"The most important thing I learned at ANYTOWN is to respect other people." - CJ, 2014 ANYTOWN Graduate
ANYTOWN is a 5-day residential conference for youth that challenges them to cultivate empathy and understanding for others and learn to recognize the impact of prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination. ANYTOWN gives youth the framework to better know themselves, understand their communities and gain skills to act as positive change agents in ending discrimintion.
ANYTOWN is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, many of whom themselves graduated from the program. ANYTOWN has graduated over 5,000 delegates in the Tampa Bay region since 1991.
ANYTOWN is offered at no cost to qualified high school-aged youth in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties. Students enrolled in Pinellas County Schools receive 1/2 of a Social Studies credit for completing ANYTOWN.
ANYTOWN has received national recognition as a "Best Practice" by the US Department of Education. It has also been recommended as one of the best programs to prevent juvenile delinquency by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. In March 2014, ANYTOWN was highlighted as an effective diversity education program in a feature in The Atlantic.
By involving youth from diverse socio-economic, ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds and by demonstrating what a unified society can look like and accomplish, ANYTOWN transforms individual lives, as well as communities, by empowering teens to value themselves as individuals and to see themselves as positive change agents.
As one ANYTOWN graduate shared: “Before Community Tampa Bay was in my life, I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t have confidence; I didn’t think I was capable of much. I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and try new things. In no way would I have described myself to be a leader. It wasn’t until I went to ANYTOWN that I actually began to feel like I was somebody and that I could make a difference in my community.”
ANYTOWN IS JUST THE BEGINNING: Hosted and presented by Community Tampa Bay staff and volunteers, Be Intentional Institutes are continuing education sessions for ANYTOWN residential graduates. These institutes assist teens in staying well-versed in strategies for promoting dialogue and cross-cultural interactions and also help them stay connected to their peers and mentors. Through Be Intentional Institutes, teens also share with one another how they have put their ANYTOWN skills into action in their own communities and gain both inspiration and support from one another to continue growing as inclusive leaders.