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Prudential Seeking Youthful Volunteers for Recognition, Prizes

The Prudential Spirit of Community search for top youth volunteers is underway.

Today, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program begins its search for Missouri's top youth volunteers of 2013.

Students in grades 5-12 are invited to apply for Prudential Spirit of Community Awards if they have made meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service within the past 12 months. Young volunteers can apply online at http://spirit.prudential.com or at www.nassp.org/spirit.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is seeking youth volunteers from every state in America.

Last year, student Alexander Kehm, 17, of Fenton, was a state and national winner in the program. Alexander spearheaded a program in which he collected new and used soccer equipment and donated it to underprivileged youth worldwide.

The Spirit of Community awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial, Inc. in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), were created in 1995 to recognize middle level and high school students for helping the less fortunate, promoting health and safety, protecting the environment, or volunteering in other ways. The awards are presented annually on the local, state and national level.

“We have been recognizing youth volunteers since 1995 – and still, every year, we’re amazed by the stories of exemplary community service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John R. Strangfeld in a news release. “We look forward to honoring the top youth volunteers of 2013 for their selflessness, their initiative and their dedication to changing communities for the better.”

Missouri's top youth volunteers of last year were Kelby Czerwonka, 18, of West Plains and Taylor Black, 13, of Warrensburg. Kelby was honored for creating a mentoring program focused on volunteerism for middle level students from 10 local schools, and then leading them in fundraising drives that collected more than $10,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network. Taylor was recognized hosting a monthly “game night” for kids to raise money for a variety of charities.

Applicants for 2013 awards must complete their online application by November 6, 2012, then submit them for certification to a middle or high school principal, Girl Scout council, county 4-H agent, American Red Cross chapter, YMCA, or affiliate of the HandsOn Network. Paper copies of the application form can be requested by calling 877-525-8491 toll-free.

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 from President Barack Obama if they have contributed the minimum number of volunteer hours to qualify (50 hours for age 14 and younger, 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 5, 2013. 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 May 4-7, 2013. 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 the year. National Honorees will receive additional awards of $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.

“We have learned in the past 17 years that, on any given day, thousands of middle and high school students are volunteering in communities across America,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “As the search begins for the top youth volunteers of 2013, we hope that our message to those students is clear: we acknowledge, respect and commend you for your service.”

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program is the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer community service, and has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level over the past 17 years. The awards program also is conducted in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India, where Prudential has significant business operations.

NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 45 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, 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.

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