BRISTOL, Conn., Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- This evening, Boys & Girls Clubs of America named Josias Reynoso as its 2020 National Youth of the Year during its star-studded virtual Youth of the Year ceremony. He accepted the honor before an audience of more than 400 that included virtual appearances from Secretary Condoleezza Rice, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Misty Copeland, Ruben Studdard, Damaris Lewis, Lance Bass and Nischelle Turner, who emceed the event. The ceremony also featured a special performance by Kane Brown and Club kids from across the country. The award comes with a $50,000 academic scholarship.
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America's premier recognition program for Club teens. The National Youth of the Year title is the highest honor a Club member can receive, representing the voice of over four million Club youth. For 73 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. This year, the Youth of the Year program will award nearly $1 million in scholarships to Club teens.
Toyota is the signature sponsor of the Youth of the Year program. Additional supporters include Diamond sponsors The Papa John's Foundation for Building Community, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. In addition to the scholarship, Josias will get to hand-pick a brand-new Toyota Corolla. Toyota is dedicated to empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build great futures and become the leaders of tomorrow.
"At my Boys & Girls Club, I found a passion for teaching youth and connecting with them on another level," said Josias, 2020-2021 National Youth of the Year. "As the National Youth of the Year, I hope to empower all kids, especially those who are like me, to be leaders in their communities."
Josias was introduced to the Boys & Girls Club in Bristol when a friend asked him to volunteer as a STEM mentor. Initially, he was hesitant because communication is a challenge for him. Growing up, he was often bullied for "being different." When he was 11, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum, and with encouragement from Club staff, he quickly gained self-confidence.
Josias helped run STEM activities at his Club such as robotics and coding. He sees teaching as a platform for children to grow and feel accepted, not only in STEM but as empowered individuals. Also at the Club, Josias took on leadership roles serving as treasurer of Boys & Girls Club of America's teen leadership program, Keystone. Josias also credits his Bristol Club for meeting some of his closest friends.
"This year has been quite challenging for our youth but it has also been uplifting and encouraging to see Josias navigate this journey to become Boys & Girls Clubs of America's National Youth of the Year," said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "Josias has an amazing story and with his passion, I know he will empower kids and teens across the nation to go after their dream and create a plan for their future."
Each year, starting on the local level, Boys & Girls Clubs select Youth of the Year candidates 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 nearly $45,000 in scholarships.
As Youth of the Year, Josias will serve as an official spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its Alumni & Friends Club. Josias will also be integral part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Agenda for America's Youth, a policy platform focusing on critical issues and solutions impacting young people.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.6 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 Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Boys & Girls Clubs of America