WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Over the past 20 years, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards have been given to more than 115,000 middle and high school students across the country for helping people in need, raising awareness of worthy causes, addressing needs in their hometowns and many other volunteer activities. Today, the search begins to identify thousands more young people who have made meaningful contributions to their communities over the past 12 months, as the awards program kicks off its 21st year.
These awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honor outstanding community service by middle level and high school students at the local, state and national level.
A recent survey of 1,200 teens by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards revealed the virtuous cycle that young people encounter when they volunteer. Nine in 10 teens who volunteer said service makes them feel good about themselves, and that their participation leads to feeling needed (59 percent), feeling happier and less stressed (59 percent), and feeling more connected to people (54 percent). Compared to teenagers who did not volunteer, volunteers rated themselves an average of 15 points higher across a variety of traits, including independence, leadership, dependability, confidence and optimism.
The survey, which measured the attitudes of U.S. teenagers toward volunteering, was conducted this year in support of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards’ mission to promote volunteerism amongst middle and high school students. Compared to 20 years ago, when Prudential first surveyed teenagers about their attitudes toward volunteering, the number of teens who see volunteering as important has increased from 62 percent to 76 percent.
“The feeling of knowing that you truly have a hand in doing something that helps someone else…is great for your spirit,” one survey respondent said.
Applications for 2016 awards must be completed by November 3, 2015, and then submitted to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA or HandsOn Network affiliate. Paper versions of the application form are available by calling (877) 525-8491.
Participating schools and local organizations will select Local Honorees in early November and present them with Certificates of Achievement. These Local Honorees also will receive the President’s Volunteer Service Award if they have contributed the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (26 hours for age 10 and younger, 50 hours for ages 11-15 and 100 hours for older students). All Local Honorees are then reviewed by a state-level judging committee, which will name the top two candidates from each state and the District of Columbia – one high school student and one middle level student – as State Honorees on February 9, 2016. These State Honorees will receive $1,000 awards, engraved silver medallions, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., with a parent for four days of recognition events April 30-May 3, 2016. Runners-up at the state level will receive bronze medallions or Certificates of Excellence.
In Washington, a distinguished national selection committee will name 10 of the 102 State Honorees as America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. These National Honorees will receive $5,000, gold medallions, crystal trophies for their nominating schools or organizations, and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
“Every year for the past 20 years, we’ve been inspired by the stories of service we’ve heard from young people across the United States,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We look forward to honoring the top youth volunteers of 2016, and hope their example will inspire others to serve their communities, too.”
“Middle and high school students nationwide are making their mark on their communities through volunteer service,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “We are honored to celebrate their initiative, their dedication, and the powerful example they’ve set for their peers.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. The awards program also is conducted in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China and Brazil, where Prudential has significant business operations.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States and 35 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
[Editors: Full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions are available at http://spirit.prudential.com.]