Promoting Culture & Education through the Performing Arts
The Youth Development Foundation, Inc. (YDF) is a non-profit tax-exempt organization that promotes culture and education through the performing arts. Founded in 1971 by Hal Jackson, legendary radio personality and 2001 Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame inductee, YDF provides a support system for girls which offers exposure; encourages cross-culture exchange and nurtures emerging talent from around the world while providing training, educational scholarships and travel opportunities for young women.
YDF showcases the intelligence and talents of girls 13 to 17 years of age from the United States and abroad. The program is open to all ethnic groups with an emphasis on diversity and intercultural awareness. Program participants typically are average or above students who have performing talents and want to use their gifts as a platform for attaining their secondary educational goals.
State and country programs are held from January through June in approximately 30 states and 10 countries. Area programs provide activities dedicated to youth, education and community involvement. Additionally as a part of each program, girls participate in a series of training sessions and local competitions where they are judged in categories demonstrating academic abilities, talent and stage presence. State and country winners move on to the international event – Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International (HJTTI) to compete to become Miss Talented Teen International.
The young ladies are brought together during International Week. They tour the competition city – visit radio and/or television stations to learn about operations behind the scenes in the media industry – visit restaurants to taste foods of different cultures – attend Broadway shows and ultimately rehearse for their appearance on stage. Winners have received over $1,500,000 in scholarships, prizes and inter-cultural trips abroad.
The Youth Development Foundation, Inc. via Hal Jackson's Talented Teens International assists in preventing drug abuse and pregnancy among youth by developing self-esteem and confidence, which is essential for the positive development of young ladies and success in all aspects of their lives.
HJTTI/YDF winners and/or contestants who have become success stories, include, but not limited to, Jada Pinkett Smith, Ce Ce Peniston, the late Michelle Thomas, Vanessa Williams, and Sheryl Lee Ralph.