Have you heard the news, Wichitans? The National Civic League (NCL) has affirmed what we have known for quite some time – Wichita is an All-America City.
Last weekend, Wichita was named an All-America City following an intense competition process in Denver, CO that culminated with a 10-minute presentation and a 10-minute question and answer period before a national jury of civic engagement leaders.
Wichita was judged on the merits of three local projects that highlighted:
- The inclusive collaboration of Bob Lutz and others that produced League 42 in 2013 and the growth of the program to over 600 players and 50 teams;
- The work of the Health and Wellness Coalition to address access barriers to healthy foods and USD 259's alternative breakfast and summer meal programs. Schools that implemented a breakfast program have seen a reduction in tardiness by 24%. Also highlighted was the Coalition's work to implement the Bike Share ICT program. More than 11,000 cyclists have generated over 16,000 hours of bicycle riding from six locations across the city and have burned an estimated 8 million calories; and
- The Wichita Police Department's efforts to strengthen community bonds and build relationships through efforts like the First Steps Cookout and the creation of the God Squad.
A detailed application that illustrated Wichita's inclusive engagement practices for creating healthy communities was submitted earlier this year and in March, Wichita was named a finalist.
The team that went to Denver to represent Wichita included members of Council, City staff, USD 259 officials, local clergy and residents. It competed against 19 other community teams by crafting a skit that was a parody of the "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" to highlight its three projects.
(See the Wichita presentation and question and answer period by viewing the accompanying videos.)
The All-America City Award recognizes communities that leverage civic engagement, collaboration, inclusiveness and innovation to successfully address local issues. Created in 1949, the award – which was once called the "Nobel Prize for constructive citizenship" – is given out to 10 communities every year. Wichita won the honor in 1961, 1993, 1999 and 2009.
So, what does it mean to be named an All-America City? Without a doubt, the recognition fosters an enhanced sense of pride and highlights the great work of our residents -- but that is just the beginning.
The National Civil League has done some research on past award winners and this is what they found:
- Winners find it easier to attract and retain businesses, as well as new residents, looking for a healthy community. Winners have also seen an increase in tourism, grants and bond ratings.
- The NCL has also determined that the application process itself encourages communities to evaluate themselves and, once the competition is over, forge new partnerships.
Let's use this award to move the city forward in a positive direction -- to show that residents, businesses, non-profits and government can all work together to benefit the entire community.
One way to do that is to download the All-America City logo that is located below. We encourage you to share it on social media, post it on your website or use it in your marketing materials. The sky's the limit to the ways we can spread the good news. All we ask is that when you do, please include our hashtag #WeAreICT.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our country, let's also recognize how great it is that we live in a City that is inclusive, creative and transformative.