Local Girl Scout and Coral Gables Senior High student Annie Farrell of Miami, Fla. understands the complicated process of applying for colleges. “As the daughter of a first-generation college student, I’m aware not everybody lives with the expectation that college is the next step,” shares Farrell.
As she was applying for colleges herself, Farrell was inspired to develop a college prep program for at-risk youth as her Girl Scout Gold Award project. As a result of her program’s success, Farrell was named one of Florida’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards-- a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Farrell knew she wanted to help at-risk youth navigate the complicated and overwhelming college application process.
In her project’s planning stage, Farrell researched college application processes and collected tips for success. She then recruited two University of Miami admissions counselors, three Miami Herald writers and the education director of a local cultural center to help conduct three workshops for Casa Valentina residents.
This series of college-prep workshops, organized by Farrell, assists students who have aged out of the foster care system.
During the first workshop, the counselors walked through the best way to complete college applications and residents received helpful tips that Farrell compiled. In the following workshops, the journalists addressed how to brainstorm ideas for admissions essays and helped each resident craft college essays.
In addition to the workshops, Farrell created a “college cubby” at Casa Valentina, stocked with college guides, binders and test preparation books. Each resident also received a college sweatshirt to symbolize the path towards higher education that they chose.
About the Girl Scout Gold Award
The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have sustainable impact in their communities-and beyond.
About the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle-level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – toured the capital’s landmarks, met top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attended a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visited their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill.
On May 8, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – named America’s top youth volunteers of 2017. Each of the National Honorees will receive:
a $5,000 award
a gold medallion
a crystal trophy for their nominating school or organization, and
a $5,000 Prudential Foundation grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice
Since the program began in 1995, more than 115,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China and Brazil. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.