Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program for Club members, promoting service to Club, community and family; academic success; strong moral character; life goals; and poise and public speaking ability.
Locally, our Clubs recognize members who are high school sophomores through seniors to represent their Clubs at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley annual competition. The winner of that title moves on to the state competition. State winners each receive a $1,000 scholarship and participate in regional competitions. Five regional winners each receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 scholarship and is installed by the President of the United States.
In the United States, the statistic shows only 69% of our high school-aged youth are graduating. We are proud to say at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley teens that are members have a 90% graduation rate! We focus on making sure that every member that attends the Club gets the support and academic resources necessary to progress from one grade to the next at the appropriate age and that they are graduating on time. Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley believe that continued education is just as important. We provide scholarship money to help get our teens into the trade schools or colleges of their dreams. Our annual Youth of the Year program raises the funds necessary to let this happen.
Meet the 2021 Youth of the Year Candidates
Amaya Louis & Elizabeth Sands Branch
Amaya has been a Club member of the Sands Branch for 4 years. She has established herself as a dependable, honest, and responsible student who is constantly looking for ways to assist staff at the Club. Amaya has a 3.4 GPA at Deer Valley High School, is President of the Keystone Club, is a group leader for the Girl Scouts program, participates in the Leaders in Training (LIT) program, and is active member on the soccer, track, and swim teams. Through these programs, she has acquired 300 volunteer hours. She has also earned the Bronze and Silver Awards for her volunteer service through the Girl Scouts program; and she’s currently working toward her Gold Award. Amaya is an advocate for equality and loving others for their differences. She states the Club gave her the courage and hope to believe that she was going to be okay and was enough. Amaya plans on attending the University of Arizona to further her education and eventually become a veterinarian.
David Tri-City West/Thornwood Branch
David has been a Club member for 9 years. During his membership, he has been able to impact his fellow teen members with his ability to positively connect with others despite their unlikely compatibility and difference. David has a 3.64 GPA at Agua Fria High School, is a Drill Commander and Color guard Commander in his Air force JROTC program, is active at his church, and is on the basketball team. Through these programs, he has acquired over 40 volunteer hours through the Boys & Girls Club, and over 270 volunteer hours with the Air Force JROTC. He plans on enlisting in the Marine Corps following graduation. He hopes to dedicate his life to preserving freedom and keeping people safe. He also hopes to inspire others to serve their country and continue their education.
Dylan Superstition Mountain Branch
Dylan has been involved with the Superstition Mountain Club for 12 years. With the help of the Club, Dylan has learned how to manage his frustration, focus, set goals, and take strides to reach those goals. Dylan currently has over a 4.0 GPA at Skyline High School, and is the President of the Keystone club, Vice President of the Torch Club, and is a part of the Leaders in Training (LIT) Program. Through these programs, he has acquired 1,258 volunteer hours. With his mother and the Club’s support, Dylan has become successful and intelligent and always puts his education and finishing things as his first priority. He plans to attend Northern Arizona University to pursue a degree in Engineering on a Lumberjack Scholarship. After graduation, Dylan plans on finding a successful career as a Mechanical Engineer.
Gabriel Ed Robson Family Branch
Gabriel has been a Club member of the Ed Robson Family Branch for 4 years. During his membership, he has come out of his shell and improved his communication with others. Gabriel has a 4.3 GPA at North Canyon High School, is the treasurer of Keystone Club, participates in the Leader in Training (LIT) program, Camp Swift, AVID program, and is a sales associate at Breezy Pop. Through these programs, he has acquired over 163 volunteer hours. The Boys & Girls Club has provided Gabriel with many opportunities to help him achieve his future goals. Gabriel hopes to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to pursue mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering and eventually work for NASA. With this career, he hopes to express his creative ideas and make amazing technological advances.
Hunter Spencer D. & Mary Jane Stewart Branch
Hunter has been a Club member since the creation of the Stewart Club 11 years ago. He has an infectious personality, and his kindness and search for knowledge is at the foundation of his high morals and personal values. When he was young, Hunter struggled with his family’s financial situation and his father’s substance abuse issues. He overcame feelings of loneliness and resentment that came as a result of those challenges. Today, Hunter has a 3.8 GPA at Trevor Browne High School, is serving as the Senior Class Student Council President, is a participant in the Keystone Club, the Leadership in Training (LIT) program, STOMP team, coaches for the Youth Flag Football program, and volunteers with the Better to Give program. Over the years, he has combined his love for sports and volunteering by also serving over 700 hours at the local YMCA as a coach and/or referee for Midnight Basketball, Miracle League program, and Special Olympics events. Hunter hopes to attend Arizona State University and pursue an Independent Degree Program to eventually become a motivational speaker and inspire young athletes. He is determined to bring hope and positive energy to others.
Jahari Bob & Renee Parsons Branch
Jahari joined the Parsons Club member just over 2 years ago, he has quickly established himself as a role model for the younger teens and youth. Jahari is the President of Keystone, is Captain of the Club basketball team, has participated in the Leaders in Training (LIT) program, Teen Court, and is a leader in Read Better Be Better program where he helps younger members improve their reading and comprehension skills. Through these programs, he has acquired 180 volunteer hours. Jahari states the Club has changed him as a person. He is more open to exploring new things and has grown more confident as a leader. Jahari plans to attend Arizona State University to continue his education, become a psychiatrist, and find a platform to empower the youth of the future.
Ricardo Jerry & Helen Wisotsky/Peoria Branch
Ricardo has been a Peoria Club member for 11 years. During his membership, he has grown exponentially and established himself as a teen leader and a great role model to his peers. Ricardo has a 3.3 GPA at Peoria High School, is Vice President of the Keystone Club, participates in the Torch Club, is on the Varsity soccer team at school, and was a My Life Day coordinator. He has participated in street cleanups, volunteered at St. Mary’s Food Bank, helped Veterans decorate a parade float, helped adopt kids for Christmas in partnership with the Salvation Army Christmas Angels, helped feed the homeless, and even granted a Hospice patient their dream come true of attending Symphony Hall for an orchestra concert. Through these programs, he has acquired over 30 volunteer hours. He hopes to attend trade school to study auto mechanics, welding, and engineering. He also hopes to become a leader in his community and inspire others to be more mindful citizens.
Vakentae I.G. Homes Branch
Although Vakentae has only been a Club member for 2 years, he has quickly become a positive leader and influencer among the other Club teens. He is the president of the Keystone Club and a member of the Black Student Union at the Metropolitan Arts Institute. He has also participated in AZYouthforce, where he interned at Talking Stick Resort/Arena and was later hired as a Guest Relations Ambassador. He plans to attend Arizona State University and will work towards a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and psychology to become an English teacher and author. He hopes to use this career to assist young adults deal with often overlooked mental health issues by teaching them better comprehension skills and how to express themselves in written form.