“The whole point of the MLK Outstanding Young Person Breakfast is to celebrate the accomplishments of students in our local communities, both inside and outside of school,” says Andrew Schilcher, director of Middle School Programs for the Urban League of Greater Madison. “We expect to be recognizing around 270 students for the Outstanding Young Person Award on Sunday morning. The Betty Franklin Hammond Scholarship will also be awarded to four high school seniors.”

This is the 34th year that the Urban League of Greater Madison will be hosting the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outstanding Young Person Breakfast, which will be once again be held at Edgewood High School on Sunday morning, Jan. 14. It is a big deal for the hundreds of students who are recognized each year at the event. But the breakfast, which is one of Wisconsin’s largest youth and family focused celebration of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, is also a big deal for the greater Madison community.

“We usually plan for 900-950 people. We’re usually in that neighborhood,” Schilcher says of the crowd that is made up of parents, youth, teachers, school administrators, elected officials, non-profit leaders and community leaders. “It seems like every year, the event is slightly bigger than the year before.”

The turnout is usually large for the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Outstanding Young Person Breakfast at Edgewood High.

Schilcher has been helping to organize this year’s MLK Outstanding Young Person Breakfast and has been supporting the event in some form for fashion for the 10 years he’s been working at the Urban League of Greater Madison.

The Annual MLK Breakfast is an opportunity to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while honoring outstanding local middle and high school students of color in Dane County for their academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and service to the community. The students are nominated by staff members at their respective schools.

“They are nominated not only by what they achieve in the classroom but by contributions they make outside of the classroom in their community,” Schilcher says.

“My favorite part of this event is how we are able to recognize the youth. The schools do a great job of nominating absolutely deserving students and students who may not otherwise receive a lot of attention or accolades within their school,” Schilcher adds. “So it’s really a great opportunity to help recognize what so many youth are doing in our community and their schools.”

DeShan Dilliard accepts his Outstanding Young Person Award at last year’s MLK Breakfast.

It’s a proud moment for the parents, too. “The event almost has a graduation sort of feel as we get them lined up to walk across the stage to receive their awards,” Schilcher says. “It’s great to see how the students carry themselves and the sense of pride and accomplishment and the genuine recognition that the community has for the accomplishments of these students. It’s not just the family of the students that attend this breakfast, but community members, local officials, officials from the school district. It’s a large slice of the community and it’s a unique opportunity for the greater community to recognize these students.”

At the event, Martin Luther King Scholarships are presented to exceptional high school seniors. Mann Scholars will be honored at the breakfast. Presenting sponsor for the event will be UW Health & Quartz Health Solutions, Inc. The platinum sponsor is Charter Policy and the gold sponsor is UW Credit Union. The breakfast is open to the public and is one of the oldest and most well-attended family observations of the King Holiday in Wisconsin. There are still tickets available for purchase here, says Schilcher.

“A lot of us at the Urban League are looking forward to setting aside some time to be really intentional about how we’re recognizing our students within the community,” Schilcher says. “It’s not just about recognizing them, but instilling in them and their guests the sense of urgency around community involvement and being that holistic person. It’s an inspiring event. It certainly has a ‘call-to-service’ feel to it and I think that’s something that continues to motivate students year after year and can also really inspire the community.”

The Urban League of Greater Madison is looking for volunteers to help out with the 34th Annual MLK Outstanding Young Person Breakfast on Sunday, Jan. 14. For more information on that, click here.