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Ten Outstanding Young Americans

This award serves to formally recognize young people who excel in their chosen fields and create positive change. By recognizing these young people, JCI USA raises the status of socially responsible leaders in this world. 

The honorees motivate their peers (and JCI USA members) to seek excellence and serve others. Their stories of discovery, determination and ingenuity inspire young people to be better leaders and create better societies.

The concept for the Ten Outstanding Young Americans was fathered by Durward Howes, publisher of a yearly volume, “America’s Young Men.” Howes published in his books for 1934, 1935, and 1936, his own selections for the 12 outstanding young men in America. In the 1937 volume, he cut the list from 12 men to 10. It has remained that number to the present day.

In 1938, Howes gave Future Magazine, at one time the official publication of the United States Junior Chamber (now, JCI USA), the exclusive right to publish his selection. As the organization’s president in 1930-31, Howes felt that publishing this list would call attention to the important role of young men in the world. Through 1941, editors of Future Magazine selected the ten men with the assistance of Durward Howes and other judges. Since 1942, a panel of distinguished judges has made the selection. In 1984,
female members were allowed as full members in the organization. As a result, The United States Junior Chamber changed the program’s name from Ten Outstanding Young Men of America (TOYM) to Ten Outstanding Young Americans (TOYA) in 1985. During the 1986 honors presentation, the first three women were honored at an historic ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of extraordinary young people.

Honorees are selected on their achievement or contribution in one of ten areas including business & economics; political & governmental affairs; academic leadership; cultural achievement; moral & environmental leadership; contribution to children, world peace, human rights; humanitarian & voluntary leadership; scientific & technological development; personal improvement; and medical innovation.

The men and women selected over the years have represented the cultural, economic, and personal progress of their time. Many of the honorees have gone on to become well-known to most Americans for their achievements. Others, while less famous, have nevertheless continued to serve mankind in a great variety of ways.

Many notables have been honored as Outstanding Young Americans in the past. Each Honoree exemplifies the 65 words in the Jaycee Creed and dedication to creating a better nation. Of the more than 600 young Americans honored, many were recognized before the achievements for which they are now known. Past prominent recipients include U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Bill Clinton; and Vice Presidents Al Gore, Dan Quayle, Richard Cheney, and Joseph Biden. Also
honored were Howard Hughes, Orson Welles, Elvis Presley, Henry Ford II, Nelson Rockefeller, Ted Kennedy, dogsled champion Susan Butcher, Jeanna Yeager, Larry Holmes, Gale Sayers and actor Christopher Reeve. All were named before the age of 40 and most before they had achieved national prominence.



Ten Outstanding Young Americans Histoy and Trophy LOGO.png



Ten Outstanding Young Americans Histoy and Trophy.png

Arthur M. Kraft, a 1954 TOYA honoree, designed the “Silver Hands” trophy that each honoree receives. It was first presented to the Class of 1956. The inscription on its base reads:

“The hope of mankind lies in the hands of youth and action.”

Each Honoree has shown a commitment to that hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage, and determination. The trophy is named the JAYSON, an acronym standing for “Jaycees: Active Youth "Serving Our Nation.”

Each one weighs 11.5lbs and is constructed of a marble base with nickel-plated hands. In addition to the artistically designed trophy, each honoree is presented with a framed certificate to display prominently. They are also presented with a lapel pin that was specially designed and crafted by Erffmeyer & Sons Company from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The pin features the TOYA emblem surrounded by ten black onyx stones and is similar to the traditional Jaycee national officer pins. Both the certificate and pin are presented to each of the honorees during an event the day of the public banquet and awards ceremony.

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