USF Survey Tests Tampa's "Best Community" Ranking

TAMPA, Fla. (July 29, 2008) – What do young people think about Tampa being named one of "100 Best Communities for Young People" by the America's Promise Alliance? Research interns at the University of South Florida's Positive Youth Development program of the USF Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities found young people disagree on several points.   

"It’s not that Tampa isn’t among the best, it's that many youth don't have a good basis for comparison," said Breonni Sawyer, a junior at King High School who is one of the researchers. "Tampa could do better on safety," according to researcher Christian Williams, who is a senior at Wiregrass Rank High School. And "there’s a lot of work to do to make sure local youth receive effective education and that young people have a voice," said incoming USF freshman Seung-eun Jang.

The interns' findings have resulted in a list of recommendations that address young people’s concerns: 

Teen transportation
• Findings suggest young people have difficulty getting to the places they want to go. A possible solution to this is a special teen bus or "teen shuttle."

Tutoring centers for kids by kids
• After school service available at easily accessible locations, free of charge for students in need of extra help
• Volunteer tutors would receive community service hours

Community Service Web site
• A resource for young people interested in increased involvement in their communities.
• A large database containing information about projects looking for young people to participate.

Easily accessible, anonymous support groups
• For such matters as depression, sexuality, advice, etc.

Scholarships for camps and extracurricular activities
• Findings suggest some young people are unable to participate in camps and other extracurricular activities due to the high costs.

Mentoring and life skills programs
• Findings suggest young people feel they are not being adequately prepared for the job market
    -- Job training programs for teen that include incentives for employers to hire certified youth
    -- Mentoring programs focused on technology skills and personal budgeting

"Young people have a lot to contribute in the form of perceptions, observations and excellent ideas that would make Tampa a truly great city for young people," said Judi Jetson, director, USF Collaborative for Children, Families and Communities.  “It’s fascinating to see young people trained in research skills, rigorously go about gathering data and coming back with useful information. In this case, I believe our social service agencies can use these findings to spur initiatives to let young people know about programs that already exist and possibly create others that address young people's needs.”

The University of South Florida is among the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. It is one of Florida's top three research universities.  USF was awarded more than $300 million in research contracts and grants last year. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 45,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland.  USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

– USF –