For 15 years, the Youth Awards have honored Latino high school rising-seniors, in at least 10 markets, who have excelled in the classroom and community, and for their focus in various categories including STEM, Healthcare, Education, Green, Business and Finance, Arts, and Fitness. The Youth Awards program is the beginning of the HHF pipeline and identifies and vets the young leaders who are funneled into the Leadership Cycle as they transition from high school, to college and grad school, and into their careers.
Youth Awards Regions include: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York/Philadelphia/New Jersey, Phoenix, San Jose/San Francisco-Bay Area, Washington, DC, (Regions can be added in 2013 depending on sponsors and currently Boston and San Juan Puerto Rico are being considered).
The Youth Awards begin in June with a high-profile, national search through social media, celebrity-based multi-media campaign, partnership with over 5,000 high schools and hundreds of colleges, media partners, elected officials, and businesses and community organizations. Hard-copy posters and promotional materials with sponsor logos are also distributed through HHF retail partners.
Approximately 10,000 applications are collected in June from qualified rising seniors in high school and recipients are chosen in October by noted selection committees in each of the 10 regions. The average GPA for the Youth Awardees is above a 3.75 with hundreds of hours of community service, patents on their innovations, published articles, established nonprofits and start-up companies, etc.
From October - end of year, students receive awards in the categories (three students per category in each of the 10 regions) during a high-profile celebration at partner universities in front of influential audiences of 150 – 200 community and business leaders, elected officials, parents and students, and surprise guests which have included President Obama, Laura Bush, Members of Congress, Black Eyed Peas, Pitbull and America Ferrera.
The students receive grants for education or for community projects to encourage social innovation and entrepreneurship. After the regional awards, one student is selected as national recipients in each of the categories and celebrated at National Youth Awards ceremony (location varies across US) with a celebrity also receiving the Inspira award for serving as role models. Previous Inspira recipients include America Ferrera and William Levy. The Inspira Award recipient also serves as the spokesperson for HHF’s youth programs.
The Youth Awardees, and the 10,000 applicants are fed into the Latinos On Fast Track (LOFT) leadership and workforce development program as they graduate from high school, attend college, and enter the workforce as well as remaining connected to their communities. For a brief video featuring the young leaders visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1UUfAjgbmw.