Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program. It is our signature effort to foster a new generation of leaders, fully prepared to live and lead in a diverse, global and integrated world economy.
In the 21st-century world and workplace, leadership skills such as communication, goal-setting and teamwork are essential for everyone – especially young people preparing to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood. With a grassroots beginning in 1947, Youth of the Year has evolved into a comprehensive leadership development program, which includes:
- Youth of the Month – Leadership Recognition Program
- Junior Youth of the Year – Leadership Readiness Program, and
- Youth of the Year – Leadership Development Program
Youth of the Month
Youth of the Month is a recognition program that focuses on acknowledging and making Club members aware of their own leadership abilities. Youth of the Month is a Club-driven experience that fosters leadership within the Club. Unlike many BGCA programs, which are implemented in two or three months of dedicated time, Youth of the Month is most commonly run on an ongoing basis over the course of a year. Youth of the Month is primarily a recognition program, but engaging in various leadership experiences is an important part of the program. Clubs have a great deal of flexibility in how they implement Youth of the Month, so specific activities and experiences may vary, but the focus is always on making Club youth aware of leadership abilities they might not think they possesses and cultivating them so that they learn what it means to be a leader.
Junior Youth of the Year
Distinct from the National Youth of the Year program, Junior Youth of the Year seeks to develop junior leaders ages 10-13 within the Club environment. The program fosters Club members’ emerging leadership abilities while preparing them for later participation in the Youth of the Year program. In addition to recognizing the leadership achievements of Club youth, Junior Youth of the Year also cultivates their leadership potential, providing the foundation they need for advanced leadership development, academic excellence and postsecondary success. Through this program, Club youth become motivated to seek opportunities for leadership and to act as responsible citizens and change agents.
National Youth of the Year
Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be the National Youth of the Year, serving as an ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth as well as a voice for all of our nation’s young people. Over the decades, these individuals have exemplified the Boys & Girls Club mission and are proof to the impact Clubs make in transforming and saving kids’ lives. National Youth of the Year winners have achieved success in a variety of industries, including entertainment, politics, business and sports.
Becoming National Youth of the Year is an exciting and inspiring journey. Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state and regional Youth of the Year events. Six teens, including five regional winners and a national military youth winner, advance to Washington, D.C., for the National Youth of the Year Gala & Celebration Dinner, where one outstanding young person is named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national teen spokesperson. The National Youth of the Year is a role model, leader and advocate for the nearly 4 million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs each year, and all of America’s young people.