Salt Lake City and Salt Lake City School District announced Wednesday they will join forces to launch an initiative aimed at bringing greater community involvement in helping children succeed both in and out of school.

YouthCity, Salt Lake's after-school program, targets school-age children with innovative activities designed to increase self-esteem, teach job and life skills, and augment and encourage education.

That program, linked with Salt Lake City School District, will work cooperatively under the Community of Caring initiative. The initiative will follow a national model in promoting its five core values: caring, respect, responsibility, trust and family.

The first effort under the initiative will be a senior citizen after-school mentoring program at Glendale Middle School. Students will help area seniors learn basic computer and Internet skills while the seniors will help the students with homework and life skills — all the while building personal relationships

"This combines two of the most powerful strategies: mentoring and intergenerationalized education," said Mayor Rocky Anderson.

GE Corporate Payment Services is also chipping in. They have agreed to work with Glendale Middle School to create a book club that brings GE employees in to read with children.

"The Community of Caring program is about bringing our entire community together to support our young people, helping them learn valuable life lessons," said McKell Withers, district superintendent.

The initiative itself is a comprehensive, research-based character education program that has been adopted by almost 1,000 schools in the United States and Canada.

"Community of Caring recognizes that educating our young people in values and character is central to our success as schools, families and community," said Anderson. "This sets a stage for the city and the school district to bring the core values into future partnerships." Withers said that with a cooperative effort, the sky is the limit for the program. He expects work with the city on more projects in the near future.

"Now that we can say 'Community of Caring is our common language.' As we seek grants to support kids academically — and the city seeks grants to help kids economically and socially — we can do that cooperatively so we help all kids in as many ways as possible."


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