Inspiring Young Women

Distinguished Young Women is the oldest and largest national scholarship program for high school girls. Last year we made available more than $1 billion in college scholarship opportunities. Additionally, we directly impacted participants through our Life Skills Workshops where young women gain skills that will serve them well in our program and in life beyond high school.

Distinguished Young Women strives to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future.

How We Inspire

By encouraging continued education and providing scholarship opportunities for higher education

By creating opportunities to beneficially inspire and impact the lives of others

By encouraging and showcasing excellence in academic achievement, physical fitness, on-stage performance skills, and the ability to think and communicate clearly

By developing self-confidence and the abilities to interview effectively, to speak in public, to perform on stage and to build interpersonal relationships

The DYW Mission

To empower young women to develop their full, individual potential by providing scholarships, personal development opportunities and a positive peer network.


Dedicated to
the Program

Distinguished Young Women is made possible by a dedicated group of volunteers, staff members, and directors, who work year round to impact participants at a local, state and national level.

See Leadership


Local Roots, National Reach.

Distinguished Young Women, formerly America’s Junior Miss, was founded in 1958 as a way to reward the accomplishments of high school senior girls seeking to pursue higher education.

Prior to its organization, the Jaycees held an annual event, Azalearama, to promote Mobile, AL and the beautiful azaleas which can be found all along the Gulf Coast. Each spring, Azalea Trail Maids were selected from high school senior girls in the area to represent the annual event and they would receive scholarships for college. With few scholarship opportunities available to girls in the 1950s, the Jaycees soon found themselves deluged with applications from Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi. Visionaries quickly saw the need to recognize outstanding young women from all across the country and what we now know as Distinguished Young Women was born.

While modest in its beginnings, Distinguished Young Women grew and remains today the largest and oldest scholarship program of its kind for high school girls. With scholarship, leadership and talent as its overarching theme, Distinguished Young Women has drawn over 780,000 young women to compete in the program at the local, state and national level and $118 million in cash scholarships has been awarded to deserving young women.

Notable Alumnae

There are many notable alumnae and success stories of Distinguished Young Women. We are equally proud of all the young women who have accomplished their goals.

Kay Ivey1963Governor of Alabama
Diane Sawyer1963Television Broadcast Journalist
Maenette Benham1974Chancellor, University of Hawaii, Oahu
Marlo Graves1990Aerospace Engineer
Lindsey Stirling2005Violinist, Songwriter and Dancer
Nanxi Liu2008CEO, Blaze