Over the past 12 years, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to nearly 300 middle and high school students across Vermont for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, and serving their communities through many other volunteer activities. This week the search begins to identify more young Vermonters who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the prestigious awards program kicks off its 13th year.
These awards, presented nationwide by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honor outstanding community service by young people in grades 5 through 12.
“A surprising number of young people today are getting involved in serving their communities, but they’re not always recognized for the great things they are doing,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Arthur F. Ryan. “We want to tell them in the strongest possible terms how important their volunteer work is, and how proud we are of their accomplishments.”
This year, young volunteers can apply online through www.prudential.com/spirit or www.principals.org/prudential. Applications must be completed by October 31, 2007, then printed out, signed and submitted to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or a Volunteer Center belonging to the Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network. Those without Internet access can get a paper version of the application form by calling 877-525-8491 toll-free.
Participating schools and local organizations will select Local Honorees in early November and present them with Certificates of Achievement. These Local Honorees also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation if they have contributed the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (50 hours for age 14 and younger, 100 hours for those older). All Local Honorees are then reviewed by a state-level judging committee, which will name the top two candidates from each state and the District of Columbia – one high school student and one middle level student – as State Honorees on February 12, 2008. These State Honorees will receive $1,000 awards, engraved silver medallions, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent for four days of recognition events May 3-6, 2008. Runners-up at the state level will receive bronze medallions or Certificates of Excellence.
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 awards of $5,000, 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.
Maya Robinson, 18, of Bethel and Audrey Pekarik, 13, of Underhill were Vermont's top youth volunteers for 2007. Maya, Vermont's top high school youth volunteer, was honored for creating an exhibit of photographs taken by 20 international exchange students over the past 35 years, to promote greater understanding of foreign cultures and the interconnectedness of people around the world. Audrey, Vermont's top middle level volunteer, was recognized for raising $3,000 to build a house for a needy family in Haiti by making and selling hand-made bracelets.
“Over the past 12 years, thousands of determined, thoughtful, and selfless young people have been recognized through the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards,” said Gerald Tirozzi, executive director of NASSP. “NASSP is proud to be a part of a program that publicly recognizes the efforts of these amazing young people and we hope that it serves to inspire young people everywhere to give back to their communities and become civically engaged.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on community service, and have honored more than 75,000 young volunteers at local, state and national levels since the program began in 1995. The program is part of a broad youth-service initiative by Prudential that includes a youth leadership training program administered by the Points of Light Foundation; a free booklet of volunteer ideas for young people offered through the Federal Citizen Information Center; and a Web site featuring profiles of outstanding youth volunteers, volunteer tips and project ideas for students, an electronic newspaper on youth volunteerism, and more (www.prudential.com/spirit). The Spirit of Community Awards program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Ireland.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals – the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders – provides its members with the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well-being of youth through its programs and student leadership services. NASSP administers the National Honor Society™, the National Junior Honor Society™ and the National Association of Student Councils™. For more information on NASSP, NHS, NJHS or NASC, visit www.principals.org.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader with approximately $648 billion of assets under management as of June 30, 2007, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. The company’s well-known Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential’s businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, asset management, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.prudential.com.