PROSSER -- A new aquatic center. After-school programs. Student participation in school board meetings. And a Boys & Girls Club that hosts 84 kids per day.
The wide spectrum of resources and programs to make this city kid friendly was recognized last week when Prosser was named one of the nation's 100 Best Communities for Young People by the America's Promise Alliance.
"My biggest challenge on this application was to fit everything in," Lisa Schmitt, the Prosser mother who nominated the city, told a crowd of city and school officials, youth advocates and about 680 pre-teens watching the news on an Internet broadcast inside the Housel Middle School gymnasium.
"So amazing. I'm not surprised. We won," Principal Deanna Flores said to a round of cheers.
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America's Promise Alliance is a national youth organization founded by Gen. Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State. His wife, Alma Powell, is the current chairwoman.
The city was singled out for its variety of youth resources, including the Prosser Boys & Girls Club, an after school and summer youth center in E.J. Miller Park that supervises games, tutoring and enrichment. The program, which started in August 2010, has 350 members, including 225 on the waiting list because of limited space. It's paid for through a combination of city money, private donations and grants.
Not all clubs in the national organization have it so well, said executive director Ron McHenry. He just visited Las Vegas, where clubs are closing due to budget cuts of 40 percent.
Other things that attracted the attention of America's Promise are a variety of after-school programs, a new aquatic center, a tough stance on bullying by school officials and a move by the Prosser School Board to appoint two student advisers who participate in meetings.
The organization also lauded the community for its graduation rate. In 2010, the district graduated nearly 75 percent of its seniors on time.
Prosser will receive from America's Promise street signs pointing out the award and $2,500 toward either a celebration or more youth activities. The notoriety also might help the city attract grants for other projects.
More than 300 communities applied, and other winners in the state were Bellevue, Greater Spokane and Lakewood.
In 2007 and 2008, nine communities in the Lower Yakima Valley collectively received the honor.
Prosser will hold a community celebration Nov. 27, the same night as the chamber of commerce's annual Christmas party.