Many are fighting hunger in their local communities. Some created programs that encourage young women to consider STEM careers. Others are leading initiatives to support people with physical or intellectual disabilities.
Those are just some stories of the 102 youth volunteers – two from each state and the District of Columbia – who were named State Honorees by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service. Read the names and stories of this year's honorees at http://spirit.prudential.com.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Each of the 102 State Honorees will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018.
In addition to the State Honorees, the program's judges recognized 234 students nationwide as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion. Nearly 500 other applicants were awarded Certificates of Excellence for their volunteer work.
Many of this year's State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists were recognized for their work supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of their peers. Several are serving as first responders with volunteer fire and EMT departments, and a few collected stuffed animals to comfort children in traumatic situations. A number of these top youth volunteers led large-scale campaigns to collect and distribute food for people in need, and a few raised money for hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
"Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. "We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same."
"These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they've served – they also set an important example for their peers," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "These honorees prove that you're never too young to make a difference."
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital's landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2018. Each of these National Honorees will receive:
- a $5,000 award
- a gold medallion
- a crystal trophy for their nominating school or organization, and
- a $5,000 Prudential Foundation grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice
Since the program began in 1995, more than 120,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China, Brazil and Poland. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President's Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.