Tools and tips for navigating through The Congressional Award during COVID-19

A letter to our community:

We realize this is an uncertain time and it is becoming increasingly difficult to complete your Congressional Award activities.

Luckily, our program is designed to be flexible for participants and our team remains available for you as we enter uncharted territory together.

We’ll get through this together by extending our kindness, keeping healthy, and remaining connected virtually.

Your friends at The Congressional Award

It’s helpful to remember…

1) Participants have until their 24th birthday to complete any level of the award, removing any perceived timeline pressure and allowing participants to safely and comfortably complete their activities.

2) Activities DO NOT have to be logged in consecutive months. You may pause your goals and resume them at any point, completing the program at your own pace.

3) During the next few months, our team is prepared show more leniency with direct vs. indirect service requirements, enabling participants to complete the bulk of their activities from the safety of their homes.

4) Participants may change or adjust their goals to suit social distancing and self-isolation practices.

Creative service ideas that fit social distancing

-Volunteering remotely for non-profit organizations

-Assisting public schools with the implementation of remote learning and/or helping educators with grading/administrative work

-Virtual tutoring/mentoring

-Packaging and delivering essential supplies to the elderly or home-bound or to students who rely on meals from their schools

-Organizing digital fundraisers for non-profits or crisis response groups

-Writing letters to those serving in the armed forces abroad, children in medical isolation, or persons under quarantine

-Making articles of clothing for hospital patients

-Donating blood the safe way

Many organizations are offering free online classes, webinars, and workshops that can be completed from home. These may be creative solutions to accomplish goals in other programs like Personal Development and Physical Fitness.


COVID-19 Updates – Learn how we are responding.

Program Book – Download this guide for your one-stop-shop to the program.

Record Book – Set your goals and document your activities on the Record Book.

Contact Us – Need assistance? Find your program manager and receive a quick response.

Media Center – Stay up to speed with the latest news and updates from Congress’ award for youth, join our email list, and connect with other participants and supporters on social media.

Coronavirus: How We Are Responding

We are all grappling with an issue of immense magnitude. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

There is no higher priority to our entire Congressional Award family than the safety of our participants, staff, and volunteers.

To play a constructive role in the containment of the disease, we have taken the following measures in accordance with recommendations from national and local authorities:

1) We are closely monitoring the rapidly changing public health environment

We’re practicing sanitary protocols and best practices to mitigate risks set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

2) ALL national and local events previously scheduled from March 17 – April 30 will be canceled until further notice

These events include:
MAR 29 – Florida’s 18th District Ceremony (Palm Beach Gardens)
APR 04 – Missouri Statewide Ceremony (St. Louis)
APR 07 – Nebraska Statewide Ceremony (Bellevue)
APR 19 – Mississippi Statewide Ceremony (Tupelo)
APR 25 – Nevada Statewide Ceremony (Las Vegas)

Our office will work with event organizers to determine the appropriate next steps, including rescheduling events. In addition, we recommend that in-person contact (local award presentations, meetings, participant program activities) not be conducted during this time.

3) Congressional Award staff members are working from home indefinitely

We are also encouraging staff to limit travel and conduct meetings virtually. Our team is optimized for and comfortable with remote work so there will be no significant change in service or support.

4) However, expect delays in review time for Record Book submissions and processing of new registrations

During this work from home period, our team will not have access to our office to complete mailings and review hard copy submissions.

5) The best way to reach us is by email or through the Contact Us form

6) Visit this page for ways to navigate through The Congressional Award during COVID-19, including creative activity ideas that suit social distancing and self-isolation.

This continues to be an evolving situation, and we will continue to adjust our policies and procedures in accordance with recommendations from national and local authorities to ensure the safety of our community.

Thank you for your understanding and trust. We are prepared to navigate through these challenging circumstances with your safety at the forefront of everything we do.

-The Congressional Award Team

Ford’s Pamela Alexander, Larry H. Miller’s Amanda Covington Join Congressional Award Board of Directors

Washington, DC (March 10, 2020) — The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of Pamela Alexander and Amanda Covington to the National Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“We’re privileged to welcome Amanda and Pamela to our team during a time of growth and innovation for our organization. Each bring unique talents and perspectives that will strengthen our leadership and tighten our focus on the future of Congress’ award program for youth,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award Board of Directors.

Pamela Alexander is Director of Community Development for Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company.

In this position she is responsible for leading Ford Fund’s community engagement and outreach initiatives with key non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. These include Ford Fund’s nationally recognized teen driving program, Driving Skills for Life, multicultural and women’s initiatives, and community development programs.

Prior to her appointment in the Ford Fund, Pamela held a variety of positions in the Ford Motor Company Governmental Affairs office, ranging from policy development on strategic issues and manager of the Company’s PAC and grassroots activities.

Ms. Alexander dedicates her time and has served on various nonprofit boards including the GRAMMY Museum Foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the NAACP Foundation, the Memorial Foundation, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Dean’s Advisory Committee of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Recognized as one of Ebony Magazines 2020 Power 100, Ms. Alexander has also been honored with a “High Heels in High Places” award by the Trumpet Foundation, a “Corporate Trailblazer” award from Rainbow PUSH, the Community Service award from the Arab American and Chaldean Council, and was in African Americans on Wheels as one of the auto industry’s most influential African-American women.

Amanda Covington is Chief Communications & Government Relations Officer for the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.

She recently served as Senior Vice President, Communications and Government Relations for Vista Outdoor Inc. Covington has more than 20 years of experience leading corporate communications and government relations strategies impacting financial communications, crisis communications, domestic and international media/public relations, corporate branding and advertising, digital media, employee relations, public policy and legislation, industry associations, and community relations.

Covington serves as both a trustee and a board member for the Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service for Weber State University, an advisory board member for the Utah Women’s Leadership Institute, a member of the University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Science Advancement Board, and a board member of the Utah chapter of National Association of Corporate Directors.

Learn more about Pamela and Amanda here.

The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Call for 2020 Gold Medal Record Books

Going for Gold this year?

In order to be eligible for the 2020 Gold Medal class, participants must meet two deadlines:
Record Books are due no later than February 1, 2020
Revisions are due no later than March 15, 2020

Are you planning to be part of the annual Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. this summer? Be sure to submit your Gold Medal Record Book to the national office no later than February 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m ET. This is a postmark, email, and fax deadline.

Submissions made after February 1st will be grouped with the 2021 Gold Medal class.

If you currently have a submission in review or pending, you have until March 15, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET to submit any revisions.

Unsure about your status?
Contact your state’s program manager with your question.

Meet the 2020 Gold Medal class:
Once again, this year’s class is on pace to be the largest in program history. See where each hail from.

$25.00 Registration Fee Takes Effect January 1, 2020

The participant registration fee will increase from $15.00 USD to $25.00 USD for all new enrollees. This new policy will take effect on January 1, 2020.

Participants that have already registered are in no way affected by the fee increase. Those that register online prior to 12:00 a.m. ET on January 1, 2020 will continue to pay the one-time $15.00 USD registration fee.

The registration fee will be used to offset increased program and administrative costs associated with the day-to-day business of the organization – including new program materials and postage. As The Congressional Award is completely privately funded, the fee increase will help maintain the quality of the program from initial registration through the Gold Medal level for every youth.

As always, The Congressional Award Foundation strives to maintain a low cost for all young people participating in the program. The last change in the fee structure was in January 2011 when the registration fee increased from $10.00 USD to $15.00 USD per participant.

It is important to note that the registration fee is not designed to prohibit or deter new participants from enrolling in the program. Youth that need financial assistance should contact the National Office at (202) 226-0130 or

People to People International Offers STEM Focused Iceland Trip to Congressional Award Participants

Washington, DC (December 10, 2019) — The Congressional Award Foundation and People to People International have partnered to send participants on the adventure of a lifetime next summer.

The Congressional Award Foundation has worked with partners like People to People International through the STEM Stars Initiative to make STEM more accessible to students. This effort has resulted in 84,103 hours of STEM activities among Congressional Award participants, and has doubled in participation in the last 12 months.

This student travel program is offered exclusively for youth who are registered for The Congressional Award and at least 16 years of age on the date of departure.

The trip will take place from July 28 – August 04, 2020 and will be anchored in the capital city of Reykjavik, visiting exciting destinations like the Fridheimar Greenhouse, Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Deildartunguhver thermal spring, Blue Lagoon, and whale and puffin watching along the Icelandic shore.

View the itinerary and book your trip through People to People International. Direct questions to Nicole Randall at (816) 531-4701 or

About The Congressional Award
The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

About People to People International
In 1956, the People to People International Foundation was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower with a mission to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural, and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences between people of diverse cultures. Learn more at

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Southern California Student Leaders Earn Congress’ Award for Youth

Yorba Linda, CA (November 14, 2019) — On Saturday, November 9, 2019, The Congressional Award Southern California Ceremony presented by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. recognized nearly 200 student leaders for personal goal-setting and acts of citizenship.

U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (CA-27), Gil Cisneros (CA-39), and Katie Porter (CA-45) presented the awards on behalf of the United States Congress at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California.

U.S. Representatives Chu and Porter present The Congressional Award Silver Medal to Thomas Williamson of Anaheim Hills.

“It is my privilege to honor these incredible youth with The Congressional Award, the highest award for youth legislated and presented by the United States Congress,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu. “In order to qualify, these honorees have volunteered their time to achieve goals in public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration. I have been so impressed by the creativity and care demonstrated by these young people. Their devotion to success is a benefit to our entire area, and an example to others. Congratulations!”

The event was made possible by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., who served as the Title Sponsor. On a journey of creativity and innovation for more than 95 years, the San Francisco based global pharmaceutical business has not only discovered and developed treatments for complex medical conditions – but made a deliberate effort to engage youth in local communities.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.

Congressman Cisneros delivers remarks the recipients and guests.“I want to congratulate all 22 recipients of The Congressional Award for California’s 39th district,” said Congressman Gil Cisneros. “I am constantly impressed by the abundance of talented youth in our community. Their unwavering commitment to improving themselves and others around them is truly inspiring. The Congressional Award program has challenged our youth, and it is great to see CA-39 students answering the call and not only exceeding, but demonstrating that they will be future leaders. It was a privilege to recognize each of the awardees accomplishments and join their families in celebration.”

The ceremony also borrowed the talents of FOX 5 San Diego’s Chris Murphy as master of ceremonies.

After the ceremony, recipients and guests were able to tour the presidential library and museum.

“As a UC Irvine professor, I’ve witnessed up close and personal the tenacity and compassion of young people in our community,” Congresswoman Katie Porter said. “I was proud to recognize the accomplishments of the 187 Congressional Award recipients from Southern California, and I look forward to seeing what they’ll accomplish in the future.”

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.

Congressional Awardees receive recognition for their accomplishment.California ranks number one in both the number of enrolled participants and Congressional Awards earned annually. The Golden State’s 24th-53rd congressional districts have produced 7,431 awardees all-time. There are currently 6,535 participants pursuing the award in the region. The 187 Congressional Award Medalists honored this year contributed 38,749 hours of voluntary public service to their communities.

Download the program for event details and full recipient list.

The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Atrium Health’s Jim Dunn Brings Expertise in Culture, Diversity and Inclusion to Congressional Award Board of Directors

Washington, DC (November 5, 2019) — Elected to The Congressional Award Foundation’s National Board of Directors in June 2019, Jim Dunn has since helped steer the organization’s recruitment strategy and participant engagement by focusing on inclusion and creating content that inspires.

Jim Dunn, PhD, DHA, DAST, FACHE, currently serves as Executive Vice President and System Chief Human Resources Officer for Atrium Health, one of the most comprehensive and highly integrated not-for-profit healthcare systems in the nation. As a member of the executive leadership team, Dunn leads teams that focus on the engagement of Atrium Health teammates – from recruitment through retirement.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected to serve on The Congressional Award Foundation Board as the U.S. Congress’ only charity and award program for youth,” said Dunn. “Its mission of recognizing initiative, service, and overall achievement aligns with both Atrium Health’s mission of health, hope and healing for all but also my own personal passion of developing future generations of workforce leaders.”

Dunn is revered as a national expert in culture, diversity and inclusion, and the employee experience.

Prior to joining Atrium Health in April 2018, Jim served as Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Officer for Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, Texas, Human Resources and Learning Executive for the Cleveland Clinic, Chief Learning Officer for Texas Health Resources, and National Vice President of Human Resources and Talent Retention Strategies for the American Cancer Society.

His work history also includes progressively responsible roles as a research scientist with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and leading the global human resources operations for former President Jimmy Carter at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta.

Among his notable achievements, Dunn has received the Outstanding Business Leader Award from the Dallas Business Journal, the South Dallas Outstanding Leader Award, and the Global Strategic HR and OD Award from the Organizational Development Institute for his work on informal cultures. He also was named among the 2018 Most Influential African-Americans in Corporate America by Savoy Magazine.

Dunn holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and macro-environmental science from Howard University, a master’s degree in business administration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Master of Public Health degree in occupational health from Emory University. Additionally, he holds multiple doctoral degrees in education, organizational development, and healthcare administration from Emory University, Benedictine University, and the Medical University of South Carolina, respectively.

He has served as adjunct and distinguished faculty for multiple universities including the Harvard School of Public Health, MIT Sloan School of Management, Morehouse School of Medicine, Emory University, University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Dallas.

He is also a state registered professional mediator, specializing in workplace conflict resolution strategies, and a fellow (FACHE) and faculty member of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Merrill Eisenhower Atwater, Vanessa Green Sinders Elected to Congressional Award Board of Directors

Washington, DC (October 24, 2019) —The Congressional Award Foundation announces the election of Merrill Eisenhower Atwater and Vanessa Green Sinders to the National Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“These additions to the Board of Directors truly bolster our already impressive team,” said Paxton K. Baker, Chairman of The Congressional Award National Board of Directors. “Merrill and Vanessa each bring unique skill sets from their respective industries and will play a vital role in shaping the future and direction of our organization.”

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater is the Chief Executive Officer of People to People International. Since assuming this role in 2018, he has conducted a campaign of global partnership and understanding.

As both a globally and locally recognized influential leader, Merrill has been recognized with numerous honors and awards. He was recently chosen as the Honorary Ambassador to Chuncheon City in South Korea, was recognized nationally by the Federal Aviation Administration for his work in Kansas Aviation with the Impact Award, and was also included in Business Magazine, Ingram’s 40 Under 40.

Before joining People to People International, he served as the Director of Aviation for the state of Kansas and held numerous successful positions conducting international business and relations for global companies.

Merrill is the great-grandson of President Dwight D. Eisenhower and has been a long-term ambassador for The Congressional Award Foundation.

Vanessa Green Sinders is the Senior Vice President for Federal Legislative Affairs at Charter Communications.

In this role, she is responsible for directing the company’s strategic policy and political engagement with Congress and the Administration.

Previously, Vanessa served as the Senior Vice President and Department Head for Government Affairs at the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Chief of Staff for the Campaign to Fix the Debt.

Additionally, Vanessa spent almost ten years working in the U.S. Senate where she served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Policy Director for U.S. Senator Judd Gregg.

Learn more about Merrill and Vanessa here.

The Congressional Award is the United States Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a youth civilian through the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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Remembering Elijah Cummings

October 17, 2019 (Washington, DC) – Today we mourn the loss of an American patriot, long term Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings.

A Baltimore native, Congressman Cummings was an attorney and civil rights advocate who served in Maryland’s state legislature before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996. Most recently, Cummings served as Chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Left to Right: Chairman Paxton Baker, Gold Medalist Veronica Wheelan, Congressman Elijah Cummings. June 2013

Rep. Cummings will forever be remembered as a model public servant. He dedicated his life to uplifting and empowering the community he represented.

It was our privilege to work with Congressman Cummings in recognizing Maryland youth with The Congressional Award for several decades. As his official biography stated, “Congressman Cummings often says that our children are the living messages that we send to a future we will never see.”

Congressman Cummings entertains the crowd before he presents the Horizon Award to fellow Baltimore native and American record executive Kevin Liles. June 2014

Our condolences are with the Cummings family and his wide-reaching band of supporters during this time of grieving.

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