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Northfield’s Youth First Receives National Award

September 26, 2022

Youth First received national recognition in August for its work in ensuring that Northfield’s young people have their voices heard at local decision-making tables and are actively engaged in civic life.

The organization — a partnership between Healthy Community Initiative (HCI), the City of Northfield, and Youthprise, a Minneapolis-based youth development organization — received the 2022 Harris Wofford Common Good Award for its efforts to give young people a place at every decision-making table in Northfield through the Youth on Boards initiative and for supporting youth-led community activities through the YouthBank and Youth Grants programs.

“Working with the youth of Northfield is a constant source of inspiration for me; they are thoughtful, resourceful and unafraid to ask the tough questions,” said Meleah Follen, HCI’s director of youth engagement. “I am grateful to the City of Northfield, Youthprise and all the adults in the community who support these important programs to lift youth voice and ensure the decision-making tables in Northfield represent as many diverse voices as possible.”

Youth First was one of six programs across the country to receive the award this year from Youth Service America (YSA). The others were the Michigan Community Service Commission, the National FFA Organization, PA Youth Vote, Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, and Volunteer Iowa.

During a virtual presentation at the Youth Service Institute and 50by250 Partner Summit on Aug. 9, YSA President and CEO Steve Culbertson congratulated the winners and invited them to present about their organizations. Follen spoke on behalf of Youth First.

The presentation ceremony was recorded, and the video is available here at the Youth Service Institute website.

The Harris Wofford Common Good Award is named after Harris Wofford, a former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who helped create the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and other service organizations. The award was created to honor those who do extraordinary work toward achieving Senator Wofford’s vision of making working together for the common good the common expectation and common experience of every young person in America.

For more information about Youth First, visit

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