Community awards honors youth volunteers

Now through Tuesday, Nov. 5, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is looking for Missouri's top youth volunteers of the year.

Students in grades 5-12 are invited to apply for 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards if they have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service within the past 12 months. The application is available at http://spirit.prudential.com and www.nassp.org/spirit.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, was created in 1995 to recognize the exemplary volunteer work of middle level and high school students. Since then, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to more than 130,000 middle and high school students across the country at the local, state and national level.

“We’ve honored young people from three generations since this program began and while the world has changed many times over, one thing has stayed the same: young volunteers are doing remarkable, meaningful work to address the challenges facing their communities,” Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, said. “As we enter our 25th year, we remain inspired by these young people and their stories of service and hope they’ll inspire others to get involved, too.”

Missouri's top youth volunteers of 2019 were Shae Smith, 16, Bolivar, who created a campaign called “Catching The Curve” to raise awareness of scoliosis, prevent spinal deformities through early screening, and boost the confidence of people living with this condition; and Chloe Christensen, 14, Lake Lotawana, who has collected and donated approximately 50,000 pairs of shoes and $1,000 to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that sends shoes around the globe to children and adults who can’t afford footwear. Read more about Shae and Chloe at http://spirit.prudential.com/honorees/2019/mo.

To apply for a 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, students and certifiers must complete the following steps.

• Students complete the online application by Tuesday, Nov. 5.

• Students then submit the application for certification to their principal or head of a local participating organization.

• Certifiers review all applications for their school or organization, then select a local honoree to nominate for state-level judging by Friday, Nov. 15.

• Applications can be certified by a middle or high school principal or head of a Girl Scout council, county 4-H organization, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA or a Points of Light Global Network member. Students can request a paper application by calling (888) 651-2951.

The top middle level and high school volunteer from each state and the District of Columbia will be named state honorees Feb. 4, 2020. They will receive $1,000 scholarships, engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent or guardian for four days of recognition events, May 2-5, 2020.

In Washington, a distinguished national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 state honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of the year. These national honorees will receive additional $5,000 scholarships, gold medallions, crystal trophies for their nominating schools or organizations and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.

Several Distinguished Finalists in each state will receive bronze medallions, and runners-up will receive Certificates of Excellence. Local honorees selected by schools and participating organizations for state-level judging will be presented with Certificates of Achievement; and will also receive President’s Volunteer Service Awards if they have served the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (26 hours for age 10 and younger, 50 hours for ages 11-15 and 100 hours for older students).

“When students use their energy, compassion and initiative to improve the lives of others, they not only make a difference, they also set an important example for their peers,” JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP, said. “We’re proud to honor middle level and high school students who go above and beyond in their volunteer service.”

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