The Brick Awards have been called the Oscars of youth service awards. Created in 1996, they have only recently gained popular appeal. In fact, 2007 marks the first year that the Brick Awards will be televised by the CW Television Network. The Brick Awards were created by Do Something, a not-for-profit virtual company that focuses on inspiring young people to get involved in community programs, fundraising, and volunteering agendas.
The only two requirements to apply for the Brick Awards are to be under 25 years old and to have done something positive for the community. Young people can either postulate themselves or have somebody else do it for them. From the applicants, about 1,000 in 2006, 24 finalists are chosen. Until 2006, the finalists were selected by a committee of successful CEOs and community leaders; the selection is now managed by the Brick Academy, which consists of all past Brick winners.
The Brick Awards are divided into four categories: Global Impact, Community Building, Education and Environment, and Health. The finalists go through an extensive series of interviews and presentations, after which the judges get together to deliberate and chose 12 winners, three in each category. Winners over 18 years old receive $10,000 US Dollars (USD), and minors who win receive a $5,000 USD grant and a $5,000 USD scholarship.
The public can also get involved in the Brick Awards. Once the winners have been selected for each category, their profiles are posted online at Brickawards.com. Anybody can then log in and vote for their favorite. The person with the most votes in each category receives the Golden BRICK Award, an additional $15,000 USD to help with their cause.
Past winners include a 22 year old who set up a mobile clinic to provide cancer screenings; a 22 year old who created a free-lending audio book library for the visually impaired; and a 14 year old who buys pre-paid calling cards to help soldiers stationed in Iraq keep in touch with their families. Most of the young people involved in the Brick Awards suffered through the same thing they now work for, which makes the awards even more meaningful.