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Lakewood Named One of the Nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance and ING

Competition Recognizes Community’s Efforts to Reduce High School Dropout Rates

October 19, 2011, Lakewood, WA — Lakewood achieved national recognition as one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING for its initiatives to help young people. The competition recognizes communities across the country that focus on reducing high school dropout rates and providing service and support to their youth.

Lakewood is a five-time 100 Best winner, an honor shared by only 22 other cities in the nation. Lakewood has shown a commitment to work across all community sectors to provide a great place for young people to live. The Lakewood Community Collaboration group, comprising more than 200 members from more than 120 organizations, has created mobile food services, a collaborative housing strategy and a community-wide plan for cross-agency work that focuses on the needs of its youth. Together, the Pierce County Mentoring Partnership and the Caring Adult Task Force host a county-wide event that recognizes mentors, mentees and the various mentor programs available through different community organizations.

Beyond community involvement, Lakewood also allows its young leaders to have a voice in community decisions. The Lakewood Youth Council for example, which began as a single student initiative and has grown to as many as 20 members, conducts research and compiles reports that address youth issues and programs. In addition, this organization often represents the city at various events and recruits new student members for community service.

“We are proud of Lakewood for being named one of the America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best,” said Mayor Doug Richardson. “This award recognizes the hard work of many community members that have dedicated their time to making a difference in the lives of our young people.”

“In a nation where 7,000 students drop out of high school every day, we hope Lakewood’s initiatives inspire other communities across the nation to take action to solve the challenges facing their young people,” said Marguerite W. Kondracke, America’s Promise Alliance president and CEO. “Lakewood is especially deserving of this recognition due to their efforts to ensure that their young people graduate high school and go on to lead healthy, productive lives. Lakewood refuses to let the challenges they face determine the future for their young people. Instead, they are helping their youth prosper and become contributing members of society.”

At noon EST on Oct. 12, 2011, Kondracke joined America’s Promise Alliance Chair Alma Powell and ING Foundation President Rhonda Mims at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., to officially announce the 100 winning communities in a live webcast (http://www.americaspromise.org/Our-Work/100-Best-Communities-for-Young-People/Event-Webcast.aspx ).

“The issues surrounding youth education and success are of vital importance to ING,” said Mims. “Our ongoing support for 100 Best underscores our commitment to the cause and the value we place on recognizing communities that produce measurable results for youth.”

Lakewood will receive a $2,500 grant, signage identifying the community as one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People, and access to America’s Promise Alliance’s community development resources.

First held in 2005, the 100 Best competition is one of the Alliance’s signature initiatives and is part of its Grad Nation campaign, which is a 10-year initiative to mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. The 100 Best honors communities large and small, rural and urban, that are making progress to help young people achieve their potential, which includes earning a high school diploma, securing a good job, and playing an active, productive role in America’s economic vitality.

All communities entering the 100 Best competition completed a rigorous application where they provided details on how their existing programs and initiatives help deliver the Five Promises—resources identified by the Alliance as being critical to the development of healthy, successful children: caring adults; safe places; healthy start; effective education; and opportunities to help others. Applicants were also asked to describe how different sectors of their community work together to help children and families overcome challenges. Most importantly, communities were judged on the strength and innovation of their efforts and programs to help young people graduate from high school prepared for college and the 21st century workforce.

This year, more than 300 communities from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were nominated for the 100 Best distinction. Winners were chosen by a distinguished panel of 20 judges that included: Marc Morial, president and CEO, National Urban League, Roxanne Spillett, president and CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Michelle Shearer, Chemistry Teacher, Urbana High School, 2011 National Teacher of the Year.

The winners are a diverse group, ranging from small communities to large cities. A list of all 2011 winners can be found at www.americaspromise.org/100best .

Being a 100 Best community not only demonstrates commitment to local young people; the award fosters local pride, bolsters economic development and shines the spotlight on the people and programs that are building better communities. The competition also facilitates the sharing of best practices among communities nationwide regarding education, access to health care, reading score improvement, youth service and pre-school enrollment, among many other areas.

About America’s Promise Alliance

America’s Promise Alliance is the nation’s largest partnership organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth by raising awareness, supporting communities, and engaging in nonpartisan advocacy. Through our Grad Nation campaign, we harness the collective power of our partner network to mobilize Americans to end the high school dropout crisis and prepare young people for college and the 21st century workforce. Building on the legacy of our Founding Chairman General Colin Powell, the Alliance believes the success of our young people is grounded in the Five Promises—caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. For more information about America’s Promise Alliance, visit www.americaspromise.org .

About ING

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance, and retirement services to over 85 million residential, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of about 115,000 people, ING is dedicated to setting the standard in helping our clients manage their financial future.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workplace diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer. For more information, visit www.ing.com/us .

About the ING Foundation

The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial literacy, children’s education, diversity, and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit www.ing-usafoundation.com .