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Boys & Girls Clubs Military Youth of the Year Program4 minute read • Oct. 2, 2023
When my mom insisted that I visit the youth center, I was so nervous. I remember her telling me that this is where other military-connected teens go, so I decided to give it a chance. Immediately upon walking into the building, I was confronted with so much positive energy and excitement around me. The atmosphere was unlike any place I’ve ever been to.
– Xavier B. 2023 National Military Youth of the Year
The Defense Department is committed to supporting the overall well-being of military families and offers a variety of programs and services to help military-connected youth and teens navigate the challenges of military life and thrive. From education and arts classes to recreation, fitness, leadership and workforce development, youth centers offer youth and teens a place to connect with peers and mentors, build confidence and learn the skills they need to live their best lives.
For more than 30 years, the DOD has partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to offer additional support programs at youth centers in military installations across the world. Continuity of programming between installations can help children, youth and teens feel part of the military community and make the transition to a new installation smoother.
Looking for youth and teen programs?
Use the locator tool on MilitaryINSTALLATIONS to find out about youth and teen programs near you.
Since 1947, BGCA has hosted a Youth of the Year program to recognize 14-18-year-olds for exceptional character, citizenship, academic success and community service. In 2013, the Military Youth of the Year program was started to celebrate outstanding military-connected youth and teens.
Military Youth of the Year overview
Military-connected teens who have demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments and are prepared to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood can compete in installation, state and regional competitions. The National Military Youth of the Year winner advances to a final round joining five regional Youth of the Year winners from traditional Boys & Girls Clubs to compete for the honor of National Youth of the Year.
Military Youth of the Year highlights
The Military Youth of the Year program offers scholarships and recognition opportunities for military-connected teens.
Military Youth of the Year scholarships include:
- State Military Youth of the Year winners each receive a $2,500 scholarship and participate in regional competitions. Six regional Military Youth of the Year winners each receive $20,000 (for a total award of $22,500 from the state and regional levels).
- The National Military Youth of the Year winner will receive $20,000 (for a total award of $42,500 from the state, regional and national levels).
- The National Youth of the Year receives a $25,000 scholarship, renewable for four years up to $100,000.
The National Military Youth of the Year advances to the National Youth of the Year competition, and also serves a one-year term as the military youth spokesperson for the Defense Department, the military services and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
How to apply
For information about eligibility, application deadlines and state event dates, contact your installation youth center.
For more information about the Military Youth of the Year program, download this Military Youth of the Year fact sheet.
Visit Boys & Girls Clubs for more information about the overall National Youth of the Year program.
Military Youth of the Year video
Listen to military youth talk about the powerful, positive impact youth centers and programs like Military Youth of the Year have had on their lives.
I wouldn’t be the person that I am now without being in this program. I’m so much more confident, proud of who I am, proud of the people I’ve met, proud of my story.
– Ahsha B. 2022 National Military Youth of the Year
Learn more about military youth programs and centers
Military youth centers and programs offer an array of recreational and educational opportunities for military-connected youth. From STEM, art and music activities to sports, summer camps, leadership and workforce development, there is something for youth of all interests and abilities. Learn more about military youth and teen programs.
The youth center has always been there with volunteering events or just different events to bring families together. The youth center is a huge help with everything in the military…You always know you have a second family to go to.
– Madison E., Offut Air Force Base Youth Programs
If you have questions about installation child and youth programs or need help locating resources in your community, Military OneSource consultants are available 24/7 to answer your questions and help connect you with the support you need. Call 800-342-9647, use international dialing options or schedule a live chat.