Caldwell mayor focuses on kids

Caldwell kids should be grateful Mayor Garret Nancolas is a fitness buff. He dreams up his best ideas for improving education while jogging or riding the elliptical.

“It’s my time to think,” he said, “and children are pretty much at the top of my list.”

Garret Nancolas
Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas

In 2012, Nancolas started focusing on kids when he led production of the City of Caldwell’s Youth Master Plan. This ever-changing document has been the driver for promoting safety, out-of-school events, health and wellness, education and workforce readiness, community involvement and relationship building.

“The Master Plan includes ‘promises’ related to goals, and Mayor Nancolas ensures that those promises are kept,” said Holly Cook, the research and communication specialist for the City of Caldwell. “We are creating more opportunities for Caldwell youth that improve quality of life and access to resources.”

Several programs have grown out of the Youth Master Plan:

  • Master Plan Advisory Committee — a group of about 30 community members that meets monthly, including subcommittee meetings, to work toward meeting master plan goals.
  • Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council — a group of high school students that meets regularly to advise the mayor on Caldwell kids’ needs and concerns.
  • P-16 — a program that promotes early childhood education, after-school programs and career readiness. Click here to read more on the program.
  • Caldwell Saves 1st — a program that starts college savings accounts for first-graders and requires parents to take financial planning courses. Click here to read more on the program.
  • Make A Splash — an initiative that provides every Caldwell third-grader free swim lessons during the school day.
  • Youth Summit — a day-long event that teaches leadership skills to about 80 high school students from Canyon County. Click here to read more on the program.

“We’re the only city in Idaho that has written and adopted a plan for youth and there’s maybe only half a dozen in the country that have done what we did,” Nancolas said.

All of Caldwell’s programs have multiple community partners, including the YMCA, school districts, College of Idaho and local banks and businesses.

“That’s what he does incredibly well is help facilitate connections,” Cook said.

In addition, city employees are granted time during their workday to tutor or mentor children. For the city to reach its full potential, Nancolas said, it must focus time and money on kids.

“If educating kids is not the city’s responsibility, it’s Garret Nanocolas’ responsibility,” he said. “To improve safety, crime, family wellness and economic development you start with the youth — our future. At the end of the day, the city is better off.”

Nancolas is most proud of Caldwell Saves 1st. Last year the city started college savings accounts for 30 first-graders. This year’s goal is to start college savings accounts for 100 first-graders, who will be selected from a lottery.

“What is unique and different about our program is we’re trying to address the financial training and literacy of our many unbanked or underbanked adults,” Nancolas said. “Nobody else is doing that. I thought it up during a workout.”

Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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