Distinguish Yourself with the Congressional Award

“The Congressional Award, a public-private partnership, established by Congress in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, is a non-competitive program open to young people ages 14-23, regardless of mental or physical challenges, or socioeconomic status. The Congressional Award Foundation teaches participants to set and achieve personally challenging goals that build character, and foster community service, personal development, and citizenship.” (from Congressional Award: Congress’ Award for Youth)

Astute parents and students understand that the students who get the best scholarship opportunities are students who not only excel academically but who also show leadership, character and other indicators of integrity. The Congressional Award program offers the opportunity for distinction to students by offering the opportunity to earn the bronze, silver and gold medal awards.

Participation in this program involves setting and achieving goals in the areas of:

  • Community Service
  • Personal Growth
  • Physical Fitness
  • Expedition/Exploration

How does a student participate? Students must first register with the program at www.congressionalaward.org. Click on the “Youth” tab to find the registration page. In order to register, a student needs to list his/her congressional district and the name of their congressional member. The student will also need to print out a waiver and send in a check for $10.00 to finalize the registration process.

The Student Advisor- The registration form will ask for the name of the student’s advisor for this process. The advisor can be any adult who is not a member of the student’s family. Teachers, coaches, civic leaders, neighbors and close family friends can be excellent advisors. The Congressional Award program describes the advisor’s role as:

Meeting with the student to set acceptable and challenging goals

Staying in touch with the student throughout their pursuit of the award

Helping the student put together their award booklet to submit when the student has completed his/her goals.

Potential advisors can read all about the program and the duties of an advisor by visiting the Congressional Award: Congress’ Award for Youth and clicking on the Adult Volunteers tab. There is then a link to a section called “Become an Advisor” that covers the Advisor’s duties.

The Validators- Each of the student’s activities in pursuit of the Congressional Award will need to be validated by someone involved in supervising that activity. The student will have a form that he or she fills out for each activity that must also be signed by someone who can confirm the student’s involvement and accomplishments in that activity. So, while a student only has one advisor throughout the program, there will be many different validators involved in the different components of it.

The Awards- Students can start the program by working towards their bronze, silver and gold certificates before moving on to their bronze, silver and gold medals. Many students, however, just start off by working towards the bronze medal. Once the bronze medal is awarded, the student is automatically given the bronze, silver and gold certificates. (Each level of achievement builds on the previous levels.)

Detailed descriptions of the certificate and medal requirements are available on the Congressional Award: Congress’ Award for Youth site but a summary of those requirements is listed below.

rd program is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate other dimensions of their character beyond academic success. Since participation in this program is voluntary, the choice to participate speaks well of the student who takes it on. Visit the site and see if participation in this program could be worked into your high school years. Remember, you do not have to complete your gold medal within two years. You can continue to work on your medals throughout college, up until age 24.

Ultimately, this is a super program for students who wish to gain an extra distinction for themselves outside of the classroom.

 

Bronze medal

(min. 7 months)

Silver medal

(min. 12 months)

Gold medal

(min. 24 months)

Community Service

100 hours

200 hours

400 hours

Personal Growth

50 hours

100 hours

200 hours

Physical Fitness

50 hours

100 hours

200 hours

Expedition

1 overnight

2 consecutive nights

4 consecutive nights

The student’s congressman/woman typically presents the bronze and silver medals to the student in a private ceremony. However, the gold medal is presented as part of a group ceremony in Washington at the Capitol Building in June of each year.

The Congressional Award program is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate other dimensions of their character beyond academic success. Since participation in this program is voluntary, the choice to participate speaks well of the student who takes it on. Visit the site and see if participation in this program could be worked into your high school years. Remember, you do not have to complete your gold medal within two years. You can continue to work on your medals throughout college, up until age 24.

Ultimately, this is a super program for students who wish to gain an extra distinction for themselves outside of the classroom.

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