Latifah, Usher & Ruben Studdard Back Boys & Girls Club

Musicians Queen Latifah, Usher and Ruben Studdard have joined forces with the Boy and Girls Club of America’s national spokesperson, Denzel Washington, to launch a new initiative aiming to empower America’s youth. The BE GREAT campaign was unveiled yesterday (September 17) in Washington, D.C. as the Boys and Girls Club of America’s integrated advocacy campaign.

The new program was developed to express and address the most pressing issues facing American teens today.

It was created after an online survey conducted by the Boys and Girls Club found that 33% of young people said that education is the top issue facing America, while another 67% reported knowing someone who had dropped out of high school.

Additionally, a recent Teen Town Hall Meeting hosted by the organization in Los Angeles found that today’s kids and teens are also concerned about the increase in violence and teen pregnancies among their peers.

“As someone whose life was changed by the Boys & Girls Club, I can think of no better organization to lead the country in addressing the pressing needs of today’s young people,” Denzel Washington said. “I also believe that as adults we must assume responsibility for many of the conditions that are preventing our young people from achieving their full potential.”

The new program is also supported by former President Bill Clinton, Comedian/Author/Activist Bill Cosby, basketball legend Michael Jordan, Motown pioneer Smokey Robinson, filmmaker John Singleton, singer John Mellencamp, and actors Cuba Gooding, Jr., Edward James Olmos, Mario Lopez, Courtney B. Vance, Mark Wahlberg and Kerry Washington, all of who are Club alumi.

In addition to serving as a voice for the children it serves, the BE GREAT campaign also urges adults to get involved through volunteerism, financial and executive support of local Boys & Girls Clubs.

During a Congressional Breakfast hosted just before the announcement of the BE GREAT campaign, the Boys and Girls Club of America also announced their 2008-2008 National Youth of the Year.

The winner, Shonnetta Henry of Denver, Colorado kicked off her role by presenting a series of recommendations to the offices of presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama on the issues they should address on behalf of America’s teens.

Resources for those wishing to get involved with the BE GREAT campaign can be found at