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2016 Citywide Youth of the Year

Congratulations to Ebony Moody for being named the Charles Schwab 2016 Citywide Youth of the Year! As Citywide Youth of the Year, Ebony earns a $10,000 scholarship and she will move on to compete in the Norther California Regional Youth of the Year competition.


About The Program

The Youth of the Year Program is a four-month long leadership development program that celebrates the remarkable lives of Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco members who have distinguished themselves by rising above challenging circumstances.

Finalists are chosen from their Club site and Camp Mendocino based on moral character, community involvement, academic achievements, and obstacles that they have overcome.

To view all 2015 Youth of the Year finalist speeches, click here.

The Timeline

From October 2015 to January 2016, the Youth of the Year are involved in an intense leadership development program that involves public speaking, one-on-one mentorship, essay writing, and team building. And with the help of our caring staff and volunteers, these youth grow and flourish into confident leaders with inspirational visions and goals for their futures.

At the final event, each youth will tell their stories to more than 600 BGCSF friends and supporters at The Westin St. Francis.

The winner of BGCSF’s Youth of the Year competition moves on to compete in the Northern California Regional competition against other well-accomplished youth in the region. The judging criterion for the event consists of public speaking, one on one interview, service to Club and community and academic achievement.

yoy2015_luncheon_hires_022315_8_web

Feb. 2015 Youth of the Year at the Charles Schwab Youth of the Year Luncheon.

The History & Prestige

The Youth of the Year program was founded more then 60 years ago through the generosity of the Reader’s Digest Foundation. Since 1947, the National Youth of the Year program has served as the primary vehicle for showcasing the exemplary achievements of Club youth. The Youth of the Year program has afforded hundreds of outstanding Club members an opportunity to meet presidents like Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. In addition, each year’s five regional finalists are honored at a congressional breakfast in Washington D. C.

As the voice for some 3.3 million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs, National Youth of the Year winners appear before congressional committees to speak on teen issues, participate in town hall meetings, appear on television and news programs and serve as ambassadors for other youth organizations. In addition to these prestigious duties, former Youth of the Year continue to play active roles in their local Boys & Girls Clubs communities. Previous winners have excelled in every aspect of the private sector, serving as doctors, lawyers, news reporters, Peace Corps volunteers, politicians and civic leaders in their communities.


Photos of our Youth of the Year

#YOY2016 Camp Retreat

Youth participated in a two-day intensive retreat at Camp Mendocino, where they overcame fears to help each other climb a challenge course, shared their toughest life experiences and proudest achievements, and strengthened their public speaking skills and essay skills through intensive workshops led by BGCSF coaches and staff.


#YOY2016

Check back for photos of our Youth of the Year during program workshops, one-on-one sessions with their coaches and participating in fun events like attending a Golden State Warriors game and being filmed by a CNN crew!


CLICK on a photo below for a Q/A from each Youth of the Year.

Mark Chou

Tenderloin Clubhouse

Mark is a junior at Lowell High School. He’s participated in Club programs like Torch Club, Money Matters, Teen Night, Healthy Relationships and College Prep. After graduation, Mark plans to attend a four-year college or university.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement right now is being a Youth of the Year. Even though I'm still moving through this process, being nominated is something to be proud of. Everyone around me is so supportive and proud.

What are you most excited about for the Youth of the Year Program?

I'm excited to meet new people and makes friends with the other Youth of the Year because they're going through the same process as me, and I definitely feel like we're all a community of Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco.

Please describe one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome and how you overcame it.

A challenge that I had to overcome was understanding that education was important. I struggled during my freshman year and I didn't really get it together. With the help of Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco, I understood that education is something key to my life.

How does it feel to be nominated Youth of the Year?

I feel very proud because I've been going to my Clubhouse, the Tenderloin, for about five years, and meeting all the past Youth of the Year winners has really pushed me to want to be Youth of the Year, and now I am.

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Mark Chou

Mark Chou

Tenderloin Clubhouse

Omar Flenoid, Jr.

Don Fisher Clubhouse

Omar is a senior at Sacred Heart Cathedral and he’s been a Club member for 11 years. Omar is the first Don Fisher Clubhouse Youth of the Year, with the Clubhouse opening in early 2015. Omar has participated in programs including Keystone Club and Money Matters, as well as emceeing BGCSF’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony at Gap Inc. Headquarters. When he’s older, Omar would like to become an anesthesiologist.

What is something people may not know about you when they first meet you?

I'm pretty sure people wouldn't think I want to be a doctor when they first see me, but I love science and math. I plan to become an anesthesiologist in the future.

Please describe one of the biggest challenges you had to overcome.

My biggest challenge was during my 7th grade year when my grandmother passed away. She was like my mom. My mom was in my life, but my grandma was like my second mom. It was bumpy for me during school when she first passed away, but then eventually as time went on, I started thinking to myself, "I should just start doing stuff for me and her, because she probably wouldn't want me to stay down."

What is your proudest achievement?

Attending Sacred Heart is my proudest achievement so far in life. My grandma wanted me to attend that school before she passed away. That's what made me strive so hard in middle school to attend Sacred Heart.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

I've been around the Club all my life. The Club basically raised me when I became a Club member at age 6. I love the staff; they've always been good to me. For example, Ms. Colleen, who worked at the Treasure Island Clubhouse, helped me a lot at the Club when I had problems with homework.

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Omar Flenoid, Jr.

Omar Flenoid, Jr.

Don Fisher Clubhouse

Sierra Espinoza

Excelsior Clubhouse

Sierra has been a Club member for 10 years. She’s participated in Club programs like Keystone Club, Money Matters and Power Hour. Her university of choice is to attend San Francisco State University.

How does it feel to be nominated for Youth of the Year?

It feels pretty great because it makes me feel good as a person knowing that there are people out there that believe that I could be successful in life knowing that I came from a tough background.

Please describe one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome?

One of the biggest challenges I had in life was convincing myself that I could be whatever I want, even if there was no one on my side supporting me. Even though I like the support, I've noticed that either way, at the end of day, I still have to depend on myself.

What are your future goals in life?

I'd like to become a social worker or a lawyer. My goal is to either go to college in Atlanta or somewhere in San Francisco.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

The staff that actually makes me feel like the Boys and Girls Club is a home is Tone Moreno*. He's one of my big role models because he motivates me to go to school and complete my homework. Knowing that he believes in me and advocated for me to be Youth of the Year, makes me feel very proud.

*Antonio "Tone" Moreno is the high school services director at Excelsior Clubhouse.

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Sierra Espinoza

Sierra Espinoza

Excelsior Clubhouse

Joanna Ruiz-Perez

Columbia Park Clubhouse

Joanna is a senior at John O’Connell High School. She’s been a Club member for seven years and participated in programs like Money Matters, Teen Staff, Career Launch and Girls Got Goals, an all-female soccer league for Club members. In college, she plans to major in culinary arts or psychology.

What are you most excited for about the YOY Program?

I'm excited to make connections and make new friends with the other Youth of the Year because I don't often have the chance to go to other Clubhouses.

How does it feel to be nominated Youth of the Year?

Being nominated made me feel happy and nervous. It's such a great thing to represent your Clubhouse, but there are also going to be challenges along the way.

What is something people may not know about you when first meet you?

I've been told I look really shy. Once I get to know people, I feel a lot more comfortable and I'm able to feel normal and not shy away from people.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

The Club is amazing, honestly. It's a great place; a safe environment for everyone to come hang out, and you get a lot of help from people in the Club. They become a big part of your life and they're kind of like family.

 

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Joanna Ruiz-Perez

Joanna Ruiz-Perez

Columbia Park Clubhouse

Ebony Moody

Camp Mendocino

At Camp Mendocino, Ebony participated in the Camp2College program and Leaders in Training (LIT) program, a Youth Workforce Development program for teens ages 15-17. After graduating high school, she plans to attend a four-year college or university and become a social worker to help change laws affecting foster youth.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

I hope to gain great life learned lessons from my coaches and the other Youth of the Year, as well as self-realization in this program to help shape myself as a leader.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement so far in life is how far I've come with my education. Not everyone gets the opportunity to finish high school. I feel like graduating high school is the start of a journey and sets out what we're going to do later in life.

What is something people may not know about you when they first meet you?

I feel like I'm really wise beyond my years. My past experiences--some good, some bad--have helped mold me as a person, and it's those experiences that drive me to keep striding.

What do you like about Boys and Girls Club programs and their staff?

I love the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco. I feel like they help connect a lot of youth with a lot of great adults. Once you're with the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, you're automatically there for success.

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Ebony Moody

Ebony Moody

Camp Mendocino

Lourdes Juarez

KIPP

Lourdes is a junior at KIPP San Francisco College Preparatory. She has participated in Club programs like Cooking Club, Keystone Club and Career Connect @BGCSF. After graduation, she would like to attend college to study criminology or science.

What do you hope to get out of the program?

I hope to be able to build strong connections with the people I'm working with, but also strengthen connections I already have. I also want to be able to work on leadership I know I need to develop such as public speaking, and also skills I do have like cooperation and just being able to have a positive attitude. I want to be able to hone in on those and be able to make them better.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement would be being the founding class of KIPP, because we just started three years ago, and I feel that it's one of my proudest achievements because it's one thing that I know none of my siblings can say they have. As a founding class, we're able to build the culture of the school, and we say what we like instead of, "This is how the school works."

What are your future plans or goals in life?

I would say one goal I really have is becoming a forensic scientist. That's something I've always wanted to become, mainly because of watching a lot of crime shows. I really feel that being a forensic scientist is something that I want to do because I just find it really fascinating, how they're able to solve crimes that happened 10 years ago, 20 years ago.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

One thing I really like is they give you the opportunity and the things you need in order to be successful, and be your own person. It's a lot different from school because in school there's a lot of rules, like "Oh you have to respect me, you have to sit quietly, you have to do what I say." At the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, you have to be respectful, but they also give you the opportunity to be like, "We want to hear your opinion, and we want to know what you feel like you need in order to be successful."

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Lourdes Juarez

Lourdes Juarez

KIPP

Guadalupe C.

Mission Clubhouse

Guadalupe has been a Club member for 11 years. She’s participated in Club programs including Teen Staff, Career Launch, Money Matters, and Healthy Relationships. After graduation, she plans to attend a four-year college or university and major in psychology.

Please describe one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome.

One of the biggest challenges that I had to overcome was an emotional challenge. I had problems expressing myself emotionally. I had a fear of crying because I felt like it was a sign of weakness. When I started going to the Boys and Girls Clubs as a teenager, I opened up. I learned how to cry, how to really express myself and how not to be afraid. The Clubhouse is my safety zone.

What is your proudest achievement?

Besides winning Youth Of the Year, I want to say getting into Lowell [High School], because I never expected it. I kind of doubted myself, but my mom really believed in me. The fact that my mom believed in me, it really pushed me to also believe in myself because I doubted myself a lot.

How does it feel to be nominated Youth Of The Year?

It feels really great to be nominated since I've seen a lot of other Club members at my Clubhouse being nominated, it's something that I always wanted to do, to also win. It's an honor at my Clubhouse and it's a really big thing, so it feels really good.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

I love everything about Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco because has really shaped me into who I am. The Clubhouse staff makes sure that every member is okay--not just physically but emotionally, too. That's a very important thing that a lot of people don't get at home or somewhere else.

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Guadalupe C.

Guadalupe C.

Mission Clubhouse

Johnny Hall

Visitacion Valley Clubhouse

Johnny has been a Club member for four and a half years. He’s participated in Club programs including Keystone Club, Art and Teen Staff. After graduation, Johnny plans to attend a four-year university and major in medicine.

What is something people may not know about you when they first meet you?

Something people may not know about me when they first meet me is that I love to draw. Drawing is my passion. I'm really good with color theory.

How does it feel to be nominated Youth of the Year?

I've witnessed past Youth of the Year come and go, and I feel that the Club is ready for me to take on this torch. I'm ready to be Youth of the Year.

What are your future plans or goals in life?

I want to become a pediatrician, but I also want to major in art. I want to create a children's book that has to do with human anatomy.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was during middle school when I applied to create my class yearbook cover. I submitted a design I made up by myself, without any help. My work was chosen to be the front cover of my yearbook.

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Johnny Hall

Johnny Hall

Visitacion Valley Clubhouse

Ilana Fale

Willie Mays Clubhouse

Ilana has been a Club member for four years. Ilana has participated in Club programs like Money Matters and Formal Mentorship. Ilana, who is an avid reader, plans to attend a four-year college after graduating high school.

Please describe one of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome.

My biggest challenge that I've had to overcome is when my oldest brother passed away at the end of my 10th grade year. Going into the 11th grade year was difficult without him. The support from my family really helped me a lot during that time.

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement is making it to my senior year in high school. I feel good about my 12th grade year; I feel like I'm going to go out with a bang.

What do you hope to get out of the YOY Program?

I really hope to make connections with the other Youth of the Year and my coach. I've never met the other Youth of the Year before the program, and I hope I can build a life relationship with them.

What do you like about BGCSF programs and staff?

In Bayview-Hunters Point, there are not a lot of programs for kids to go to after school. Many kids go home or get into nonsense in their neighborhood. The staff at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco are there with open arms and they make me want to come back to the Club.

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Ilana Fale

Ilana Fale

Willie Mays Clubhouse

Videos

#YOY2016 on CNN
carrie_schwab2

Watch the video on CNN

#YOY2016 Meet the Finalists

#YOY2015 One Year Later

Learn where last year’s Youth of the Year finalists are now.


Make A Donation


Presenting Sponsor:

charles_schwab

Reception Sponsor:

blackrock

Youth Champions:

Dana & Bob Emery
Jason & Jessica Moment

Platinum Sponsors:

Mrs. Donald Fisher
Guittard Chocolate Company
Stephanie & Bill Mellin
Robert Smith
Laurie & Jeff Ubben
Diana & Steve Strandberg

Gold Sponsors:

Brandon & Sapna Boze
David & Susan Cumming
EY
Julie & Greg Flynn
Golden State Warriors
Rocky Fried & Ali Klein
Meridee Moore & Kevin King
Ken Olivier & Angela Nomellini
United Airlines
Visa

Silver Sponsors:

Clark Construction
Susan & Mitchell Cohen
Cathy & Sandy Dean
Dodge & Cox
Eastdil Secured
LBA Realty
Sand Hill Global Advisors, LLC
Sports Basement

Bronze Sponsors:

Chris & Catherine Clifford
Columbia Property Trust
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Cushman & Wakefield
Golob Family Fund
Lautze & Lautze
Jennifer Steinmann & Alexei Yaroshenko
JLL
Pircher, Nichols & Meeks
PwC
Spencer Stuart
State Street Bank
Strada Investment Group
Sweet & Baker Insurance Brokers, Inc.

Venue Partner:

The Westin St. Francis

MediaPartner:

San Francisco Business Times