Eight-time Grammy Award winner, Gladys Knight, was also honored for her ongoing commitment to serving America’s youth.
NEW YORK CITY (October 6, 2023) – Last night at Cipriani South Street, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the nation’s leading youth non-profit organization, recognized Alejandra L. as its 2023-2024 National Youth of the Year in a star-studded evening, sponsored by Toyota, Kohl’s and Mondelēz International.
Following last year’s 75th anniversary gala in Los Angeles, the organization gathered Boys & Girls Clubs alumni, staff, partners and celebrity supporters in New York City, as the nation’s top teens selected at local, state and regional levels throughout the year, came together to vie for the prestigious National title. Alejandra took home the National Youth of the Year honor, earning her a role as the organization’s newest National teen spokesperson and advocate, representing over 3 million kids and teens across the nation.
Growing up as a first-generation Mexican American in the fast-growing town of McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, Alejandra quicky grew from a shy, sensitive child to a confident leader who is determined to serve her community. Raised by a hardworking single mother, she found inspiration in her mom's resilience as an immigrant, and through her involvement at Boys & Girls Club of McAllen, became inspired to advocate for essential resources and new policies.
Through her roles in student council, class treasurer, and student body president, Alejandra honed her leadership skills and managed budgets, preparing her for a future in public service and positioning her as a role model to teens nationwide.
“I am honored to be recognized as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2023-2024 National Youth of the Year,” said Alejandra. “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 opportunities to grow our passions. I know I am capable of anything that lies ahead, and I am determined to make a difference in my community and beyond.”
Emceed by NBC TODAY’s Craig Melvin and FOX sports reporter, Lindsay Czarniak, the evening included youth performances by Pearle from Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula the Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club dance team, and honored eight-time Grammy winner, Gladys Knight, with the “2023 Champion of Youth Award” in recognition of her unwavering commitment to serving kids and teens at Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide.
Additionally, several Boys & Girls Club alumni and advocates showed up to support the teens including National Youth of the Year ambassador and professional ballerina Misty Copeland, Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth Carter, Grammy award-winning entertainer Ashanti, WWE Superstars Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston, Hamilton the Musical’s Christopher Jackson and Good Morning America correspondent Will Reeve.
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 be awarded a new Toyota Corolla and financial assistance to support the first-time car buying experience and a Kohl’s shopping experience to prepare them for life beyond the Club.
As a founding Workforce Readiness partner, 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, as well as providing local Club members with the opportunity to receive scholarships to support them on their path towards a great future. 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 Major League Baseball (MLB), PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC) and Platinum Sponsors The Coca-Cola Company, Emily & Harold Ford Jr. and Family Dollar.
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 3 million Club youth it serves. For more than 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.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. Over 5,200 Clubs serve 3.3 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. The national headquarters is located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).
Director of Public Relations
Boys & Girls Clubs of America