The goal of Youth of the Year is to recognize exceptional Boys and Girls Club youth and give them the voice and path to showcase personal development and achieve their dreams. Club members deserve to be recognized for their character, personal growth, leadership qualities, and outstanding achievements. Such youth demonstrate what can be achieved by participating in the Boys and Girls Clubs.

The Youth of the Year recognition program for members ages 14-18, is the cornerstone of B&GCA’s Character and Leadership Development core program area. It promotes and celebrates young people’s service to the Club, community, and family; academic performance; moral character; life goals; poise and public speaking abilities. A mainstay of the Boys and Girls Club experience, the year-round program helps young people focus on personal development areas needed to be successful Youth of the Year candidates and productive adults. Several past winners have gone on to graduate school and to work in the U.S Peace Corps.

The program begins by recognizing youth at the club level, where Clubs are encouraged to select Youths of the Month to help build participation throughout the year. Winners go on to participate in state and regional competitions.

  • Club Finalists: Local judges choose a Club Youth of the Year from three finalists. By this point, candidates have been nominated, written essays, gathered support letters, and prepared short speeches. Club Youths of the Year and second-place winners who have completed 100 hours of service are eligible to receive a $1,000 Presidential Freedom Scholarship. All local winners go on to compete at the state level.
  • State, Regional and National Finalists: State winners advance to competitions in B&GCSA’s Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and Pacific regions. The five regional winners then participate in the national competition, which takes place annually in Washington, D.C. Participants are recognized at a Congressional Breakfast and scheduled for a White House visit with the President. Each regional winner receives an engraved plaque and a $5,000 scholarship. The National winner receives the National Youth of the Year plaque and an additional scholarship award of $10,000.