100 Best Communities for Young People Application Drive Seeks Communities with Successful Dropout Prevention and Youth Programs

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America’s Promise Alliance and the ING Foundation National Program Will Recognize 100 Communities that Best Help Youth Stay in School

The 100 Best Communities for Young People celebrates 100 deserving communities that effectively follow the Alliance’s Five Promises: access to caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others.

America’s Promise Alliance and the ING Foundation today announced the call for submissions for this year’s 100 Best Communities for Young People competition. The 100 Best program recognizes communities that are doing outstanding and innovative work to help reduce high school dropout rates and provide their youth with outstanding places to live, learn and grow.

Community representatives are encouraged to begin their applications online and to gather the resources and information needed to complete their submission, which includes two essays by local students. Completed applications are due on or before May 17, 2012, and will be judged by a blue-ribbon panel of national youth development, nonprofit, policy and civic leaders. Applications and additional information can be found at http://www.americaspromise.org/100best.

“To be named one of the 100 Best, communities need to demonstrate their commitment to providing the Five Promises, those essential developmental resources that young people need for success in life including a quality education, access to health care and safe places,” said Alma J. Powell, chair, America’s Promise Alliance. “We are seeking applications from communities of every size because when it comes to helping young people, dedication, innovation and results are what matters most.”

Nationwide, one in four students drops out of high school. In total, more than 1 million young people drop out each year. Among African-American and Hispanic students, the likelihood of graduating is closer to only one in two, with the graduation rate at less than 65 percent. To help decrease these numbers, America’s Promise and ING Foundation, the 100 Best presenting sponsor, will honor communities that are taking action to help students stay in school and graduate on time regardless of the community’s population numbers, location or budget.

“The 100 Best is an opportunity to shine a light on exemplary community-wide efforts to improve the well-being of youth,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING U.S.’s Office of Corporate Responsibility. “The competition is an outstanding way to recognize communities from around the nation that create programs and services that help young people excel in school, which gives them a better chance for future success.”

The 100 Best Communities for Young People celebrates 100 deserving communities that effectively provide their youth with the Five Promises and work to increase graduation rates. The Five Promises: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others, are central to the mission and work of America’s Promise. The 100 Best is one of the signature initiatives of America’s Promise and a part of its Grad Nation campaign, now a large and growing movement of dedicated individuals, organizations and communities working together to end the dropout crisis.

First held in 2005, the 100 Best competition is open to all communities that make children and youth a priority, including small towns, large cities, counties and school districts. In 2011, more than 300 communities from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico were nominated for recognition.

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 Five Promises: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. For more information, visit http://www.americaspromise.org.

About ING
ING U.S. constitutes the U.S.-based insurance, retirement services and investment management operations of ING Groep N.V. In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes retirement plans, life insurance, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves approximately 15 million customers across the nation. For more information, visit http://ing.us.

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 literacy, children’s education, diversity and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit http://www.ing-usafoundation.com or connect with us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/act2impact and Twitter @INGact2impact.

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