On Thursday, May 5, 2022 BGCK’s Youth of the Year and Harborside Academy student Kayla was named a 2022 Bezos Scholar with BGCK’s own Director of Teen Services, Felicia Dalton, as part of the 2022 Scholars cohort.
Bezos Scholars Program inspires and challenges young people to address issues they are passionate about in their communities. Kayla is passionate about addressing inequalities in her community. She said, “I cannot wait to experience networking with educated and inspiring people. I love to learn and hope to gain more knowledge on becoming a better leader and listener.” Kayla focuses her time and efforts on making her community and the world a more inclusive and equitable society for all. Her focus is on mental health and increasing resources for teenagers, acknowledging that there is still a gap in access and opportunities. Kayla was most recently awarded Wisconsin’s Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. In addition to focusing on community development and mental health resources, Kayla also runs her own business where she offers hair and make-up services.
The applicant pool is competitive; students selected are one of twelve Scholars representing nine states this year. Scholars are selected based on commitment to their education, demonstrated leadership abilities, willingness to embrace challenges, and the desire to create positive change in their communities.
Kayla will be supported by her educator scholar Felicia Dalton of Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha.
Felicia is working to increase access for underrepresented communities by providing youth with life-changing opportunities and experiences through her work at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha. Felicia is a social worker who went to school with the goal of working with teens at risk, making her role at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha a dream job. One of the key accomplishments she is most proud of is starting a non-profit focused on supporting students with their post-secondary plans including higher education, workforce preparation and vocational education.
Felicia said the following about the opportunity to support these young leaders, “I am looking forward to supporting my student as she finds her advocacy voice and taps into her leadership potential. I’m also hoping to gain skills to further support teens at the Boys and Girls Club.”
The Bezos Family Foundation launched the Scholars program in 2005 to provide young people a platform to design solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing their communities. The program begins with an all-expenses paid trip to the Aspen Ideas Festival. The week is filled with leadership training, panel discussions, and exclusive conversations with many of the world’s most acclaimed scientists, journalists, artists, and global thought leaders. This experience sets the stage for the challenge ahead: launching sustainable projects, known as Local Ideas Festivals (LIFs), to transform their communities.
The topics and themes of LIFs are as diverse as the Scholars themselves and are designed to align Scholars’ passions with an existing community need. Many address inequities in education, advocating for the rights of minorities and underrepresented communities, and the need to create space for civil discourse. Since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 attendees have participated in these change projects.
Congratulations Kayla and Felicia on this great honor!