ASU West launches first-ever statewide Promise Station
Photo by Carolyn Dryer Five-year-olds Hally Rost and Spencer Ross, left, students in the Arizona State University West Child Development Center, push the button with ASU West Provost Elaine Maimon to officially launch the Arizona State Promise Station. ASU West volunteer coordinator Pit Lucking is at right.

Arizona State University West Provost Elaine Maimon had help pushing buttons last Friday from a couple kids not yet ready for college-level classes. Five-year-olds Spencer Ross and Hally Rost, both enrolled in the ASU West Child Development Center, pushed the "enter" key on a laptop to launch the Arizona State Promise Station.

Youngsters helping launch the Web site probably provided a fitting conclusion to an event that had adult speakers explaining what Promise means in the real world and what it could mean in the future on the World Wide Web.

The "Station" is an Internet site that, in the words of Kevin Kase, vice president of Community Network for America's Promise n The Alliance for Youth, provides "one central place where people can go to get involved in the life of a child."

America's Promise was established in April 1997 following the Presidents' Summit for America's Future. All living former Presidents of the United States met in Philadelphia to come up with ways to help the nation's children lead "healthy, fulfilling and productive lives."

America's Promise n The Alliance for Youth was the result of that Philadelphia meeting and Gen. Colin Powell, now the U.S. Secretary of State, was the founder. The organization has as its foundation a commitment to five promises:

1) Caring adults

2) Safe places

3) Healthy start

4) Marketable skills

5) Opportunity to serve

There are 500 organizations nationally that support America's Promise and 500 communities that are America's Promise communities.

In the spring of her first year at ASU West, Maimon was one of five delegates from Arizona selected to attend the Philadelphia launch of America's Promise to Youth.

In 2000, Maimon said, ASU West was officially designated a Campus of Promise, "all within fulfillment of the mission of this campus n community involvement."

Maimon said a national survey of 400 campuses concluded that ASU West was the No. 1 campus for community involvement.

"The one person in the center of this is Pit Lucking," Maimon said.

Lucking is the coordinator of volunteer services at ASU West.

With the Promise Station now on the Web, the entire community may pick and choose the commitments it wants to make, either through monetary contributions or time.

Kase said, if anyone ever has any doubts about how important the America's Promise work is, all they need to do is remember the experiences children in the Washington, D.C. area have had in the past month in dealing with the threat from the serial sniper.

"From time to time in this line of work, you can get very discouraged," Kase said. "But there are people that still depend on us."

Kase encouraged the audience at the launch of the Promise Station to try and do more with less. One American auto maker is attempting to make doing more for children with less a lot easier, however.

A major boost to America's Promise came from the Ford Motor Company Fund, which donated $5 million to bring the Promise Station technology to users free of charge.

In its informational statements, America's Promise goes back to studies that "show that adults say preparing young people for the future should be the nation's top priority, but too few are acting on that belief.

Americans also believe the Five Promises of America's Promise - caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills and opportunities to serve - are the right solution for building the character and competence of youth. But, research also shows that resources are hard to find."

The Arizona State Promise Station hopes to become a resource-gathering site. Lucking demonstrated how to use it.

First, get on the Internet, go to http://www.arizonastatepromise.org. If you want to donate money, it takes you to the address. If you are a member of an organization that wants to provide mentors or give youth an opportunity to intern at a business, there is a section you can click on.

There is even a "want ad" section, where people can post requests for volunteers, computers, books and other needs to potential "wish granters."

If community members want to be a Promise Partner, Lucking said, send a profile,fill it out on a section of the Arizona State Promise Station Web site, which is maintained by officials at ASU West.

"A Promise Station will become a community's mission control; the mission is to fully prepare kids for the journey from childhood to adulthood," said Peter A. Gallagher, president and CEO of America's Promise. "It will enable people to enlist in this national movement right in their own backyards."