditions for all young people to have the best chance for success.  We hope the example set by these communities provides inspiration for others to take action.”

Solano County will receive a $2,500 grant, signage identifying the community as one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People, and access to America’s Promise Alliance’s community development resources. 

The 100 Best competition is part of the Grad Nation campaign, a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis. The goal of Grad Nation is to raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.

All communities entering the 100 Best competition completed a rigorous application where they provided details on how their existing programs and initiatives help deliver the Five Promises—resources identified by America’s Promise as being critical to the development of healthy, successful children: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; effective education; and opportunities to help others. Applicants also were asked to describe how different sectors of their community work together to help children and families overcome challenges. Most importantly, communities were judged on the strength and innovation of their efforts and programs to help young people graduate from high school prepared for college and the 21st century workforce. 

In its sixth year, the competition experienced its greatest interest to date with nominations from more than 320 communities representing all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Winners were chosen by a distinguished panel of judges that included 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, 2012 National Superintendent of the Year Heath Morrison, National Urban League President Marc Morial, and GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.

Two youth representatives also were named as selection panelists. These include Austin Bargmann, 15, from Brighton, Colo., a two-time 100 Best winner, and Ashley Levanduski, 17, from Paso Robles, Calif., who serves as a volunteer coach with an America's Promise partner organization, The First Tee, an international youth organization that introduces golf and its inherent values to young people.

A list of all 2012 winners can be found at The webcast can be viewed at

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth. We bring together more than 400 national organizations representing nonprofit groups, businesses, communities, educators and policymakers. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, America’s Promise believes the success of young people is grounded in the Five Promises—Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start, Effective Education, and Opportunities to Help Others. For more information, visit .
About ING U.S.

ING U.S. constitutes the U.S.-based retirement, investment management and insurance operations of Dutch-based ING Groep N.V. (NYSE: ING). In the U.S., the ING family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING U.S. holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 13 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the Foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial education, children’s education and physical education. For more information, visit or connect with us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@INGact2impact).