2013 - 2014 Youth of the Year – Kiana Knolland
GREAT FUTURES START HERE: BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA NAMES EXCEPTIONAL KANSAS TEEN NATIONAL YOUTH AMBASSADOR
Kiana Knolland receives top honor including $60,000 scholarship after year-long competition
[Washington, D.C.], [September 18th, 2013] – Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) announced today its national teen ambassador at a Congressional Breakfast, hosted by Luke Russert, in Washington, D.C. Kiana Knolland of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas in Wichita, Kans. has been named the 2013-14 National Youth of the Year. She will serve as the official BGCA teen spokesperson, advocating for nearly 4 million Boys & Girls Club youth and all of America’s young people during her year of service. The honor recognizes youth who have overcome odds and demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments, and includes more than $60,000 in college scholarships from Tupperware Brands Corporation and The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation.
Kiana was named National Youth of the Year during the breakfast before celebrities and Congressional leaders, including National Youth of the Year Ambassador, ballet soloist and Club alumna Misty Copeland, whose role as ambassador serves to raise visibility for the program and the incredible young people it honors. Olympic gold medal snowboarder and Club alum Shaun White was honored at the breakfast as a Champion of Youth in recognition of his efforts in service and commitment to youth at Clubs across the country. Senator Susan Collins, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Senator Barbara Mikulski and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor co-hosted the Congressional Breakfast. In addition, at the event, BGCA signed the NASA Space Act Agreement, which recognizes the collaboration between BGCA and NASA to provide STEM and NASA-related resources to Clubs and kids. Congressman Chaka Fattah spoke about the importance of STEM education for youth before BGCA President and CEO Jim Clark signed the agreement with Leland Melvin, NASA Associate Administrator for Education and former two-time space shuttle astronaut who signed on behalf of the agency. Later today, Kiana and the five National Youth of the Year finalists will be joined by Misty Copeland and Shaun White for an exclusive meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.
Founded in 1947, the Youth of the Year program, sponsored by Tupperware Brands, recognizes outstanding young people for service to their Club and community, academic performance and contributions to their family. To win the national title, Kiana advanced through local, state and regional competitions. The year-long competition culminated in D.C. by naming the national honoree from six candidates – five regional finalists and BGCA’s first Military Youth of the Year. Announced during a reception on Sept. 13, the Military Youth of the Year will serve as a teen ambassador for kids of military families. Through a 22-year partnership with the military, BGCA provides services to help support the children of military personnel at BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide.
The highest honor a Boys & Girls Club youth can achieve, the National Youth of the Year receives $11,000 in college scholarships from program sponsor Tupperware Brands, plus a $50,000 scholarship from The Rick and Susan Goings Foundation, the personal foundation of Tupperware Brands CEO Rick Goings, who has been an active supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs for more 20 years, and his wife, Susan. The National Youth of the Year also received a new car from BGCA national partner Toyota. In addition, all six finalists received the first annual Shaun White Supply Co. (SWSC) Teen Leadership Awards for their demonstrated achievement in academic performance, leadership and service. The award consisted of a $1,000 scholarship and a personalized Supply Co. package, including a skateboard, bike and scooter.
“I'm so excited to be National Youth of the Year. I look forward to being the voice of Boys & Girls Club kids across the country, sharing my story and representing an organization that has had such a tremendous impact on who I am,” said Kiana Knolland, 2013-14 National Youth of the Year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Kiana overcame significant obstacles in her life and represents millions of young people whose lives begin to transform the day they enter a Boys & Girls Club. Growing up in a single-parent home, Kiana’s mother provided her with a great support system. But her mom’s health problems also made life difficult.
Since joining the Club at age 5, Kiana has been an active participant and leader - being a role model to younger peers, and giving back to her community. Kiana also belongs to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and chairs the Government & Legislative Affairs Committee of the Mayor’s Youth Council. Keenly focused on her future, Kiana is a freshman at Howard University pursuing a career in the legal field.
“I am very proud of the accomplishments of Kiana and all the YOY finalists. Each is living proof that great futures really do start at Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO, BGCA. “America's kids today are facing steep obstacles they must overcome to grow into productive adults. Kiana will serve as the youth voice to raise visibility for issues facing all kids and the ways we can come together to support them on the path to future success.”
Kiana’s fellow 2013 Youth of the Year finalists were: Martaluz Olang from Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford (Conn.); Jesse Friedman from Boys & Girls Clubs of South Oakland County (Mich.); Yossymar Rojas from Boys & Girls Clubs of Capistrano Valley (Calif.); Meeri Shin from Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland (Tenn.); and RaShaan Allen, Military Youth of the Year from Devers Youth Center on Ft. Knox (Ky.).
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.bgca.org/yoy.