|This article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2009)|
Presidents' Summit for America's Future
The idea of a presidential summit to encourage greater volunteerism and community service originated with former Michigan Governor and longtime volunteerism leader George W. Romney, in a proposal he drafted just four days before his death in July 1995.
In late April 1997, Romney's vision was fulfilled, as Presidents Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Gerald Ford and First Lady Nancy Reagan, representing President Ronald Reagan, met at the Presidents' Summit for America's Future in Philadelphia. An estimated 5,000 volunteers were present in Marcus Foster Stadium. Also present were 30 governors, 100 mayors, 145 community delegations, dozens of prominent business leaders and several thousand citizens. Powell was chairman of the conference. At this conference the Presidents asked the nation to make youth a top priority and to support the "Five Promises".
Powell subsequently became the Chairman of America's Promise, the outgrowth of the summit. He held that position until his appointment as U.S. Secretary of State but still actively supports the foundation. Alma Powell is currently Chair of the Alliance.
The foundation works with hundreds of companies, non-profit organizations, faith based organizations, educational institutions, as well as government agencies to achieve its goals.
Marguerite Sallee (future wife of journalist Mort Kondracke) has served as CEO since 2004.
In 2009, America's Promise Alliance published GradNation: A Guidebook to Help Communities Tackle the Dropout Crisis, a tool that includes suggestions for how a community can keep students in school and prepare them for life after school.
1. Ongoing relationships with caring adults – parents, mentors, tutors, neighbors,youth volunteers or coaches
A caring adult serves as a guide, a mentor and a role model for young people. This sense of connection—within and outside the family—is a powerful factor that encourages good social skills, responsible values and a positive identity. Adult role models include parents, teachers, coaches,neighbors,youth volunteers, extended family members and tutors. Parents are the most important but children need the support of other positive adults in their lives as well. All across the nation, America's Promise partners are connecting caring adults to young people.
2. Safe places with structured activities during non-school hours
A safe place with constructive activities gives youth an alternative to street corners, gangs and other harmful environments. A safe place nurtures young people's skills and interests, enriches their academic performance and gives them opportunities to contribute to their communities. America's Promise partners are responding by creating safe havens for young people.
3. Healthy start and future
Children need a healthy start before they begin schooling – parental care and early immunizations are vital in a child's first years of life. Children and adolescents also need accessible and affordable healthcare, including good nutrition; eye, ear and dental checkups; and regular exercise. America's Promise partners provide accessible and affordable health services for all young people throughout development.
4. Marketable skills through effective education
Marketable skills enable young people to prepare for employment in the 21st century. Young people must master basic academic and analytical skills, learn workplace etiquette and know how to use new technology, such as computers and the Internet. America's Promise partners help youth develop these essential career skills.
5. Opportunities to give back through community service
Community service not only benefits society, it also enriches the lives of people who provide it. Young volunteers have higher self-esteem, perform better in school, build leadership skills and learn how to solve community problems. Unfortunately, many youth are rarely asked to participate in community service – even though most volunteer when asked. America's Promise partners are providing numerous opportunities for youth to help their communities.