Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago's live-streamed virtual Youth of the Year Competition was a resounding success! Nearly 500 guests watched the March 4 event, hosted by BGCC board member and WGN anchor, Micah Materre. Six remarkable finalists presented powerful speeches, the culmination of a months-long application and preparation process. Join us in congratulating our 2021 Youth of the Year: Sammantha C. from the True Value Club!

High school sophomore Sammantha impressed the judges with her demonstration of leadership at her Club and in her family. For the past five years, Sammantha has been an outstanding member of the Keystone Club, BGCC's leadership development program. Outside of the Club, she mentors elementary school youth as a dance instructor.

Sammantha's speech highlighted her commitment to service, her power to overcome adversity, and her extraordinary creativity and resilience. Like so many of the finalists, Sammantha exemplifies BGCC's mission-in-action and speaks to the bright futures of Chicago's youth. Sammantha aspires to be a social worker in hopes of guiding youth to finding their inner strength and resolve.

"A home isn't always where you sleep at night," Sammantha said in her speech. "It can be a place where you love being … the Club is my second home, my escape and my toolbox to a successful future."

Joining Sammantha on the virtual stage was an incredible group of finalists, including Claudia D., Mariana M., Samantha B., Trinity E. and Yanelli C.

Each finalist received several amazing prizes, including a new laptop courtesy of CDW, a leather carryall tote bag from Best of Seven, Chicago White Sox memorabilia from the team, a personalized Chicago Bulls jersey from the team, and a $1,000 Craig Martin Scholarship to support their educational pursuits.

The Youth of the Year event also featured the announcement of the second annual McCartin Family Service Award recipient. Jacky L. of the Valentine Club received this one-time scholarship of $10,000 for his extraordinary work serving and supporting younger Club members. Jacky plans to use the scholarship to study engineering in college next year, as he works toward a career in improving mass transit systems.

Next up, Sammantha will proudly represent Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago at the Youth of the Year Illinois State Finals. Please join us in cheering her on, remembering that her story of perseverance and hope is just one of many from youth like her served across the city.

Here’s a snapshot of coverage of Youth of the Year in the news:

ABC 7 Chicago

FOX 32 Chicago

WGN Chicago