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.
2021 Youth of the Year – Kou Her
“I believe that I can represent America’s youth by making impactful changes to the community with my voice. I hope to create this change by advocating for youth who do not have a father figure. Giving them a voice and helping provide them with the love and support they need to grow will have a huge impact on their lives, and give them the tools they need to be successful.”
Kou Her, the Youth of the Year candidate from our East Side Club, was named BGCTC’s Youth of the Year on March 11, 2021. Kou first came to the Clubs as part of a volleyball partnership in the summer of 2019. In just two years, Kou has grown into an impassioned leader who is always looking for ways to help in his community.
Kou describes himself as determined, empathetic, and always willing to work with others. During the summer of 2020, Kou worked part-time at the East Side Club, helping coordinate weekly food distributions to local families in need of additional resources and support through the COVID-19 pandemic. After graduation, Kou plans to attend college in Chicago to study computer science. Kou will go on to represent the Twin Cities at the Minnesota Youth of the Year competition on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
2020 Youth of the Year – Ke’la Scuefield
Ke’la Scuefield, a senior from our Patrick Henry Club, was chosen as BGCTC’s Youth of the Year on January 31, 2020. Ke’la’s past endeavors included significant involvement in a Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) project, which involved the facilitation of focus groups to gather data on various mental health topics in communities of color, and her group later had the honor of presenting their project at the Beacons National Conference in San Francisco. An inspired optimist and a Club member for over seven years, Ke’la also received recognition for her leadership qualities through Beacons’ Big Homies mentoring program. On March 16, 2020, Ke’la won the title of Minnesota Youth of the Year during a virtual presentation, following the cancellation of in-person Youth of the Year events due to safety concerns surrounding the growing COVID-19 pandemic. After graduating from Patrick Henry High School, Ke’la went on to attend Morgan State University, a prestigious HBCU in Maryland.
2019 Youth of the Year – Anaa Jibicho
2018 Youth of the Year – Heaven Cunningham
2017 Youth of the Year – Anaa Jibicho
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
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