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.
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.
Establishing a Youth of the Month/Year Award Committee is an important part of the process. Committee members can: prepare the budget proposal; conduct the community sources search; issue invitations; brief students, school staff and community members; provide speaker coordination; take photographs; act as media coordinator; solicit donations; set standards for nominating and judging: select judges; and, obtain certificates and/ or plaques.
The expenses incurred with this award are dependent on the scope of the project and the budget established by the club presenting the award. The amount of money expended for this project can be a little or as much as the budget allows. Some items to reflect on during the budget process are:
number of community sources to contact; number of students competing for Youth of the Month/Year Award; number of guests attending meal during student presentation; printing expenses for certificates; frames for certificates; gift for student presenters; number of students awarded Youth of the Month/Year Award, one for the community or one for each high school; plaques and engraving; and, scholarship.
Utilize committee members to contact and brief community sources. Examples of community sources available to nominate prospective candidates for A.C.E. Awards may include public, private, charter and alternative school staff or counselors, YMCA/YWCA youth leaders, Girls and Boys Club staff, city recreation and youth activities co-coordinators, and church youth group leaders.
An initial contact might consist of a letter: sharing information regarding the Youth of the Month/Year Award; introducing appropriate committee members; and, requesting an appointment to discuss more details. Follow up with a phone call to determine if the community source is a good fit for the award program and if so schedule time to meet.
Spend time introducing the organization’s staff to Exchange, describing the four pillars of Exchange, concentrating on Youth, and specifically Student programs. Provide individuals with application packets for qualifying students (available on the National website). Review the timelines for returning the application to the committee and the dates for student presentations. A cover letter is helpful in reinforcing the information. Ensure that the staff knows this year’s topic.
Clubs may choose to acknowledge each of the Youth of the Month candidates at a regular club meeting or at a special club meeting once a month, with a certificate and gift.
The committee will need to establish a panel of judges to review and evaluate the Youth of the Month candidates. Guidelines for qualified judges can be determined by each club. Once all the candidates’ application packets have been received the committee will route them to the judges for review. Once the judges have evaluated the student’s applications and determined which student will become the Youth of the Year, the committee will have the plaque engraved with the name of the student, the year of the award, and the name of your club.
Once the local Youth of the Year Award winner has been determined the application packet can be routed to the District Award committee for competition at the District level. The Youth of the Year Award may be presented during a special club meeting focused on honoring the student. Family members, school counselors and individual nominating the student should be invited to meeting. Many schools have an award ceremony for students receiving special recognition and scholarships. This would be a great venue for presenting the Youth of the Year Award.
Let the media know about your event. Invite the local press to your meeting. If they are unable to attend submit an article to the local media acknowledging the Youth of the Month Award winner s and sharing information about your club and the significance of the Award. Post the press release on the Club website or Face Book site. In addition, with permission from the student, the Club can post the student’s essay in the Club Bulletin and the website. Selected of the Youth of the Year provides another opportunity to contact local media sources for publicity.
Send thank you notes to all of the individuals involved in the project. Include the individuals who nominated the students, the judges and companies or community members who donated supplies or money for scholarship funds. Take this opportunity to invite then to a future meeting so that they might learn more about Exchange.