Annual benefit honored longtime supporters Claude Grizzard Sr. and Bank of America with Champion of Youth AwardsATLANTA, Oct. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Georgia Aquarium was transformed into Motown last night as more than 400 guests came out to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America's (BGCA) 2013 "Great Futures Gala," an annual fundraising event. The goal of this year's benefit was to raise funds for the youth service organization's national programs and efforts. Motown legends The Four Tops kicked off the evening with a spectacular musical performance, followed by remarks from Olympian Gail Devers. The event also bestowed prestigious Champion of Youth awards upon longtime BGCA supporters Claude Grizzard Sr. and Bank of America. (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130710/MM44829-b) Claude Grizzard has dedicated his professional life to helping nonprofit organizations succeed. Through his leadership of the Atlanta-based Grizzard Communications Group, he became an icon in the direct response fundraising profession. For more than 40 years, Grizzard has been a tremendous supporter of youth and Boys & Girls Clubs. Among his many contributions, he served as a BGCA National Trustee and provided invaluable guidance in enhancing BGCA's National Area Council, which fosters strong volunteer boards. He has also been integral in establishing new Clubs and providing outreach to kids. "I am humbled and honored to be presented with the Champion of Youth Award by Boys & Girls Clubs of America," said Grizzard, retired CEO of Grizzard Communications. "The work and mission of Boys & Girls Clubs has made a huge impact on my life and on our youth for more than 100 years. I'm proud to have assisted in building great futures for more youth in this country." Bank of America received a second Champion of Youth award for its significant partnership with the organization through the years. Over the years, Bank of America has provided vast and far-reaching support, including in-kind marketing, communications assistance and sponsorship of various BGCA events and programs. In 2011, Bank of America provided $1.5 million to initiate the "Gift for Opportunity" fund to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2012, the company awarded more than $1.7 million in grants to BGCA and 55 Clubs. This year, Bank of America announced that it will fund an update of BGCA's career-readiness program for Club teens, Career Launch. "Bank of America is proud to work with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is honored by this award," said Geri Thomas, Georgia Market President for Bank of America. "Whether it's through local support or our career readiness programs, we know how important it is to invest in our youth, building leadership skills that are essential for future success." Boys & Girls Clubs of America's corporate headquarters in Atlanta services more than 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs around the country, all of which work to enable all young people, especially those in need, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. In addition to providing a safe place for kids and teens to go after school, Clubs help their members learn about good character and citizenship, get nutritional counseling, and coach them on how to achieve their highest potential in academics. Arlen "Griff" Griffin served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event, which was co-chaired by BGCA Southeast Trustees Aron D. Levine, Managing Director Bank of America's Preferred & Small Business Banking; Dave George, President of Olive Garden (Darden Restaurants); and Jim Kaufman, Senior Vice President of Merrill Lynch. About Boys & Girls Clubs of America:For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America ( GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,000 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.