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Our Roots

Hal Jackson

Our Founder
The Youth Develpoment Foundation started as
Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International® (HJTTI) scholarship competition,
a TALENT CONTEST, not a beauty pageant, created for young women 13 to 17 years of age with performing talents, by legendary radio and television personality Hal Jackson, in response to parents’ pleas to use his expertise and contacts to create a contest that would allow minority young women an opportunity to display their talents before the world, an opportunity denied them at the time.
The contest originally started as MISS BLACK TEENAGE AMERICA and initially took place in July, 1971, in Atlanta, Georgia, produced for international television syndication by Hal Jackson Productions, which then became one of the first black television production companies in the nation.
To accommodate the interest of other countries that wanted to participate, the contest was change to
Hal Jackson’s TALENTED TEENS INTERNATIONAL® (HJTTI) which has been held in such prestigious New York City locations as, Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum, the World Famous Shubert’s Theatre on Broadway, the Waldorf Astoria, the Apollo Theatre, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands in Association with their Department of Commerce, the world famous Coconut Grove in Hollywood, California, Rose Hall in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Crystal Palace Theatre in the Bahamas as well as in St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands and Bermuda.

After 40 years of HJTTI the contest was discontinued, however, scholarships are still awarded by the YDF to deserving young women from diverse backgrounds with an emphasis on continuing their education in college.