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Character and Leadership Development

Helping youth become responsible, caring citizens and acquire skills for participating in the democratic process is the main thrust of these programs. They empower youth to support and influence their Club and community, sustain meaningful relationships with others, develop a positive self image and good character, and respect their own and others' cultural identities. Club programs include the National Youth of the Year Recognition Program, and the Torch and Keystone Clubs.

Maleah 2019 Youth of the Year Dinner

Youth of the Year

Established in 1947, The National Youth of the Year Program is the 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. Local Clubs recognize members ages 14 to 18 as Youth of the Month winners and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competitions. 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.

Torch club kids wearing their blue shirts smiling

Torch Club

Torch Clubs are chartered, small-group leadership and service clubs for boys and girls ages 11 to 13. Through this program, Club staff can help meet the special character development needs of younger adolescents at a critical stage in their life. Torch Club members learn to elect officers and work together to implement activities in four areas: service to Club and community; education; health and fitness; and social recreation.

Teens at Gardenfest

Keystone Club

This unique leadership development experience provides opportunities for young people ages 14 to 18. Youth participate, both in and out of the Club, in activities in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service. With the guidance of an adult advisor, Keystone Clubs aim to have a positive impact on members, the Club and community. If you have seen our teenagers out volunteering in our community, it was likely through their participation in the Keystone Club.