In September, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) named Jocelyn Woods, from the Silicon Valley Club, the 2016-2017 National Youth of the Year; the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive.
Jocelyn joined her Boys & Girls Club at age five. Living in a community where drugs, crime and gangs were rampant, Jocelyn found stability behind her Club’s blue door. It provided her positive, caring relationships with adults who showed her that her past did not have to dictate her future.
“The Club has always been my home; a place that I could count on to feel safe and supported by people who love and care about me, even when the actual place that I lived did not meet those standards,” said Woods. “As National Youth of the Year, I want to make sure kids and teens across this great nation know that there is a safe place, like a Boys & Girls Club, in their local community where they can learn to lead, succeed and inspire.”
Jocelyn learned computer coding skills at her Club, helping her secure internships and even develop her own photo sharing app. She also has dedicated herself to helping teens who are struggling with the same issues she faced, going so far as to spend a week in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco to better understand homelessness. Jocelyn also founded the Underrepresented Teenagers Advocacy Program (UTAP), a nonprofit that connects Bay-area teens in need with available services.
Jocelyn plans to study journalism at University of Southern California and become a journalist, lawyer and entrepreneur.
As Youth of the Year, Jocelyn will serve as the official spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Within the next year, she and the five other National Youth of the Year finalists will go to the White House for an exclusive meeting with the President of the United States. Additionally, she has been awarded $145,000 in scholarships and a brand new Toyota Corolla, along with $5,000 to pay for gas and insurance.
Congratulations to Jocelyn and the many BGCA youth, who represented their Clubs as local and regional Youth of the Year. We are proud to support you and the Youth of the Year program!