February 13, 2023
Naja'Ray West, 17-year-old community organizer and Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club leader, wins esteemed Youth of the Year title and $2,000 scholarship
Denver, CO (February 13, 2023) – Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver is excited to announce that Naja’Ray West has been named Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s 2023 Youth of the Year City Winner. Youth of the Year is a 75-year-old, highly-esteemed national leadership program through Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Nominees demonstrate outstanding character and leadership skills within their Clubs daily. In order to be considered, Club members compose essays, secure letters of recommendation, and provide transcripts with proof of excellent grades — all of which undergo rigorous scrutiny by judges from Boys & Girls Clubs staff, board members, and Denver business and community leaders. Club members with top submissions meet with the panel of judges to be interviewed and give a prepared speech. The winners at each of Metro Denver’s 20 Clubs compete for the coveted “City Winner” title. These winners have the opportunity to proceed to State and Regionals before competing for National Youth of the Year.
Of West’s win, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s CEO, Erin Porteous, said, “Naja’Ray has taken advantage of every opportunity and resource her Club and community have to offer, and I am so inspired by her achievements. She brings the same joy, confidence, and optimism to challenge and triumph alike, and puts a smile on the face of everyone she encounters. I look forward to witnessing her continued growth and leadership.”
West, 17, has been a member of Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Clubs since she was six years old. She participates in several high school and Club sports teams and serves as president of the Keystone Club, a city-wide, Boys & Girls Club community service organization. In summer 2020, West and her fellow Club member, Nashara Ellerbee, launched March for Peace in response to the violence in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood. The now-annual event features a 5k race, a fitness carnival, locally-made food, and over 500 attendees. The March for Peace, currently in its third year, is led by West and Ellerbee, and supported by Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos Foundation, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver.
“Ray-Ray has been a Boys & Girls Club kid since age 6, growing up in the club and developing into a smart, strong, inspiring young woman. Whereas the Club used to give to Ray-Ray, now she is in a position where she gives to the Club and the kids around her, making the Club and everyone in it better due to her leadership and vision,” Liz Jeralds, Denver Broncos Director of Community Development said.
After her upcoming 2023 high-school graduation, West hopes to continue her passion for cosmetology and start her own business. West’s next step as City Youth of the Year will be to attend the Colorado’s state Youth of the Year judging on April 20.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver changes lives. From the first day of kindergarten through high school graduation, we help kids succeed in school, develop good character and citizenship, and live healthy lives. At more than 20 neighborhood Clubs and our summer camp in Ward, CO, we provide our members with safe, supportive, fun, and enriching environments that inspire and empower them to achieve their greatest potential.