Find out answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Jefferson Awards.
What are the Jefferson Awards?
The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious national recognition system honoring community and public service in America. The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Today, their primary purpose is to serve as a "Call to Action for Volunteers" in local communities.
Why are the Awards named after Thomas Jefferson?
The Board felt that Thomas Jefferson best reflected the spirit of excellence in America author of the Declaration of Independence, President of the United States, advocate for education as the strength of our democracy and founder of the University of Virginia, and advocate for a free press and freedom of religion.
What is the Mission of the Jefferson Awards?
The mission of the Jefferson Awards is to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. Through our Media Partners we seek to inspire volunteering in local communities. Through our Champions, we seek to energize volunteering in the workplace. Through our Youth Service Initiative, we seek to double volunteering in high schools.
Who selects the National Winners and who are they?
The Board of Selectors chooses the winners. The national Jefferson Awards honorees are a "Who's Who" of American history makers. They have included: Barbara Bush, Rosalynn Carter, Colin Powell, Peyton Manning, Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong, Sandra Day O'Connor and Alan Greenspan.
Each year, one winner is selected in each of four categories:
- Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official
- Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen
- Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged
- Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 Years or Under
Who selects the Local Winners and who are they?
The Jefferson Awards has over 150 Media Partners in 0ver 90 communities across the country. A local panel of judges selects the winners who are grassroots. These Media Partners are major local newspapers, television and radio stations. Most Media Partners honor a volunteer each monthly or weekly. Some honor five or six at an annual ceremony.
The local winners are grassroots "Unsung Heroes" ordinary individuals who are performing extraordinary deeds.
How do these Local Winners get to the national level?
From each community, the Jefferson Awards Board selects one local winner to represent their community and be honored as part of the National Ceremonies in Washington, DC in June. 50 to 60 U.S. Senators present these winners their award. The Board of Selectors picks five of these to receive the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for "Outstanding Community Service Benefiting Local Communities." They stand side by side with the four other national award winners.
What are Jefferson Awards Champions?
In 2006 the Jefferson Awards created Jefferson Awards Champions to recognize and encourage volunteering in the workplace. The Champions include major corporations, small businesses, colleges and universities and local governments.
What is The Jefferson Awards Youth Service Initiative?
The Jefferson Awards have joined with our Deloitte & Touché to encourage volunteering in high schools. We are training high schools students in lifelong leadership skills. We are using these students and adult Mentors from our Champions to double volunteering in the participating schools and pass the tradition of service on to the next generation.
Who funds the Jefferson Awards?
Donations are received from hundreds of individuals, corporations and foundations. We have a small endowment to help underwrite our costs.