One of the most popular Exchange youth projects, the Youth of the Month/Year Award recognizes hard-working high school students who attain high levels of scholastic achievement, community involvement and leadership. This proven program not only rewards outstanding young people, but also provides an incentive for other youngsters to strive for equally high levels of achievement. Once a Youth of the Month program has been successfully implemented, the groundwork for conducting an annual Youth of the Year competition is already in place. Selection of the Youth of the Year is simply made from the club's Youth of the Month recipients for that school year. The club's Youth of the Year advances to district competition, and ultimately, an opportunity to vie for the prestigious National Youth of the Year Award. Specially designed plaques and certificates, along with a detailed Youth of the Month/Year information guide and application, can be obtained from National Headquarters.
The National Exchange Club’s Youth of the Month program provides Exchange Clubs with the opportunity to honor outstanding students in the community who have exhibited excellence in academics and leadership. When your club becomes involved in this worthwhile program, you are joining hundreds of other clubs across the country in an effort to identify and recognize the young leaders of our nation.
This monthly program not only enhances career opportunities for those honored, it also promotes good citizenship, a desire for greater scholastic achievement, and the development of well-rounded personalities to other young adults in the community. The project’s human interest appeal will generate community-wide attention and media coverage for your Exchange Club.
A Youth of the Month project committee should be formed by club members to ensure successful implementation of the program. Responsibilities include:
Any young person demonstrating excellence in leadership, community service and academics is eligible for your club’s Youth of the Month program. A more detailed list of qualifying criteria may be developed by the Youth of the Month committee, along with the type of organization or institution from which the candidates will be selected.
Many Exchange Clubs limit candidates to local high schools or organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. A point system based on participation, good sportsmanship, good citizenship, attendance, academics, etc., should be developed for selecting winners. When the selection is limited to a particular high school, the cooperation of the school’s faculty is helpful when calculating points for potential nominees. A list of the top three to five candidates should be submitted to the judges for a final monthly selection. Judges should base their decisions on a candidate’s well-rounded qualifications, and not solely on one particular outstanding achievement.
The awards presented to the Youth of the Month honorees are decided upon by the committee. Many times it is appropriate to present an honoree with a plaque or certificate. In any form, the award provides the recipient with testimony of the honor to his or her family, friends and classmates. Special Youth of the Month plaques and certificates are available from your Supply Department. Monetary gifts for future education are also appropriate.
When presenting the award, the ceremony should be dignified and professional. A special Exchange Club meeting should be set aside each month for Youth of the Month presentations. The recipient’s family should be invited, along with any faculty members or youth group directors who helped to coordinate the effort.
Before the presentation of the award, someone should briefly outline the accomplishments, future goals and qualities which led to the honoree’s selection. The youth should be informed in advance that he or she will be expected to make a brief acceptance speech.
The importance of publicity for your club’s Youth of the Month project cannot be stressed enough. Since the objective of the project is to give public recognition to young people for their accomplishments, your club’s public relations committee should plan a publicity campaign aimed at the local media. The best way to accomplish this is by sending news releases to area television and radio stations, newspapers and student publications.
The news release should cover who was selected as Youth of the Month, some of that person’s achievements, where and when the event is going to take place and finally, an explanation of the Youth of the Month program.
The Youth of the Month project logically leads to a Youth of the Year recipient. Your club should select a panel of judges who will be responsible for reviewing all of the Youth of the Month winners. When the most outstanding student is selected for this prestigious award, a special Youth of the Year Award banquet should be organized. The banquet should also feature a keynote speaker; a distinguished educator or other prominent person in the community would be appropriate. The honoree should also receive an official Youth of the Year plaque or certificate. Many Exchange Clubs choose to give an additional token of congratulations in the form of a U.S. Savings Bond or gift certificate.
After a club has chosen its Youth of the Year, the honoree’s name and qualifications should be submitted to the district for the District Youth of the Year competition. Please use the Youth of the Year application form available from National Headquarters or your district youth chairperson. The form ranks candidates by means of a numerical score based on scholastic and community achievements. This is the official national form. If used at all levels, it will ensure fairness and accuracy throughout the entire process.
Your district should appoint a Youth of the Year chairperson. It is this person’s responsibility to set a deadline for all entries and make sure that clubs are informed of this deadline. During the district’s annual convention, a special ceremony/banquet should be organized to honor the District Youth of the Year.
Your district’s Youth of the Year then becomes eligible to compete with the honorees from all districts in Exchange for the prestigious title of National Youth of the Year. This award spotlights an outstanding young person who excels in leadership, citizenship and scholarship. The award process facilitates recognition of the high achievements of our young people at the community, district, and national level.
Each district may nominate two candidates (opposite genders) who live within the district.
Candidates must be qualified for graduation from public, parochial, or private schools, and must have been selected Youth of the Year winners on both the club and district levels.
Entry deadline for National Youth of the Year candidates is June 1.
Each entry must be returned on an official entry form accompanied by the essay and a paragraph detailing the nominee’s most outstanding achievement. The entry must be signed by the district president. A 5 X 7 photo should also be included. A panel of three qualified judges will meet at National Headquarters to screen entries and select the winner.
The National Exchange Club will present an award and a $10,000 scholarship to the National Youth of the Year recipient. The first $5,000 will be presented at the Youth Recognition Luncheon at the National Convention. The second $5,000 installment will be paid in full to the student’s school of choice at the time of registration of his or her sophomore year. In addition, the student will be recognized in Exchange’s national magazine, Exchange Today. As guests of the National Exchange Club, the award recipient and up to two adult chaperons (parents or official guardians) will enjoy the highlights of the National Convention, during which the award will be presented. The National Exchange Club will cover event meals, air fare and hotel for the honoree and his/her two chaperons.
Note: Candidate must be able to accept the award in person at the scheduled event at the National Convention in order to win. Call National Headquarters for current year’s dates & times, 800-XCHANGE (924-2643), ext. 123, and verify with candidate before submitting entry form to National. This requirement also applies to the National A.C.E. Award.