The Earl T. Shinhoster Youth Leadership Institute was recognized for historical research conducted by four of its youth that resulted in historical markers being placed at the Cluskey Embankment Stores on Factory Walk behind City Hall. The Institute received a 2016 Award for Excellence in the Educational Use of Historical Records from the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council on October 26 in Atlanta.
In 2011, the youth turned a civic engagement project into a research mission after hearing from a tour guide that slaves awaiting the auction block were held at the vault-like structures known as Cluskey Embankments Stores. They went before City Council asking for an archaeological study and to prevent parking there. The youth, ages 13 to 16 years old, later partnered with the City of Savannah Research Library and Municipal Archives and Georgia Southern University Department of Sociology and Anthropology, which conducted an archaeological dig in the vaults.
Both groups also received the award of excellence for their roles in the five-year historical research project. The award recognized the “host of participants of various ages, educational levels, professional disciplines, and public responsibilities, all of whom had been involved with, and committed to, a unique educational experience in civic engagement and youth leadership development.”
Margaret Carthon Shinhoster, president of the Leadership Institute, and Richard Shinhoster, a founding member of the Institute, were present to receive the award.
The youth from the Earl T. Shinhoster Youth leadership Institute attended a public ceremony on May 11, 2016, when the City of Savannah unveiled interpretative historical panels in the four Cluskey Embankment Stores.