Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley has presented its fourth annual Renee Parsons Girls Leadership Award. Driven by businesswoman and philanthropist Renee Parsons, the award honors girls who have demonstrated three fundamental leadership qualities—collaboration, assertiveness and empathy—and award the recipient up to $80,000 of scholarship funding over four years, in addition to a new laptop.
“As a businesswoman, I feel compelled to support the next generation of female leaders and that’s what this scholarship is all about,” says Parsons, co-founder of The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and president and executive creative director of PXG Apparel. “It’s about encouraging young women to be fearless and confident. Education is a powerful tool that breaks down barriers and gives youth the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Formally presented via a Zoom call with Parsons, the announcement came as a surprise to the 2020 award winner, Kaiah James. James believed the call marked the final stage of the interview process, but after a few standard questions, Parsons delivered the news that James had been selected as this year’s recipient.
“This award sparks generational forward movement and legacy,” say Shannon and Eric James, Kaiah’s parents. “It has been instilled in us that the next generation should strive to do better than the last, and with this scholarship, Kaiah will be able to do just that. It’s given her the ability to enter the workforce with financial freedom and get that head start that many African American children unfortunately don’t have.”
While many of the Foundation’s grants support a broad range of youth and underserved adults, Parsons is personally invested in providing motivated girls with the resources to become happy, thriving, successful women. Inspired by the list of applicants and her personal conversation with James, Parsons decided to offer a second BGCAZ girls’ leadership scholarship this year—the Renee Parsons Excellence Award—to Amaya Jones. This award presents the recipient up to $40,000 of scholarship funding over four years, along with a new laptop.
The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation is a longtime supporter of BGCAZ. Over the years, the Foundation has given a combined $8-plus million to the organization, including numerous Youth of the Year scholarships, live auction items and other donations.