Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club teens. Club members who earn the Youth of the Year title embody the values of leadership service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.

Local Clubs recognize members ages 14 to 18 as Youth of the Month Winners and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competitions. State winners each receive a $5,000 scholarship and advance to regional competitions.

Regional winners receive an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Six youth, including five regional winners and a military winner, advance to the National Youth of the Year competition for a chance at an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable up to $100,000 for four years. The National Youth of the Year represents all Boys & Girls Club youth.

Payton Bowdry with President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Jim Clark, at the Midwest Youth of the Year competition.

2018 Youth of the Year - Heaven Cunningham

“I am happy to have another place to call home, and I am honored to say it is my local Boys & Girls Club”

Heaven Cunningham has been a member of the East Side Boys & Girls Club for the past five years. In addition to the Boys & Girls Club, Heaven has been involved with Girl Scouts since 2015. Heaven has a rigorous course load in school, taking several AP classes and maintaining a 3.4 GPA. Heaven leads an active lifestyle by being involved in her school’s cheerleading team as the captain, and helps to recruit members for Boys & Girls Clubs sports leagues. Heaven is dedicated to volunteering and service, and has been the VP of the Keystone Club since 2015.

2017 Youth of the Year - Anaa Jibicho

Anaa has been a Club member for the past seven years. He has participated in many programs such as Career Launch, Money Matters, Goals for Graduation, and the new Teen Pathways program. As part of the Pathways program, Anaa became a Community Outreach intern. Anaa also recently became the president of the Keystone Club at Mt. Airy.

Outside of the Club, Anaa works hard as a part of the National Honor Society and JROTC. He makes his education a priority, and is at the top of his graduating class. He plans to attend college in the fall of 2019 to study to become a neurosurgeon!

2016 Youth of the Year - Payton Bowdry

“I understand that being the Youth of the Year comes with great responsibility. I know the significance that this position holds, and I want to use my influence to better the lives of young people across the nation. I know that with a Boys & Girls Club in the life of every youth, we would all have an opportunity for a brighter and more positive future.”