Jose Guerrero, a 16-year-old student at Culver City High School, was named the 2009 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Venice at a ceremony presented by Microsoft at Nike’s western regional headquarters in Culver City February 27th.

The two award finalists were Ruby Lopez of Venice High School and Abel Amossa of William and Carol Ouchi High School. Last year’s Youth of the Year winner, CeCe Cuza-Howard, is a senior at Animo Venice High and plans to attend Tulane University in the fall.

Guerrero and award finalists Lopez and Amossa were awarded college scholarships totaling over $4,000 courtesy of the Venice Marina Rotary Club, Sonrise Westside Church and The Reel Inn restaurant.

“We are extremely proud and encouraged by the commitment to the community by our three finalists,” said club executive director Erikk Aldridge. “The finalists, along with our past youth of the year honorees, prove that the value of a club membership is immeasurable.”

Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club. The program was founded over 60 years ago through the Reader’s Digest Foundation.

The Boys & Girls Club of Venice’s 2009 Youth of the Year judges were Leslie Billinger of Coca-Cola, Evelyn Morgan of Microsoft, Robert Lodzinski of Nike, board member Michael Moskowitz of, and 2008 Youth of the Year winner Cuza-Howard. The event’s master of ceremonies was Ramsey Jay, Jr., an investment analyst with Ares Management and a motivational speaker.

The three 2009 Community Leader Award recipients are Alicia Procello-Maddox, corporate responsibility manager for Nike; Andy Leonard, owner of The Reel Inn restaurant; and Cathy Collins Hession, executive director of the Carol and James A. Collins Foundation. The honorees were recognized for their exceptional volunteerism and long-standing support of the club.

The Youth of the Year award recipient will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members for the California Youth of the Year title and a $1,000 scholarship. The winner from California will go on to compete for the title of Pacific Regional Youth of the Year and a $10,000 scholarship.

The five regional winners will then travel to Washington, D.C., in September to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Youth of the Year award. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 college scholarship and is installed by the President in an Oval Office ceremony.