Adult volunteers are extremely important to the Congressional Award. Together, we work in partnership for the betterment of America’s youth.
With the help of adult Advisors and volunteers, we have been able to reach out to youth groups, schools, and community organizations across the country. Groups such as Boys & Girls Clubs, 4-H, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, HOBY, YMCA, Outward Bound, and various Air Force youth centers have brought the Congressional Award Program to new heights. With the help of teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors, we have been able to involve school organizations such as Junior ROTC, Key Clubs, FBLA, Junior Achievement, and many others. We have also worked with Congressional Offices that have been instrumental in our efforts to reach out to young people across the nation.
The Advisor’s Role and Responsibilities
- Affirm that the participant has registered with The Congressional Award.
- With the participant, review The Congressional Award requirements and guidelines as provided in the Program Book.
- Assist the participant in setting goals that are personally challenging, achievable, worthwhile, measurable, and fulfilling.
- Help the participant identify appropriate activities and qualified Validators for each goal.
- Maintain periodic contact with the participant while he or she works toward The Congressional Award.
- If the participant needs to revise goals, help him or her set new goals and find activities to achieve them.
- Encourage the participant to obtain written comments and signatures from his or her validators as soon as an individual goal has been met.
- Once the participant has completed the set activities for a given Award level, review his or her records and help complete the Record Book. Please be sure to provide comments. Make certain that you and the participant keep a photocopy of the Record Book.
- Once the participant has mailed in the Record Book, work with him or her to set new goals and begin working on the next level of the Award.
The Validator’s Role and Responsibilities
- Review The Congressional Award requirements and guidelines listed in the participant’s program booklet.
- Discuss the specific requirements for the program area in which you’ll be working with the participant.
- Help the participant identify his or her starting level in a particular area of endeavor.
- Make certain that the participant’s goal is personally challenging, achievable, worthwhile, measurable, and fulfilling.
- Once minimum hours and months of activity have been met in your program area, review all of the appropriate documentation and sign the Record Book. Please be sure to provide comments.
The role of the Advisor is to mentor or help young people in their work towards the Award. The resources below should help answer any questions or clarify the program.
The beauty of The Congressional Award is that it can easily compliment the many activities that are already taking place in schools and organizations across the country. Implementing the program should not require any new commitment of additional resources. Young people engaged in activities such as improving musical skills, developing athletic abilities, or volunteering in the community could use these and many other pursuits to earn a Congressional Award.
The National Office is always looking for volunteers to help spread the word about The Congressional Award. If you are interested in promoting the program in your area, please contact us at (202) 226-0130 to request materials and information. The items below have been made available for you to download.
Here are some easy steps to follow to get started:
Learn about The Congressional Award
- Request an information packet and materials from the National Office.
- View the Power Point Presentation.
- Sign up to receive monthly email updates to learn about current Congressional Award news and events.
- Recruit Youth and Other Adult Leaders
Set up a meeting at your local high school, Boy Scout/Girl Scout Council, YMCA, or any youth group to present the program to key leaders and/or youth
- Use the PowerPoint presentation, Congressional Award video, posters or handouts provided by the National Office.
- If you already work with youth, introduce the program to your students or youth group.
- Create a link from your organization’s website to The Congressional Award website using our logo.
Meet with Interested Youth
- If you would like to become an Advisor, meet with your participant or group of participants to help set goals and plan activities. Be sure to have all youth register for The Congressional Award program by mailing in the Registration Form, fee and waiver to the National Office.
Who can serve as an Advisor or Validator?
Any adult may serve as the Advisor or Validator, with the exception of the young person’s parent, relative or friends.
Does the Award match young people and Advisors?
No, we do not match young people and Advisors. Participants need to find their own Advisor. The Advisor is an important role that the young person should fill with someone they personally want to learn from. The participant should choose someone that they know and trust and feel comfortable talking to about their goals and activities. Suitable Advisors in the past have been teachers, counselors, neighbors, family friends, Pastors, Scout Leaders, 4-H Advisors, coaches, etc. The only stipulation in choosing an Advisor is that the Advisor is not related to or a peer of the participant.
Does the Advisor need to register or go through training?
No, the Advisor does not need to register with us and we do not require a training in order to serve in this role. When a young person registers for the Award, they must include their Advisors name and contact information. Everything is participant based – we expect to communicate directly with the young person and include the Advisor when appropriate.
What is the time commitment of the Advisor?
The time commitment depends on the relationship with the Advisor. Some Advisors have worked with their participants on a monthly check-in basis while others check in only when there is a roadblock or a goal or record book is complete. On average, we have found that Advisors tend to spend about 2-3 hours working with a young person when they are setting goals, then maybe once a month for check in (as needed) and then 2-3 hours when the young person is preparing the Record Book for submission. The Advisor role was not designed or intended to be a burden on the Advisor, but a way for a young person to branch out and begin making connections in the world and learning from individuals beyond their family.
Who is Eligible to serve as an Advisor or Validator?
Any adult may serve as an Advisor or Validator with the exception of parents, relatives, and peers. Congressional Award Gold Medal earners may also serve, regardless of their age. Keep in mind that it is the responsibility of the young people to identify their Advisor and Validators.
Advisors meet with the young people while they set personally challenging goals, stay in touch while the participant pursues the Award, and provide assistance with the Record Book detailing their goals and activities. Teachers, coaches, neighbors, club sponsors, and civic leaders all make excellent advisors.
The appropriate Validator depends on the participant’s activities. Validators should be knowledgeable in the activities a participant pursues to achieve a particular goal. For example, if a young person’s goal and activities involved basketball, a coach would make a suitable validator. Similarly, if a young person volunteered at an animal shelter, an employee or the volunteer coordinator would be an appropriate validator.
Why Advisors and Validators?
As an Advisor or Validator, you play an important role in a young person’s pursuit of the Congressional Award. To earn the Award, participants set goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service; Personal Development; Physical Fitness; and Expedition/Exploration. Advisors guide participants through the goal-setting process in each of the four program areas and monitor their progress toward the Congressional Award. Validators assist the participant with individual activities.
While any 14 to 23 year old may pursue a Congressional Award, it takes the commitment of volunteer adults to help them realize their potential. Your part in the Congressional Award is essential. Your guidance will be remembered long after the participant successfully meets his or her goals and is presented a Bronze, Silver, or Gold Certificate or Medal by the United States Congress.
The Inspiration Award
The Inspiration Award is given each year to an outstanding Congressional Award Advisor on behalf of the Joint Leadership of the United States Congress and the Congressional Award Foundation Board of Directors. The Inspiration Award is presented during the annual Gold Medal Recognition Dinner before Medalists, their families and Members of Congress. The leadership and service provided by each Inspiration Awardee through the Congressional Award program has been just that, an inspiration.
2016 Inspiration Award Honoree, Mr. & Mrs. Michael O’Conner
Laura and Michael O’Connor met in 1986, where they had their first date the night Laura received her Silver Congressional Medal from her local Congressman. The night went on and as they started to get to know each other, they realized that they both were awardees for The Congressional Award Foundation. Michael had received his Gold Medal just 1 year prior in 1985. The happy couple were married in August of 1988 in Los Angeles, California and the rest was history.
They currently reside in Eagle Mountain, Utah, where they have raised their three Beautiful children: Ashleigh (Gold Medalist), McKenna (Gold Medalist), and Michael (Silver Medalist, striving for the Gold Medal). Michael is the Athletic Director at Westlake High School. Laura is the Registrar for Vista Heights Middle School, the Young Women Camp Director for her church as well as the HOBY Utah Scholarship Coordinator. Starting young Laura and Michael taught their children to go above and beyond in all that they do. Being a medalist with the Congressional Foundation has now become an ongoing tradition in their family and will be passed on generation to generation. After they watched two of their three children receive scholarships, internships and jobs because of this award, it pushed them to promote it even more.
Laura has been involved with the Congressional Award Foundation since she was 15 years of age. Laura works with youth ages 11 – 18 on a daily basis. She strives to promote the Congressional Award Foundation at every school meeting, school fundraiser, district meeting, city council meetings, back to school nights and much more. She shares the love that she has for this program with everyone that she comes in contact with. Laura inserts a pamphlet with every new registration that comes across her desk at work, in hopes to help the youth in today’s world become strong, confident and successful.
Michael has been involved with the Congressional Award Foundation since he was 20 years of age. Michael works and coaches’ youth ages 14-23 at work, on the basketball court and on business trips. He works with students daily and never fails to share his knowledge about the award and how highly it has impacted his life and where he is today.
Since 2011 Laura and Michael have gone above and beyond in recruiting and promoting this award. They have become advisers for over 500 Utahan Youth. Which means they have signed up at least 100 youth each year to receive this award, and they are with them through the entire journey. They want today’s youth to be successful, and that is what they promote and guide them to be.
Laura and Michael believe that service leads to happiness. They serve others in all that they do and they don’t hesitate when an opportunity arises to serve or help someone in need. This quality is what makes them such powerful, and strong advisers. The youth that they work with look up to them, not only as advisers but as examples in their life. The love that they share with these youth is what separates them from anyone else. Laura and Michael care about each and every one of their students and applicants for this award.
2015 | Mrs. Mary Rodgers, Pennsylvania
2014 | Mrs. Julie Sorensen & Mrs. Michele Tadlock, Nebraska
2013 | Ms. Betsy Gibson, Florida
2012 | Dr. Babs Bennett, New Jersey
2010 | Mrs. Helen Gannon, Missouri
2009 | Ms. Jessie Blair, New Jersey
2008 | Mrs. Elaine Steinbacher, Pennsylvania
2007 | Mr. and Mrs. Rick and Cindy Jesinger, Idaho