Thursday night at the Beverly Hills Hilton, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the nation’s leading youth non-profit organization, named Asha H-R. its 2022-2023 National Youth of the Year in a star-studded 75th anniversary celebration ceremony, sponsored by Toyota, Kohl’s and Mondelēz International.
Typically held in Washington D.C., this year marked the organization’s first debut in Los Angeles, gathering honorable Boys & Girls Clubs alumni, staff, partners and celebrity supporters at the culminating celebration of teens awarded on the local, state and regional levels throughout the year. Asha H-R. was selected among six finalists to receive the prestigious honor of the National title, representing over 4 million youth in Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation.
At nine years old, Asha quickly found a sense of community at her local Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, calling it her “chosen home” ever since. “My Club wasn’t just a safe, affordable after-school option for my parents, it opened up doors of possibility and shut the windows of my insecurities. The table was set, and I had a seat, not because of who I was, but because of who I was becoming,” she said.
Often being recognized for her outstanding work in leadership, volunteering and advocacy, she found a special passion for addressing the issue of food insecurity with local food pantries in the Washington metropolitan area. In fact, in the last year, Asha served meals to over 400 families a week, reminding her that she can always make a local impact on global issues.
“I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that all our young people are getting an equitable experience when it comes to career opportunities, food insecurity and education.” – Asha H-R., 2022-2023 National Youth of the Year
Aspiring to be the future President of the United States, Asha is studying public affairs and is working closely with the D.C. City Council to address key issues in her local community and beyond.
“I am honored to be recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America as the 2022-2023 National Youth of the Year,” said Asha. “This role presents me with an opportunity to not only represent kids and teens across the nation, but to exemplify what’s possible when young people are given access to safe spaces, caring mentors and life-enhancing experiences that empower us to reach our full potential. I know I am capable of anything that lies ahead and I am determined to make a difference.”
The evening included a performance from American Idol winner and Grammy-nominated singer, Ruben Studdard, who sang with youth from Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield, and honored country music artist and Boys & Girls Clubs of America supporter, Kane Brown, with the “2022 Champion of Youth Award” in recognition of his commitment to serving young people. Other attendees and advocates included Emmy Award-winning actor Courtney B. Vance, Entertainment Tonight co-host Nischelle Turner, American singer and songwriter Miguel, WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and The Miz and Oscar-award-winning costume designer and Boys & Girls Clubs alumna, Ruth Carter.
Toyota and Kohl’s are the Signature Sponsors of Youth of the Year, sharing a dedication to providing great futures for young people. With this support, The National Youth of the Year will also be provided with a Toyota Corolla, financial assistance from Toyota for ongoing car expenses and a Kohl’s shopping experience to prepare them for life beyond the Club.
Toyota is committed to partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to support life-enhancing opportunities for kids and teens to explore, develop and apply the essential skills they need to be successful in life and work, providing scholarships to local Clubs. Kohl’s is committed to partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to ensure local Clubs provide staff training and curriculum updates focused on trauma-informed care, building mental health and wellbeing practices kids and teens will need to build great futures.
As the Lead Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Mondelēz International, will engage with local Clubs year-round to help foster a new generation of leaders prepared to live in and lead a diverse global economy.
National Youth of the Year is also made possible through the support of Diamond Sponsors Leesa & Martin Romo, Steve & Barbara Layton, Sandy & Tim Armour and Platinum Sponsors Curtis & Christine Gardner, Family Dollar, Fox Sports, Papa John’s Foundation, Roth Capital Partners and The Capital Group.
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program for Club teens. As the highest honor a Club member can receive, the National Youth of the Year represents Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the voices of over four million Club youth it serves. For 75 years, the Youth of the Year program has recognized young people for their outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence, and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle.