The Congressional Award, the highest honor Congress bestows upon young people, was established by Congress in 1979 to honor and promote achievements in volunteer, physical fitness and personal exploration by America’s youth. The award offers young people ages 14-23 the opportunity to develop and achieve goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration. Participants can earn up to six levels of accommodation, ranging from Bronze Certificate to Gold Medal.
The Congressional Award is set apart by its open enrollment and non-competitive nature. There are no minimum grade point average requirements and those with special needs and disabilities are accommodated. Participants are able to fully engage themselves within their work by setting their own pace and personalizing their goals. More than 3.5 million volunteer hours and more than 49,000 Congressional Awards have been earned over the years. A Gold Medal ceremony is held on Capitol Hill each year.