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Denzel Washington, Michael Phelps and Ashanti Join Boys & Girls Clubs of America to Announce the National Youth of the Year Winner, Demand Greater Focus on America’s Youth
BGCA unveils plan to confront critical issues affecting young people: poverty, graduation rates, health and safety.

ATLANTA, September 19, 2012 – Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) today announced a state of crisis for America’s youth and released its “Great Futures Impact Plan” to confront the urgent challenges facing young people. 

During a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., BGCA shared grim statistics regarding youth poverty, education, health and safety, and issued a bold call to action to legislators, educators, youth development organizations and parents on behalf of America’s youth.  The organization also shared a game plan for ensuring more young people graduate from high school with a plan for their future, demonstrate strong character and citizenship, and live healthy lifestyles. 

Joined by Oscar-award winning actor and BGCA spokesperson Denzel Washington, R&B singer Ashanti and decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, BGCA advocates and leaders explained that:

  • One in five American kids lives in poverty;
  • Three out of 10 won’t graduate on time (five out of 10 for minority students);
  • Three out of 10 are obese or overweight; 
  • One in four girls (and one in six boys) experiences sexual abuse by age 18; and
  • American students rank 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math among 34 developed nations.

“By virtually every measure, our nation is at a crossroads and we are going in the wrong direction as it relates to our young people, who determine the fate of America’s success and global competitiveness,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “As an organization with a proven track record of opening doors to great futures for the kids who need us most, we are taking the lead with a plan that includes critical first steps for reversing the disturbing trends that are negatively affecting our young people.” 

Laying out BGCA’s Great Futures Impact Plan, Clark committed to:

  • Expanding academic support programs to ensure more kids stay on track to graduate and pursue college or post-graduation careers;
  • Aggressively increasing membership and daily attendance in Clubs to reach more young people more often; and
  • Reinforcing BGCA’s position as a leader in child safety and protection.

Supporting BGCA’s calls to action, Washington encouraged parents, educators and community leaders to collaborate in making education fun and extending learning opportunities beyond the school period – particularly the after-school time which he said was especially important to keep kids on track. Ashanti shared that her entire family worked at her hometown Boys & Girls Club in Glen Clove, N.Y., which she credits with providing the confidence, support and forum she needed to pursue a music career. And having received Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Champion of Youth honor that very morning, Phelps echoed the importance of child safety in all arenas, and profiled his work with BGCA to implement the im swim program to keep kids safe in and out of the water.

National Youth of the Year (YOY) Announcement
As proof of its effectiveness in helping kids chart their path to great futures, BGCA also introduced the new 2012-13 National Youth of the Year (YOY) winner. Trei Dudley is an incoming college freshman from the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kan., who has excelled in school and her community, despite such obstacles as domestic violence and poverty. Dudley received the honor this morning at a Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill, co-hosted by Senator Orrin Hatch and Representative Steny Hoyer. 

The oldest of eight children, Dudley turned to her Boys & Girls Club as a place where she could be a kid when she had to be a strong parental figure for her siblings at home. Through her local Club, Dudley also gave back to other kids in her communtiy -- as a volunter at the local Club, as well as a local soup kitchen and homeless shelter for families. She plans to use the YOY platform to empower other youth who are experiencing or witnessing domestic violence.

“This is my 20th year standing alongside Boys & Girls Clubs of America to support and advocate for the needs of our children,” said Denzel Washington. “I was honored to meet and celebrate with Trei and the YOY finalists. This Youth of the Year program is a shining example of the difference Boys & Girls Clubs make in the lives of millions of young people — and the great difference it made in my life.” 

Established in 1947, the title of National Youth of the Year is the highest honor Boys & Girls Clubs of America bestows on a Boys & Girls Club member. Sponsored by Tupperware Brands Corporation, the Youth of the Year program recognizes a teen Club member who has made outstanding contributions to his or her family, school, community and local Boys & Girls Club, while overcoming personal obstacles. 

As the new National Youth of the Year, Dudley receives $11,000 in college scholarships from Tupperware, up to $50,000 in scholarships from the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation and a new car from Toyota.  

“Hands down, this is the single happiest moment of my life,” said Dudley. “Like the other Youth of the Year finalists, my story could have turned out very different without the support, mentorship and safety of my Boys & Girls Club. I will forever treasure this experience and commit to representing Club members and the nation’s youth well.” 

“As CEO of a global company, I experience many great moments, but our annual Youth of the Year event is by far one of my favorites,” said Rick Goings, chairman and CEO, Tupperware Brands Corporation and chairman emeritus, BGCA Board of Governors. “Through Tupperware and the Rick and Susan Goings Foundation, I am honored to support an initiative that shows that the sky is the limit when our young people have the education, support and recognition they need to succeed.” 

To win the national title, Dudley bested Boys & Girls Club members from all over the U.S. and advanced through local, state and regional competitions in a journey that began earlier this year. In addition to the scholarships and prizes, Dudley will have the opportunity to join other Youth of the Year finalists at a congratulatory meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. 

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve nearly 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military youth and families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clubs 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. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at bgca.org/facebook and bgca.org/twitter. 

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