2023 All-America City Finalist –Wellington, FL

Wellington has grown from what was once a sleepy bedroom community to a thriving suburban municipality today. With state-of-the-art facilities, engaged residents, strong partnerships with district schools and local businesses, safe neighborhoods, beautiful parks, and unparalleled programming and events, the Village of Wellington truly is a Great Hometown.  

Since its incorporation in 1995, Wellington’s culture of engagement within its community has remained a priority and Wellington continues to come up with innovative ways to connect with its diverse population.    


Wellington students from low to moderate income households were struggling academically and falling behind in their studies throughout the school year and over summer breaks. Many of these students come from non-English speaking households, making academic success more difficult. Through its positive ongoing relationship with local schools, Wellington partnered with the school administration and was able to identify students in need of academic assistance and launched a free tutorial service called HYPE.  

HYPE is a partnership with the local schools, the Palm Beach County Board of Education, and the Boys and Girls Club, with funding provided by grants. Throughout the school year and summer, the HYPE program academically assists up to 80 low-income students per week.    

The HYPE program provided reading and math tutoring to kindergarten through fourth grade students. Academic improvements were measured using pre and post assessments, with reading scores improving by 43% and math scores improving by 83%. 

Tom Atkins Civics 101 

Youth are important to the future of our planet, our country, and our community.  Educating our youth on the importance of civic engagement is key if they are to know the impact they can have on the future of their communities.  When young people learn about their municipal government and get up close and personal with local decision makers, they are more likely to become an engaged community member.   

Wellington’s Tom Atkins Civics 101 is a civic engagement program for the Village of Wellington’s middle and high school students that provides an opportunity for them to meet their elected officials and learn more about the policy-making processes and operations of municipal government. The Tom Atkins Civics 101 program is named after the Palm Beach Central High School teacher who played a pivotal role in the creation of the program in partnership with the Village of Wellington. 

Since its inception in 2010, over 1,400 students have completed the Tom Atkins Civics 101 program.  The Civics program, offered to middle and high school students, is broken down into four sessions.   

  1. Project Selection 
  2. Question and Answer with Elected Officials 
  3. Departmental Breakdown with Village of Wellington Staff 
  4. Mock Council Meeting 

The program is designed to align with the lifecycle for the Village’s municipal projects, as they are presented to the Village Council.  Students are divided into several groups and assigned projects to present to a mock Village Council.  A mock council meeting is then held where each group must present their project for “Council approval.”  Students engage as elected officials, municipal staff, and residents.   

Participation in the Tom Atkins Civics 101 program during the past 5 years has increased over 40% and volunteerism has increased by 300%.   


The Village of Wellington created Students Working to Achieve Greatness (SWAG) in 2017 to address the needs of underserved high school students in Wellington. The program was designed to support rising juniors and seniors academically, as well as provide exposure to employment and social opportunities through thoughtful mentorship and internships with community partners.  As part of the SWAG program, the village partners with the Crowned Pearls of Wellington as the program’s sponsor.  The Crowned Pearls of Wellington is an official graduate chapter of the international Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. organization, the nation’s oldest sorority for African American women.    

One of the primary goals of the SWAG program is to assist rising juniors and seniors in their pursuit of higher education. The SWAG program aims to support students in their career objectives, as well as expose them to employment opportunities and cultural experiences to broaden their shared experiences. As program sponsors, the Crowned Pearls of Wellington also act as mentors for the students, create a curriculum in life skills such as in financial management and professional and workforce skills development, and provide academic, intellectual, and community support.  Cultural outings and a paid summer internship are also key components of the program.  

 The SWAG program is primarily broken out into three elements:  1) Tutoring; 2) Internships; and 3) Mentoring, with key objectives culminating in the following: 

  • Demonstrated gains in academic achievement 
  • Acquisition of leadership skills 
  • Increased confidence  
  • Increased school attendance and graduation rate 
  • Preparation for advanced education  
  • Increased student community and civic responsibility 

Since the SWAG program began in 2017, 250 students have completed the program and 71 students have received internships.  One hundred percent of SWAG participants graduated from high school after completing the program and 80% of participants have gone on to attend a 4-year university upon graduation from high school.  

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