Mayor H. Brent Coles

Boise's Promise The Alliance for Youth

Returning to Boise following the Presidents. Summit for America. s Future, the City. s delegation responded to General Colin Powell. s call to action by creating Boise. s Promise . The Alliance for Youth, an effort to organize the entire community to bring children into contact with the five fundamental resources identified at the Summit. While Boise. s public and nonprofit sectors had been mobilized to serve youth for some time, the delegation knew that, given the right leadership, more could be accomplished.

Boise Mayor Brent Coles agreed to be the primary sponsor of Boise. s Promise and to develop new plans and innovative pledges of support to reach additional children, especially those who are considered at risk. The Boise delegation determined at the outset that the existing community-wide Enough is Enough drug prevention campaign . providing children with safe places and structured, drug-free activities . should be incorporated into Boise. s Promise.

Pledge Book Committees

The Mayor. s first objective was to assist the delegation in developing a "pledge book" listing the actions and activities that individuals, government, nonprofit organizations, religious institutions and businesses would take to provide the five fundamental resources to thousands of additional children in Boise. Specifically, in each of the five basic resource areas, Boise. s Promise will reach an additional 2,000 children by the year 2000.

To develop the pledge book . the goal was to secure all the pledges needed by September 1997 . and in an attempt to get the entire community involved, two committees were formed:

  • The Community Committee included former members of the 1994 Mayor. s Task Force on Youth and others having interest and expertise in one or more of the five goal areas. Under the direction of the members of the delegation, it focused on obtaining pledges from individuals, government, nonprofit organizations and religious institutions. Meeting mid-June, the committee broke into subcommittees representing the five resource areas, with two members of the Summit delegation chairing each of the subcommittees. Members of each subcommittee were asked to contact individuals and organizations which might logically be interested in making a pledge to expand their programs or increase their support for youth. An intern in the Mayor. s Office assisted in
    contacting many of these organizations through the summer months.
  • The Business Committee, working under the direction of the Mayor, was chaired by a well-known local business leader. Its mission was to secure pledges from local businesses, large and small. It began by organizing a "leadership breakfast" in which CEOs and other top business leaders met with the Boise delegation to hear about the Presidents. Summit and about General Powell. s three-year commitment to lead the nationwide effort. The participants in the breakfast asked questions, provided useful advice and, most importantly, signed on to Boise. s Promise, agreeing to be an integral part of the effort to give all children access to the resources they need. This committee worked through the summer of 1997, and final pledges were received in September.

Through the efforts of the two committees, more than 180 organizations made pledges to help children and youth. These pledges were summarized in the Mayor. s State of the City address on September 16, and were submitted to the community in book form during the Celebration of Boise. s Promise held on September 26.

Once the Boise. s Promise Pledge Book was published and the Community Celebration completed, the members of the Boise delegation were released from their duties until the year 2000, when national and local follow-up reports will be presented. Until that time, a Boise organization, Community Youth Connection, is handling the follow-up and tracking of all pledges.

Organizational Commitments

Boise. s Promise, officials report, has resulted in a concerted, community-wide effort to provide more resources for children. Among the elements of that effort:

  • The Robert L. Montgomery Girl Scout Center . a facility that was built as part of the Silver Sage Girl Scout Council. s pledge to Boise. s Promise . was recently dedicated. The Girl Scout volunteers who worked on the Center, officials say, could have complained about the failure of government, churches or other organizations to provide enough places for kids to go. Instead, they committed themselves, their time and talents to a solution: a Center that will serve as a lifeline for many children in the years ahead.
  • The Boise Noon Optimists have been searching for a home for their youth football program for 48 years. In 1998, in the spirit of Boise. s Promise, the City was able to set aside a piece of property that it had acquired and allow the Optimists to raise money to build nine playing fields . for football in the fall and soccer in the spring. The Optimists plan to raise $1.3 million and provide thousands of hours of volunteer labor to have the fields ready by the fall of 1999. A private, nonprofit organization, the Optimists will manage construction of the park to City specifications. The Dairymen. s Association has contributed $100,000 for the project, and the J. A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation also has made a donation.
  • Dozens of other organizations, from Big Brothers-Big Sisters to the YMCA, are following through on their pledges to do more for more young people. Businesses have stepped up to provide more mentors and job training for youth, and the medical community is working to give kids a healthy start.

"Our children should have the best of everything that we can give them," says Mayor Coles. "Through Boise. s Promise and America. s Promise, we intend to make certain that every child has what he or she needs to thrive. Too many children are struggling with those things that steal from them their youth and, perhaps, their lives: teen suicide, drugs, pregnancy, abuse, apathy. These children are our future and we cannot afford to fail them."

Contact: Gary Lyman, Office of the Mayor, (208) 384-4422