Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley has announced the sixth annual Renee Parsons Girls Leadership & Excellence Award recipients.
Established by Scottsdale resident, businesswoman and philanthropist Renee Parsons, the awards honor girls who have showcased three fundamental leadership qualities – collaboration, assertiveness and empathy, according to a press release.
The Girls Leadership Award provides the recipient the opportunity to be granted up to $80,000 of educational scholarship funding over four years as well as a new laptop. The Girls Excellence Award grants up to $40,000 of educational scholarship funding and a new laptop for the winner.
The educational scholarships can be used at a university, community college or vocational school depending on the recipients’ post-secondary goals.
Representatives from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation surprised the 2023 Renee Parsons Girls Leadership Award winner, Janet Thompson, with the award at her Boys & Girls Club, the Bob & Renee Parsons Branch in Phoenix, the release stated.
Thompson arrived at the club believing she was participating in a photoshoot, but instead she was revealed as the winner and gifted a new laptop, PXG backpack and other essential school supplies.
“I’m just so grateful,” Thompson, a senior at Camelback High School, said in the release. “I want to be somebody to not only accomplish my dreams, but to inspire other children that you can really get somewhere in life no matter what you’ve been through.”
Thompson is a dedicated student who ranks in the top 25th percent of her class and participates in several school clubs, in addition to being a varsity cheerleader. At her club, she is a two-year Keystone Club president, facilitating supplies drives and fundraisers to support local nonprofits. She also volunteers with younger club members and coaches cheerleading after school.
The scholarship allows Thompson to reach her goal of becoming the first person in her family to attend college. Motivated by her own lived experiences, Thompson plans to become a social worker and help make a difference in the lives of others. She will attend Arizona State University in Fall 2023.
“Both of these young women have shown a tremendous amount of determination and hard work,” said Renee Parsons, co-founder of The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. “The scholarships act to shine a light on and acknowledge these young women’s accomplishments and serve as an investment in their futures. We are humbled and privileged to be a small part of their lives and, as always, love to watch their journeys.”
While the foundation serves a variety of youth-related causes, Parsons has personally placed an emphasis on supporting young women and improving their access to quality education, the release stated. It is because of this passion that a secondary award was created in 2021: The Renee Parsons Girls Excellence Award.
Geraldmy Sauza, the Colangelo Branch Youth of the Year and a senior at Carl Hayden High School, was named the recipient of this year’s Excellence Award and presented with up to $40,000 of scholarship funding over four years along with a new laptop and PXG backpack.
A longtime member of the Colangelo Club, Sauza caught the vetting committee’s attention with her volunteerism, leadership and caring nature, highlighted by her involvement in her school’s JROTC program and more than 100 community service hours. Sauza mentors younger club members and is dedicated to club programs like Torch Club, Keystone and Youth of the Year. She plans to enter the military and train to become a chef.
For more than 75 years, BGCAZ has been creating equity and hope for youth through academic, social and workforce programming. A large focus is centered on the organization’s four priority outcomes: academic success, good character & leadership, healthy lifestyles and career pathways & workforce readiness.
Through these award-winning programs, BGCAZ has been able to reach over 16,000 youth across the Valley. To learn more about BGCAZ and its impact, please visit bgcaz.org.