Boys & Girls Clubs of America Names Florida Teen National Youth of the Year
Sarasota Club youth awarded $145,000 in college scholarships, organization’s highest honor representing four million kids and teens
PR Newswire, Washington, D.C., September 30, 2015
Last night Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( BGCA) named Whitney Stewart National Youth of the Year in a ceremony held at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. She accepted the honor before an audience that included members of Congress and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) partners and supporters, including National Spokesperson and Club alum Denzel Washington.
Youth of the Year is BGCA's premier recognition program for Club teens and the National Youth of the Year title is the highest honor a Club member can receive, representing the voice of four million Club youth. For nearly 70 years, the Youth of the Year program has recognized young people for their outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle. The Youth of the Year program is presented by Disney with support from signature partner Toyota. Along with additional partners Taco Bell Foundation and University of Phoenix, the National Youth of the Year will receive $145,000 in academic scholarships, as well as a trip to Disney World and a brand new Toyota vehicle. This year Youth of the Year will award more than $1 million in scholarships to Club teens.
“Boys & Girls Clubs saved and forever changed my life,” said Whitney Stewart 2015-16 National Youth of the Year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “My Club ignited a passion in me to achieve my dreams and I’m proud to represent millions of teens and young Club alumni whose lives are forever transformed by their Boys & Girls Clubs.”
Through the support of her Boys & Girls Club, Whitney became a leader in multiple arenas of her life. She served as president of the Keystone Club, BGCA’s teen leadership group, and on the organization’s National Teen Advisory Board. She earned exceptional grades in school, where she also excelled in Junior R.O.T.C., attaining the rank of Regimental Commander, the school’s top leadership position. She also started SEED to SOIL, a club that educates students and parents about healthy lifestyles and sustainable agriculture. Currently a freshman at University of Pennsylvania, Whitney plans to become an attorney in the U.S. Air Force, followed by a career in politics and academia.
Congrats to @BGCA_Clubs new National #YOY Whitney S! Tweet
“Whitney truly embodies the leadership and commitment to excellence that the Youth of the Year program represents,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We can change the opportunity equation for kids today, just like Whitney, and enable them to achieve a great future. Whitney exemplifies all that we do as an organization to help kids and teens, and we know she will be a tremendous advocate for young people around this country.”
Becoming National Youth of the Year is an exciting and inspiring journey. Starting on the local level, Clubs select Youth of the Year representatives who then progress to state and regional competitions, culminating with the National Youth of the Year Celebration which features youth from each of the five regions, as well as the National Military Youth of the Year. Regional finalists are awarded up to $45,000 in scholarships and the National Youth of the Year is awarded an additional $25,000 renewable for four years up to $100,000.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by Disney, who has supported BGCA for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota, the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, is dedicated to supporting and inspiring the next generation of engineers, thinkers and new leaders who will help drive the American economy. Since 2011, Toyota has provided the National Youth of the Year with a new Corolla. Additional support is provided by University of Phoenix, a national education partner that has joined with BGCA to impact academic success among youth across the country, and the Taco Bell Foundation, BGCA’s premier partner for teen empowerment.
“Disney is proud to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America to inspire the next generation of young dreamers and doers to create solutions for the complex challenges facing our 21st century society,” said Kevin Callahan, vice president of Corporate Citizenship at Disney. “Through BGCA’s National Youth of the Year program, we strive to provide America’s youth with access to the tools they need to dream and succeed.”
As Youth of the Year, Whitney will serve as the official spokesperson for BGCA and its Young Alumni & Friends Club that connects former members who are living proof of the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs. Later this year, she and the five other National Youth of the Year finalists will go to the White House for an exclusive meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Nielsen Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at BGCA’s Facebook and Twitter.