According to APA's website, the list is comprised of "100 deserving communities who effectively provide their youth with the Five Promises and work to increase graduation rates. Winning communities come from all across the country and are addressing the unique challenges they face."
Applications are submitted by individual communities and then judged by a "blue-ribbon panel of national leaders on youth issues." Each winning community receives a $2,500 grant to be used to "help fund a local program or service, within certain parameters" or "for a local event to celebrate the win."
This year the APA also included communities that focus support on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Offerings include resource centers, safe spaces and activities, counseling and mentoring. Other programming, like anti-bullying initiatives, also helped to address the needs of LGBT youth.
Below find 11 of the Best Communities for LGBT Youth and be sure to head to the APA's website for the full list and to find out how your community can nominate itself for next year's list.
In Cincinnati, <a href="http://www.bridgesfjc.org/programs/justcommunity.html">BRIDGE’s JUST Community Youth Leadership Institute</a> equips youth from more than 15 different schools with awareness, skills, resources and networks to make their schools more welcoming and inclusive places.
Hamden’s <a href="http://www.hamden.com/content/43/85/163/1299/default.aspx">Youth Services Bureau</a> seeks to improve the quality of life for young people and families in Hamden and provides a guide that outlines LGBT-specific resources for youth such as PFLAG and AIDS Project New Haven (APNH) in nearby New Haven, Conn.
Indiana County, Penn.
The county's local university, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, created the <a href="http://www.iup.edu/safezone/default.aspx">Safe Zone program</a> for LGBT students and employees. Safe Zone is designed to improve visibility and support for young LGBT people, including sensitivity training for staff.
Lakewood partners with the <a href="http://www.oasisyouthcenter.org/">Pierce County AIDS Oasis Youth Center </a>for LGBT youth. The Oasis supports LGBT youth ages 14 to 24 with more than 21 hours per week of drop-in time with trained staff and volunteers, a 24-hour crisis hotline, crisis intervention, counseling and safety planning.
New York City, NY
The New York City Commission for LGBTQ Runaway and Homeless Youth -- the first of its kind in the nation -- devises strategies to address the unique needs of LGBTQ youth and implement runaway prevention. Additionally, the commission provides homeless LGBTQ youth with shelter and support to achieve independence or reunions with their families.
More than one-fifth of Pinedale students reported being bullied at some point in their life, including for the perception of being gay. Pinedale’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) caters to the needs of LGBT youth by providing a strong support system while the school district incorporates the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program into the curriculum.
Portland-Multnomah County, Ore.
Portland and greater Multnomah County, Ore. provide a community of support and acceptance for LGBT young people through the <a href="http://www.smyrc.org/">Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center</a>. The Center is a safe, supervised and harassment-free space for LGBT youth to access resources and assistance. Gay Straight Alliances in high schools also provide a supportive environment for area students.
Sarasota County, Fla.
<a href="http://www.alsoyouth.org/">ALSO Out Youth</a> in Sarasota County, Fla. provides services to ensure that LGBT youth have access to safe places and mentoring support from adults to enhance their safety and self-esteem.
Anti-bullying initiatives are often inclusive to LGBT youth’s specific concerns. Alameda has a bullying prevention initiative that includes community workshops, school assemblies, films, a speech contest and other activities to teach youth how to combat bullying. In the last year, 6,000 young people participated and learned about acceptance and respect.
Orange County, NY
To help curb bullying in schools, seven school districts in Orange County implemented <a href="http://www.orangecountygov.com/content/124/1386/5075/1550/default.aspx">the Safe School Ambassadors program</a>, which trains and empowers youth to identify and remove conflict in their schools. In addition, youth, families, government officials and other community members created the Anti-Bully & Prevention Task Force in response to a surge in youth suicide attempts.
Prince William County, Va.
Prince William County focuses on approaches to prevent incidents of physical and cyber-bullying. The county uses the national Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. The program focuses on addressing the issue from multiple angles including the school, classroom, individuals and the community.