Youth Well-Being is Central for Sacramento

Not every city has a charity walk for literacy, but then, not every city is an All-America City. Sacramento was one of ten cities honored this summer as an All-America City. And, yes, the city has an upcoming Walk4Literacy, together with a culture of youth engagement that has attracted the support of a new assistance effort from the National League of Cities.

The Walk4Literacy is one of many efforts by the Sacramento Literacy Foundation to boost awareness of the deepening literacy crisis among kids in the city and much of the nation. Another effort is the city’s Promise Zone, which was the highlight of the city’s application for this year’s All-America City award. As one of the hundreds of cities working with the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Sacramento has focused much of its attention on assisting youths in public housing and has served more than 14,000 kids in all through partnerships with the library and other organizations.

The city also began a new effort to serve young people at the other end of the spectrum—teenagers, mostly—through a project sponsored by the National League of Cities called Youth Excel. This program will help youths with access to quality postsecondary education and career pathway opportunities that lead to higher wage jobs.

Announced in February, the NLC Youth Excel City Technical Assistance Cohort includes the following six cities:

  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Houston, TX
  • Lauderhill, FL
  • Madison, WI
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Saint Paul, MN

Each city will form a cross-sector team which will be led by city leaders and will have the opportunity to connect with city cohort peers to share and refine promising approaches to overcoming barriers to accessing quality jobs in STEM fields.

Sacramento also has a coalition of 36 youth-serving organizations called Sac Kids First that is advocating for the city’s kids, including by securing approval by the City Council for a measure on this November’s ballot to set aside part of the city’s cannabis revenues for kids programs. Youth Forward, the coordinating entity for Sac Kids First, is also working at the state level to generate revenue for kids’ programs.

Literacy and other efforts to improve well-being are a way of life for city leaders in Sacramento. As Mayor Darrell Steinberg said at the presentation in City Hall of the All-America City award, “We haven’t solved this problem, but at least we’re making progress.”

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