The Jefferson Awards for Public Service

The Jefferson Awards for Public Service

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About the Jefferson Awards

Founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards is America’s highest honor for public service, a “Nobel Prize for public service”. We are one of the largest multipliers of volunteerism in the country – with youth in communities and in workplaces. Over 41 years, we have recognized a “Who’s Who” of American change-makers and more than 50,000 unsung heroes in grassroots communities. We accomplish that through a network of more than 110 Media Partners reaching into 30 million households.

Starting six years ago, we began to transform into one of the nation’s largest multipliers of volunteerism. Our goal is to Build a Culture of Service.  We achieve that in three ways – in communities through our Media Partners, in workplaces with Champions, and with young Americans through Students In Action, our Lead360 Challenge and GlobeChangers.

Champions Program
The Jefferson Awards has 23 Champions. These are corporations and universities that use the Jefferson Awards to recognize and encourage employee volunteering. They include: Allstate, Prudential, Heinz, Aramark, Nationwide and Deloitte.
Ten Year Goal:  100 Champions, impacting tens of millions of employees.

Students In Action
With Deloitte, we created Students In Action, a turnkey high school service and leadership training program. We are in 325 high schools and have trained more than 9,000 student leaders. We train 2,000 student leaders per year and the schools report two million annual service hours – rated by the Independent Sector as a $42 million value.
Ten Year Goal: In the next ten years, we will be in 2,000 high schools, training 6,000-8,000 student leaders per year and performing 25 million service hours.

Lead360 Challenge
This is the country’s largest contest for youth-based public service projects, engaging 900,000 young Americans in 2013 in 3,700 projects. One of our partners is the NFL’s Player Engagement initiative. Working with Mayors, our goal is to shine a spotlight on the good things that young Americans are doing. In our third year, 200 mayors signed up. More than 900,000 kids participated in 3,674 projects.
Ten Year Goal:  In the next ten years, our vision is to engage more than 5 million young Americans in more than 100 cities.

GlobeChangers Program
Through all of our programs, we see extraordinary kids with big ideas and energy. In June 2011, we launched GlobeChangers to identify and train young Americans to THINK BIG, take their big ideas to change the world and make them national or global service projects. We have 50 GlobeChangers and mentors in our system.
Ten Year Goal: In the next ten years, our goal is to identify, mentor and train 10,000 GlobeChangers – a cadre of tomorrow’s leaders.

National Partners
To help us achieve our goals, we have created important national partnerships such as the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, NFL Player Engagement, Youth Service America, Deloitte, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Yale University, All Stars Helping Kids with Ronnie Lott, Heinz, Allstate, Safeway, AstraZeneca, Prudential, Aramark, HP, DuPont, VISA, Wells Fargo and many others.


U.S. Congressman John Lewis Civil Rights Leader, 2006 Honoree with Teresa Heinz Kerry and Ellen Burstyn


Board Member Chris Wallace emcees the 2008 JA National Ceremony. Chris Wallace is the host of FOX News Sunday.




U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, National Honoree, 2008 with Board Members Jack Russi and Lee Ault Carter


Academy Award Winner Paul Newman. Honored in the U.S. Supreme Court, with Sally Pillsbury