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Coalition To Hold 'Town Meetings' on Youth Issues

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Washington--Hundreds of "town meetings" will convene across the country this fall and winter to discuss youth-related problems, the National Collaboration for Youth announced last week.

Leaders of the n.c.y., an umbrella group representing 15 youth-service organizations, said the sessions would be part of a new project entitled "Making the Grade." The campaign, unveiled at a press conference here, will also include public-service announcements and a news special this week on ABC-tv.

The effort will focus on the following issues: functional illiteracy, juvenile crime, school dropouts, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and youth unemployment.

"Despite all the efforts of many good programs and people, America is failing in its effort to solve these six problems," said Margaret Gates, chairman of the n.c.y. and national executive director of the Girls Clubs of America.

A "report card" released at the briefing gave grades of F to D+ to the national response to those problems so far.

Richard F. Schubert, chairman of the project and former president of the American Red Cross, said that more than 400 communities had agreed to hold the town meetings. Parents, educators, and students all are expected to participate.

The sessions are designed to formulate "a community strategy for dealing more effectively with youth problems," according to a sample agenda.

Pilot meetings have already taken place in the Virginia cities of Alexandria and Fredericksburg.

David W. Hornbeck, chairman of the Carnegie Corporation of New York's task force on early adolescents, praised the "unprecedented breadth and depth" of the project. "It's economically stupid and a moral blunder to continue to allow the conditions that breed these [failing] grades to exist," he said.

The ABC special, tentatively titled "Survival Stories: Growing Up, Down, and Out," is set to air Sept. 14 at 9 P.M., Eastern daylight time.

--m.n.

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