Marcus Steele, Jr., of John Will Anderson Gary Boys & Girls Club, was named the Midwest Region Youth of the Year last night after being chosen as one of two finalists earlier this month. Steele competed against State Youth of the Year winners from Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He is now one of only six Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year finalists.
Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program since 1947. The program celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Club teens throughout the country. The process begins with local Boys & Girls Clubs selecting candidates from the nearly 400,000 teens in Clubs across America. This year, Steele and seven others were chosen from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s 2,500 teens to serve as local Youth of the Year candidates. In February, Steele was named the organization’s Youth of the Year and advanced to compete against 14 teens from Indiana in the state competition. In April, Steele was named Indiana’s State Youth of the Year and advanced to regionals.
Steele is Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s third straight Indiana Youth of the Year winner to make it to the regional competition. In 2019, Portage’s Sanja Kirova was named Indiana State Youth of the Year, and in 2020, Merrillville’s Azariah Avery took the honor.
“This has been a very long journey,” Steele’s father Marcus Sr. Said after the State competition. “But he’s very calm, and he takes everything in stride.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana president and CEO Ryan Smiley said Steele’s success is a testament to his character and commitment to helping others.
“Marcus has developed into an outstanding young man. He’s a mentor inside our Club, and younger members look up to him and follow his lead,” Smiley said. “We’re so proud of what he’s accomplished, and we know he’s on his way to accomplishing so much more.”
For being named Midwest Region Youth of the Year, Steele receives a $20,000 scholarship and moves on to the national competition. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional $50,000 scholarship and a new Toyota Corolla.
Steele delivered his speech live from his home Club while staff and his family watched from the gymnasium. After the announcement, Steele was all smiles. He thanked his family, friends and Boys & Girls Club staff for supporting him.
“It’s truly a blessing to be just a kid from Gary, Indiana who made it to Nationals,” Steele said. “I thank everyone who has supported me and invested in me. It hasn’t gone unnoticed.”