2023 All-America City – Hampton, VA

The City of Hampton doesn’t have a “city” plan; it has a community plan developed by 1,500 to 3,000 residents, business owners, property owners, educational institutions, and a variety of non-profits and associations over a two-year period. The plan guides the future of land use, city governance, the school system, and the community.  

Civic engagement in Hampton doesn’t stop with the community plan, participation avenues range from online surveys, social media outreach, community discussions, steering groups, and boards and commissions. Residents have a real voice in policy and directly participate in the design and implementation of community programs.  

Transformative Education Programs  

One key area of focus in the Community Plan was to create a system to “promote career exposure and the development of life skills.” This initial focus morphed into One Division, One Transformation, Hampton’s K-12 education reform. A community-driven process addressed one profound question:What should young people know, do, and understand to be successful after high school?” The collaborative leadership of the school system, city, industry leaders, business partners, postsecondary academia, teachers, parents, and students created the vision: All students will graduate equipped with tools, attitude, and drive to successfully navigate postsecondary pursuits, whether it is college, careers, or the military. 

To give every student the academic, technical, and employability skills and knowledge for success, hundreds of community stakeholders translated the vision into reality. Through shared decision-making and action planning, stakeholders redesigned teaching and learning through integration of rigorous academic content, learning experiences, and enrichments that cultivate essential skills, mindsets, and knowledge needed to become lifelong, self-directed learners with the skills and resilience to be successful. The community set goals, outcomes, and curriculum expectations; established and designed college and work-based learning (WBL) experiences; and transformed traditional classrooms into 21st-century learning environments that allow students to apply their learning and inspire them to achieve greatness. Stakeholders continue to plan and execute the tactics to accomplish the vision. 

A cross-sector collaboration connects what students learn in school with their career goals. A large network of employers and industry leaders support a system of workforce development strategies that provide equitable opportunity and access to career development experiences while also building the talent pipeline that meets industry’s current and emerging workforce needs.  

Hampton Police Division Community Relations  

Community relationships are vital to maintaining public safety, yet across the nation the gulf between public safety agencies and those they protect is growing. The Hampton Police Department (HPD) worked with diverse partners to create several initiatives to open communication and understanding with members of the community, especially those who live in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by gun violence.   

Among them:   

  • Coffee with a Cop- brings uniformed officers into conversation with residents at a variety of restaurants. 
  • National Faith and Blue Weekend- a Vigil of Understanding. 
  • Kickin’ It in the Community- Officers vs. Boys and Girls Club members participate in a kickball tournament. 
  • Eagles vs. Everybody: Headtapping Violence- an initiative soliciting volunteers and city resources to respond to the most vulnerable communities.  
  • Junior Commonwealth’s Attorneys- a week-long summer program that takes a diverse group of students through all the steps in the justice system. 
  • Camp Fury- a camp teaching girls about the fire service and other male-dominated fields. 

School Resource Officers (SROs) in Hampton focus on partnerships through increased communication and cooperation with the faculty and staff, students, and parents. They provide classroom instruction on topics such as being a good citizen, personal safety, bullying, and gangs. These state-specific curricula taught at the middle and high school levels help educate students on Virginia laws and help students develop skills needed to make sound decisions and to become active citizens in their schools and communities. SROs serve as mentors and resources to students before and after school, building lasting relationships that have carried on past graduation. 

Collaborative Programs for Young People 

 The Office of Youth and Young Adult Opportunities ensures that Hampton creates better outcomes for its younger residents. Staff strive to provide meaningful alternatives to violence, drugs, and gang participation while addressing unresolved trauma and supporting returning citizens.   

One of the first programs of the office was the Summer Youth Employment Program. The program offers job opportunities within city and school departments, local businesses, and non-profit organizations to youth and young adults in Hampton ages 16-24. The 10-week program provides summer work experiences, cultivating professional and personal career aspirations.  

Hampton’s philosophy is that the government does not need to run all the programs and provides grants to grassroots, community-based organizations and neighborhood groups supporting youth.   

A sampling of awarded grants include: 

  • A dance school that uses drumming to enhance social-emotional learning.  
  • A team provides “been-there” discussions led by people who have been imprisoned with young people already in the juvenile justice system. Conversations teach cognitive behavioral therapeutic conflict resolution. 
  • A health and wellness intervention program that uses yoga, group clinical therapy, fitness, and mindfulness training for teen girls. 
  • An organization that supports LBGTQ adults, especially those who are gender transitioning. 
  • A nationally recognized drill team that uses physical training, individualized and group instruction, behavior instruction, and academic and leadership training to support young people. 
  • An agency that supports incarcerated adults will expand their services to young people who are under court supervision, have active court cases, or are having challenges acclimating back into society after incarceration. 
  • An organization that fosters positive youth development and awareness of substance misuse and mental health will create a summer volunteer program. 

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