Sponsored Programs & Groups


Childhood Cancer
The Childhood Cancer Campaign was established by Optimist International in 2001 with the mission of “being the leading force to rid the world of childhood cancer.”  Did you know that each year more than 12,000 children and teenagers will be diagnosed with cancer? Did you also know that one in every 330 Americans develops cancer before the age of 20? Due to statistics such as these, Optimist Clubs often participate in this program by building awareness of the disease, providing assistance to childhood cancer patients and their families and supporting research to find a cure.
Children's Challenge Awards:

Children in Kindergarten through 5th grades are award from several categories. Awards available in....
  • Arts- An award for a child with exceptional imagination and skill in painting, drawing, music, dance, drama or writing.
  • Science- An award for a child whose curiosity has led to outstanding achievement in the exploration and discovery of his/ her environment.
  • Humanities- An award for a child with special appreciation of and sensitivity to other cultures, literature, history, or current events.
  • Fellowship- An award for a child who inspires cooperation and group effort among his peers or people of other ages.
  • Community Service- An award for a child who stands out in his willingness and ability to help others.
  • Courage- An award for a child who has faced a great challenge with extraordinary bravery, endurance, and/ or effort.

C-U Optimist Scholarship Opportunities
High School Scholarships:
This scholarship is given annually in the amount of $1000 to three seniors from high schools in and around Champaign-Urbana.  The scholarship is for the purpose of continuing education in a career choice that will enhance community or youth. We select the scholarship recipients based on their service to community and youth. This will be both past experience and career choice.

Students can be nominated by an Optimist Club member, faculty member or by self-nomination.

As a winner of an Optimist Scholarship, the recipient must be willing to attend a Champaign-Urbana Optimist Club meeting as a guest speaker to tell how the scholarship will enhance his/her education. The recipient must relinquish the scholarship if he/she ends his/her education within the first year following the scholarship award.
Optimist Essay Contest
This contest requires students under the age of 19 who have not yet graduated from high school or the equivalent to compose a 700- to 800-word essay around a central idea. The contest is designed to develop writing and critical thinking skills.
Optimist Oratorical Contest
The Oratorical Contest is open to students under the age of 19 who have not yet graduated from high school or its equivalent. Students are required to prepare a 4- to 5-minute speech on a pre-assigned topic. This contest is designed to assist youth in gaining public speaking experience. 
Optimist International Junior Golf Tournament:
The Optimist Junior Golf Program is an exciting and unique junior golf program for ages 10-18.  Since 1978, Optimist-sponsored golf tournaments have served as a springboard for many of golf’s greatest players. Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Tiger Woods, Michelle McGann and Nancy Lopez are just a few of today’s elite players who found their humble beginnings with the Optimists.

No other junior golf tournament quite compares to that of the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships, which focuses on fair competition and cultural understanding among youth. This unique tournament offers as broad a field and expanded age groups as any other in its class.

Check our website regularly for details on our local qualifying event.

Respect for Law Awards Banquet:
Optimist Clubs participate in activities to inspire respect for law enforcement among young people and to educate them on the jobs these brave men and women perform. 

Youth Appreciation:


Optimists recognize youth for a variety of reasons, including their achievements at school, dedication to community service, improvement in their grades and doing their best in sports or the arts. This activity allows Optimists to build the self-esteem of the youth in their community and show them that their efforts and hard work really do make a difference.  Here are organizations and clubs that we support that focus on youth appreciation:

Champaign County NAACP: ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, & Scientific Olympics)


Free Fishing Derby (Open to the Public) held each June at Kaufmann Lake.

Jefferson Middle School Archery Club
Illinois Truth Basketball
Wheelchair Sports Camp
Urbana High School Student Senate
Thanksgiving Dinner

Urbana Middle School Character Education:
Student of the Month

Adopt-A-Park Programs - Park Beautification
Kaufman Park - Champaign
Busey Woods - Urbana

Christmas Gifts for Children in Need
helped through the following agencies:

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Thursday, Dec 20 at 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Thursday, Jan 17 at 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Thursday, Feb 21 at 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Thursday, Mar 21 at 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

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