Public officials Tuesday lauded the more than 100 youth-oriented programs in the city of Burbank, crediting them for a recent national distinction earned by the city.
The fete, which took place at John Burroughs High School, was the first of two events scheduled this week to celebrate the city being named in 2010 as one of the 100 best communities for young people. The second will take place at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Buena Vista Library, and is free to the public.
The award came from America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit founded in 1997 by then-Gen. Colin Powell that unites public and private stakeholders to improve children's lives.
The honor was the product of a collaborative effort that included private businesses, community-based organizations, city departments and the Burbank Unified School District, said Gaby Flores, deputy director for Park, Recreation and Community Services Department, who helped spearhead the Burbank application.
"We know we are doing the right thing for the community," Flores said. "We are meeting the needs of our youth, and we are being very creative to address those needs. But it also serves as an example to the rest of the community that this is what you can do if you collaborate, if you partner across all sectors."
Burbank also made the list in 2008. The focus of the 2010 award was how the community strives to promote the success of young people beyond high school graduation, Flores said.
Burbank was recognized for its commitment to fund youth programs, the Burbank Youth Task Force, and its collaborations with Warner Bros. Studios and the Cartoon Network that expose youth to career opportunities in the entertainment field, among other things.
"It is nothing we did this year or last year, or in this last decade," said City Manager Michael Flad. "It is stuff that has been done for 50, 60 years …When you go around California, rarely do you find a community that is more committed to the youth than Burbank is."
Programs such as continuing education at Monterey High School, the Burbank Adult School and Magnolia Park School, as well as parent-teacher associations and booster club groups, produce tangible results in the lives of young people, said Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa.
He cited the district's low dropout rates as an example. The one-year dropout rate for high school seniors is 1.9% at Burbank High School, and 1.2% at John Burroughs High School, Carrizosa said.
The four-year cumulative dropout rate is 7.8% at Burbank High and 4.7% at John Burroughs.
"Both remarkable figures when you consider that the countywide four-year average drop rate is 24%," Carrizosa said. "So we do it way better than those around us, and we feel really good about that."
Burroughs senior and student government leader Taylor Van Den Berg, 17, said Burbank has a safe and familial feel.
"You are able to feel at home pretty much wherever you are," Taylor said. "I know that is a big thing we stress at school, that we are one giant family."