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State Honoree

Steven Hoffman

Vermont

Steven Hoffman, 17, of Westford, Vt., a junior at Essex High School in Essex Junction, founded “Club Youth Speak Out” (CYSO), an organization that sponsors events and activities for local youth through community collaborations. Steven, an active member of several civic groups, saw the need for young people to have a greater voice in community initiatives designed to benefit them. Most of these initiatives are directed by adults, he observed, and are not entirely successful because they don’t address what young people really want. Steven envisioned a youth-driven organization that could help teens pursue positive goals in a wide variety of ways, so he wrote a mission for CYSO and formed a board with representatives from all county high schools. He then began planning a series of free events and projects in collaboration with businesses, legislators and schools, including dances, “speakouts,” a book club, a female discussion group, peer drug counseling and an environmental group. Steven’s organization has been so successful that the local government donated office space and equipment for daily operations, and he is currently preparing a $250,000 capital campaign to help expand CYSO across the state.