|Durward Howes, publisher of a yearly volume, "America's Young Men', fathered the concept
for America's Ten Outstanding Young Men. Howes published in his books for 1934, 1935, and 1936, his
own selections for the twelve outstanding young men in America. In the 1937 volume, he cut the list from
twelve men to ten. It has remained that number to the present date.
In 1938, Howes gave Future Magazine, the former publication of The United States Junior Chamber,
the exclusive right to publish his selection. As the organization's president in 1930-31, Howes
felt that publishing this list would call attention to the important role of young men in the world
of the day. Through 1941, editors of Future Magazine selected the ten men with the assistance of Durward
Howes and other judges. Since 1942, a panel of distinguished judges has made the selection process.
With the inclusion of women members into the organization, The U.S. Junior Chamber changed the program's
name from Ten Outstanding Young Men of America to Ten Outstanding Young Americans in 1985. During the 1986
honors presentation, the first three women were honored at a historic ceremony celebrating the accomplishments
of extraordinary young people of both genders.
Progress towards a better world has been the central purpose in selecting the recipients for the award. Essential
to this purpose has been the axiom "progress is the servant of time", and the significance of a person's
life is clearly indicated by achievements made in his or her most useful years.
The men and women selected over the years have represented the cultural, economic, and personal progress of their
time. Many of the honorees have gone on to become well known to most Americans for their achievements. Others,
less famous, have nevertheless continued to serve mankind in a great variety of ways. Previously, these areas
of service were categorized into thirteen areas and are an integral part of the selection process. Starting in
2012, those categories were reduced to ten. Each honoree is selected for this prestigious award on the basis of
achievement or contribution in one of these areas:
- Business, economic, and/or entrepreneurial accomplishment
- Political, legal, and/or governmental affairs
- Academic leadership and/or accomplishment
- Cultural achievement
- Moral and/or environmental leadership
- Contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights
- Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership
- Scientific and/or technological development
- Personal improvement and/or accomplishment
- Medical innovation
Also, in determining the recipients of the prestigious recognition, the judges also give consideration to each nominee's adherence to the principles embodied in the Jaycee Creed.
Currently, candidates must be United States citizens, age 18 through 40, who exemplify the Jaycee Creed and dedication to a better nation. Thousands of nomination forms have been distributed each year before judging panels that reduce the field to 20 semi-finalists. The semi-finalists are then sent to finalist judges who independently rank their top 10 selections. Based on the rankings during the final judging process, 10 individuals are selected as the TOYA honorees.
In the future, the human qualities we consider outstanding may well change to meet different challenges and priorities of a new age. But two beliefs set forth in the Jaycee Creed will always serve as the foundation for what constitutes human worth. Jaycees believe: "That Earth's great treasure lies in human personality, and that service to humanity is the best work of life."
Arthur M. Kraft (Class of 1954) designed the Silver Hands trophy each Honoree receives. The inscription on its base reads, "The hope of mankind lies in the hands of youth and action." Each Honoree has shown a commitment to that hope, reminding all Americans that no problem is too difficult when handled with grace, ingenuity, courage, and determination. The trophy is named the JAYSON, an acronym standing for "Jaycees: Active Youth Serving Our Nation." Each one weighs 11.5 lbs and is constructed of a marble base with nickel-plated hands.
In addition to the beautifully designed trophy, each Honoree is presented with a certificate to be displayed prominently in their home or work space. They are also presented a lapel pin that was specially designed and crafted by Erffmeyer & Son Company, Inc. out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The pin features the TOYA emblem surrounded by ten black onyx stones and is similar to the traditional Jaycee national officer pins. Both the certificate and pin is presented to each of the honorees during a private event the day of the public presentation.