Bethlehem Central High School senior Anthony Amato has been honored as a 2016 Hispanic Heritage Foundation National Youth Award winner. He is one of only eight high school seniors to win the prestigious award.
The National Youth Awards celebrate Latino high school students who excel in the classroom and community, and for their achievements in one of the following categories: Education, Healthcare & Science, Community Service, Mathematical Sciences, Innovation & Technology, Engineering, Media & Entertainment, and Business & Entrepreneurship.
Amato, who runs his own business connecting freelance graphic designers with businesses looking to hire, won the Business & Entrepreneurship award.
“An autodidact with a determined disposition, Anthony taught himself product advertisement and web management and design,” reads Amato’s bio on the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Youth Awards website. “With this knowledge in hand, he created an affiliate website while still in middle school. Even then, he had instinctual, savvy and clever approaches, such as offering customers exclusive bonus offers, to get commission revenue through his site. His junior year in high school, he launched his very own online freelance agency, New York DesignScapes, which offers graphic design services. He works as chief manager of his agency where he has other freelancers working under him. He manages the agency’s finances and also works establishing all customer communications.”
He traveled to Miami Beach at the end of January to accept the award at a star-studded event where he and the other winners were given the red-carpet treatment. All eight National Youth Award winners were styled for the event by Macy’s.
“They flew me to Miami for four days where I got the chance to get to know the other winners from across the country and network with prominent business leaders who have encouraged me in my pursuit of a career in finance,” said Amato. “These are people I hope to stay in contact with throughout college and beyond.”
Amato, who plans to attend New York University, said he first applied for the regional award after learning about it in the high school’s Counseling Center newsletter last fall.
In addition to his business pursuits, Amato is an accomplished ballet dancer and soloist for the Albany Berkshire Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker and a violinist in the school orchestra. He also is a photographer and cinematographer, as well as a Teen Ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House and volunteer at the MohawkHudson Land Conservancy, where he helps to create and maintain trails in their preserves.
“This is a very prestigious award,” said Scott Carlton, BCHS Counselor. “I am very happy for Anthony. He is an incredible kid.”
The eight national winners were selected from hundreds of regional awardees and approximately 20,000 applicants nationwide. Each received up to $5,000 in grant money for his or her education, a project or idea. The winners also gained entry into Latinos on Fast Track (LOFT), a fraternal organization that partners with the Hispanic College Fund to prepare and position emerging Latino professionals.
Besides endowing outstanding students with flexible grants, the Youth Awards also functions as the main conduit to the LOFT program, which helps to guide vetted Latino youth as they move from high school to college, graduate school and into their careers. LOFT connects thousands of regional and national Youth Award winners with guides, resources, fellow members and professionals. Included among the more than 30 training programs, workshops and informal panels held annually are the LOFT Coding Jam Session, in which minority youth are bilingually taught how to use HTML and CSS coding, and the LOFT Video Game Innovational Fellowship, wherein 25 LOFT fellows aged 15 to 25 are challenged to create and develop a video game addressing a social issue. The final product is then presented to the White House and Congress.