Malachi Haynes from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver receives $100K scholarship, will serve as national spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Selected among six outstanding finalists from Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, Malachi Haynes from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver has been named the 2018-2019 National Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Founded more than seventy years ago in 1947 as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club.
At the National Youth of the Year Celebration event in Washington D.C., Haynes was presented with a $25,000 college scholarship renewable for up to four years, leading to a total of $100,000. Haynes was selected as the National Youth of the Year because of his perseverance, leadership and commitment to his Club and community. As the National Youth of the Year, Malachi will serve as a spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America representing four million Club kids and teens.
“I am forever grateful to the Boys & Girls Club for having a Club in my neighborhood, and providing positive alternatives to how I spend my time,” Haynes said. “Life can change in an instant, especially for youth, and I thank the Club staff for allowing me to spend my ‘instances’ inside those doors becoming a better person – rather than taking my chances with all the risks that unsupervised life brings. Being a Club member has saved my life in that sense.”
Haynes grew up in a neighborhood and community that often lacks positive role models and opportunities for youth. He witnessed former friends and neighbors make poor decisions, like joining gangs and engaging in violent crimes. After joining his local Club, Haynes was determined to become part of the solution as a leader that kids in his community could admire and emulate.
Haynes noticed that many African-American youth were often two to three reading levels below their grade level. He created a program called “Double Trouble” to help motivate and encourage these kids while offering extra tutoring support. He and a close friend at the Club would lead individual or small group reads and work on comprehension once a week. As part of the program, Haynes promised the kids an hour of physical activity in return for an hour of reading and studying, hence the name “Double Trouble.”
“Because of the program, every single student improved their literacy level, and I noticed they began to look to us for guidance outside of reading,” Haynes said.
In addition to academic success, Haynes is passionate about drug and alcohol prevention. He led a Red Ribbon Day through his Club, in which members made a pledge to abstain from substance abuse.
“I know it will take leaders to engage the community and help the members recognize the potential they have, and I plan to be one of those leaders,” Haynes said.
Haynes has maintained a high grade point average while undertaking advanced course work, in addition to all his Club and community involvement. Haynes is now in his freshman year at Colorado State University and hopes to be the first member of his family to receive a degree from a four-year university. He plans to pursue a degree and future career in kinesiology or sports medicine.
“I have failed plenty of times throughout my life, whether it is on tests, in debate competitions, or small things in life, but I refuse to let those failures define me,” Haynes said. “I will continue to lead, persevere, and work hard so I can leave an impactful legacy on this world.”
The Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by The Walt Disney Company, who has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota is the Signature Sponsor of the national Youth of the Year program.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit youthoftheyear.org.