Littleton High School student Sarah Payson is a recent recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. The award, granted by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Program, recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country. In recognition of her volunteer service, Sarah was nominated by Littleton High School for this national award.

Payson’s volunteer work is centered on YouthRoots, a philanthropic program that teaches high school students how to change the world. YouthRoots combines a robust leadership curriculum with a real world experiential learning program, including the completion of a three-step philanthropic process. The three steps include a needs assessment, fundraising and grant-making.

“From my experiences I have found that students today do not lack the passion for their pursuits, but instead the confidence to follow and achieve their passions. Before YouthRoots, this was very true for me. In the past year, YouthRoots has given me the resources and support to realize and fulfill my goals, while also teaching me skills on how to make a difference and lead in the future,” said Payson. “My most unforgettable experience was standing up on stage and awarding the checks to our four nonprofits. Not only did it act as a culmination of our efforts, but it also acted as a realization of the impact I can have. I now know that I can make a lasting impact on my community and beyond, just as other students can.”

Littleton High School Principal Amy Oaks talked about the impact of Payson’s volunteer work at school. “Sarah has been an outstanding Student Body President, determined from day one to build a stronger community at Littleton High School. Whether welcoming Early High School students to eighth grade, leading her basketball and soccer teammates, or helping to organize students after the tragic shootings in Florida, Sarah’s advocacy for the Littleton High School community is always steady, strong and thoughtful.”             

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.

“The recipients of these awards demonstrate that young people across America are making remarkable contributions to the health and vitality of their communities,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “By recognizing these students and placing a spotlight on their volunteer activities, we hope to motivate others to consider how they can also contribute to their community.”

"Demonstrating civic responsibility through volunteerism is an important part of life," said NASSP Executive Director JoAnn Bartoletti. "These honorees practice a lesson we hope all young people, as well as adults, will emulate."

Prudential Spirit of Community Award applications were distributed nationwide last September through middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and Affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network.  These schools and officially designated local organizations nominated Local Honorees, whose applications were advanced for state-level judging. In addition to granting President’s Volunteer Service Awards, the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards selected State Honorees, Distinguished Finalists and Certificate of Excellence recipients. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria including personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.