The Congressional Award Foundation Welcomes Senator Lummis to National Board

Washington, DC (May 19, 2021) —U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has appointed Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) to the Congressional Award National Board of Directors.

Established in 1979, The Congressional Award National Board of Directors is comprised of 24 members, with each of the four leaders of Congress appointing six Members.  The Board oversees the Congressional Award program – Congress’ highest award for youth.

“Senator Lummis brings years of experience in public service and a passion for youth development to the Board,” said Chairman of the Board Paxton Baker.  “The Congressional Award looks forward to Senator Lummis’ involvement as a champion of the program and recognition of its deeply rooted history in Wyoming.”

“Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop was a driving force behind the creation of the Congressional Award, and the students in my state of Wyoming have been proud and enthusiastic participants in the Congressional Award program since its founding over 40 years ago.” Senator Lummis said.  “I’m honored to serve on the national Board of Directors, and to continue Senator Wallop’s great legacy.”

Cynthia Lummis is the junior senator from Wyoming, and the first female Senator ever elected to represent the Equality State. She first served the state in the state House and Senate, as the state treasurer, and as the at-large member of the U.S. House of Representatives before being sworn into the U.S. Senate earlier this year. Senator Lummis and her late husband have one daughter, and two grandsons.

The Congressional Award is U.S. Congress’ only charity and the highest honor bestowed upon a young person through the Senate and House. Established by Congress as a public-private partnership in 1979 under Public Law 96-114, the program encourages and recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 14-23. Visit www.congressionalaward.org to learn more about the program.

 

Contact:

Name: Bethie Woodall
Congressional Award
Email: woodall@congressionalaward.org

 

Social Media Channels
– Facebook: The Congressional Award

– Twitter: The Congressional Award

– Instagram: The Congressional Award

– YouTube: The Congressional Award

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

U.S. Congress Recognizes 404 California Students for Achievements in Service and Personal Development

 

   

April 27, 2021 – Last week, Members of Congress in California recognized 404 Bronze, Silver and Gold medalists from The Golden State. Presented by Otsuka, the 2021 Congressional Award California statewide ceremony provided an opportunity for elected officials to connect with their young constituents and recognize them for their hard work over the past year.  Members of Congress in attendance included Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33), Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (CA-38), and Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27).

 

Innes Meldrum, SVP & Chief Commercial Officer of Otsuka, kicked off the ceremony with congratulatory remarks for the students and discussed the importance of mental health for youth during this time.  “Otsuka’s purpose is to ‘defy limitation, so that others can too’ and that guides everything we do as an organization. Given the many challenges youth have faced this past year, from limited social interaction with friends, to restricted school and sporting activities to name a few, each of the awardees have overcome obstacles to achieve their goals and exemplify this purpose, so I am delighted to see them honored today by the Congressional Awards Foundation.”

 

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33) led the ceremony and commended the students for taking on Congress’ challenge for youth, even in the midst of a pandemic. “It is truly inspiring to see a group of students this large and spanning so many different skillsets, hobbies, and interests, commit to exploring their passions and give aid to communities across the state.”  Congressman Lieu’s district falls within the top 5 Congressional Districts in regards to program participation across the country.

 

As a state, California boasts the highest youth participation in The Congressional Award program, making up almost 15% of participants nationwide. In the past year alone, participants from California have logged over 115,400 hours of Voluntary Public Service in their communities.

 

Megan Wang of West Lake High School in Thousand Oaks, CA reflected on her time since registering for The Congressional Award program back in 2018, “The experiences I’ve had have allowed me to become a more compassionate person and an involved member of my community.” Megan earned her Silver Medal in the height of the pandemic this past summer and additionally will join the 2021 Gold Medal Class and be recognized for her achievements on a national scale this coming summer.

About

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. Learn more at www.congressionalaward.org.

 

Contact:

Name: Bethie Woodall
Congressional Award
Email: woodall@congressionalaward.org

 

Social Media Channels
– Facebook: The Congressional Award

– Twitter: The Congressional Award

– Instagram: The Congressional Award

– YouTube: The Congressional Award

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

U.S. Congress Recognizes 54 Georgia Students for Achievements in Service and Personal Development

 

   

APRIL 15, 2021 – Students across the Peach State came together for the first Annual Congressional Award Georgia Statewide Ceremony.  Presented by Aflac, the virtual event recognized 54 youth medalists for their dedication to bettering their communities through voluntary public service in addition to achieving long-term personal goals.

 

The ceremony was led by Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA-11) and Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA06) – who represent the congressional districts with the highest number of medalists from GA this year.  Speakers and presenters also included Congressman Buddy Carter (GA-01), Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), Congresswoman Carolyn Bourdeaux (GA-07), and Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA02).

 

Brad Knox, Senior Vice President and Counsel at Aflac, reflected on the positive impact of the program on Georgia’s students, “The Congressional Award program helps recognize the positive contributions of America’s youth and today we celebrate those students who have met their goals and found ways to give back to their communities.” He continued, “You all have contributed to the betterment of Georgia in such a positive and inspiring way.”

 

Congresswoman McBath commended the students for their efforts, “The commitment, time, and energy you have dedicated has allowed you to flourish as individuals as you have diligently worked to improve our communities. Even the smallest act of service goes along way and can change a person’s life forever.”

 

Congressman Loudermilk extended appreciation to the entire Congressional Award community by recognizing “the parents, the teachers, the community leaders and, most importantly, the students” for their willingness to step up.

 

Bronze Medalist Rishan Patel of Atlanta shared the most rewarding part of earning his award was “the feeling of accomplishing something new out of my comfort zone.” Georgia’s student participation in the Congressional Award program continues to grow steadily, largely due to Aflac’s support in the region.

 

About

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. Learn more at www.congressionalaward.org.

Contact:

Name: Bethie Woodall
Congressional Award
Email: woodall@congressionalaward.org

 

Social Media Channels
– Facebook: The Congressional Award

– Twitter: The Congressional Award

– Instagram: The Congressional Award

– YouTube: The Congressional Award

 

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

Members of Congress Recognize 87 New Jersey Students for Achievements in Service and STEM

 

 

 

 

WHIPPANY, N.J., March 31, 2021 – Students across the Garden State gathered last week for The Congressional Award 2021 New Jersey Virtual Statewide Ceremony.  Presented by Bayer, the event recognized 87 youth medalists for their dedication to bettering their communities through voluntary public service in addition to achieving long-term personal goals.

The ceremony was led by Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, who represents New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District – home to Bayer US. Additional Congressional speakers included Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03), Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), and Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-07).

Patrick Lockwood-Taylor, President of Bayer U.S., offered opening remarks for the event. “The Congressional Award program helps recognize the positive contributions of America’s youth. Today we celebrate those students who have met their goals and found ways to give back to their communities in extremely meaningful ways,” he said.

Congresswoman Sherrill was the first among the lawmakers in attendance to offer words of encouragement to the honorees. “The Congressional Award program provides the roadmap, but it’s each of you that is able to take control of the journey and make it your own with the goal of bettering our community, our state, and our nation,” she said.

Joining Lockwood-Taylor was SVP and Head of Corporate Affairs for Bayer in the U.S. Raymond F. Kerins, Jr.  Kerins, who is also a Congressional Award Board Member, spoke on the STEM Stars program, an initiative established by Bayer in 2018 which recognizes Gold Medalists who participate in STEM-related activities as part of their Congressional Award pursuits. “We’ve seen the STEM Stars program flourish and encourage young achievers all across the United States to explore their passion in science, technology, engineering, and math,” he said.

In addition to recognizing youth medalists for their achievements over the past year, the event was also open to Congressional Award participants who are currently working on earning their certificate or medal. Breakout groups during the event offered current participants a chance to network with their peers and members of Congress, as well as learn from medalists about their Congressional Award journeys.

“My favorite part was connecting with the world through my community service, and being able to take my initiatives online,” noted Silver Medalist Ishani Sengupta of Edison, NJ.  New Jersey remained one of The Congressional Award’s highest-participating states even throughout the pandemic, as students adjusted their activities to complete them safely and remotely.

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. Learn more at www.congressionalaward.org.

About Bayer

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to help people and planet thrive by supporting efforts to master the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to drive sustainable development and generate a positive impact with its businesses. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. The Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2020, the Group employed around 100,000 people and had sales of 41.4 billion euros. R&D expenses before special items amounted to 4.9 billion euros. For more information, go to www.bayer.com.

Contacts:

Name: Bethie Woodall
Congressional Award
Email: woodall@congressionalaward.org

Name: Carolyn Nagle
Bayer U.S.
Email: carolyn.nagle@bayer.com
Mobile: 201-419-0337

 

Social Media Channels
– Facebook: The Congressional Award | BayerUnitedStates

– Twitter: The Congressional AwardBayerUS

– Instagram: The Congressional Award | BayerUS

– YouTube: The Congressional Award | BayerUS

 

Bayer® and the Bayer Cross® are registered trademarks of Bayer.

 

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

Ford Fund, Congressional Award Foundation Partner to Offer Emotional Health Workshops for Teens

 

Friday, March 19, 2021 The Congressional Award Foundation (CAF) teamed up with Ford Motor Company Fund (Ford Fund) to conduct free, interactive, virtual mental health workshops for young people in response to the impact on teens during the pandemic.

 

The series of workshops targeted students in Detroit, MI, Houston, TX, and Kansas City, MO, key communities under the foundation’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion outreach program.  Each virtual workshop brought together mental health professionals, high school students and Members of Congress – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), who provided words of encouragement and shared their own experiences with battling mental health challenges during the pandemic.

 

During last week’s Kansas City workshop, Congressman Cleaver emphasized his long-standing commitment to ending the stigma around treating mental illness, stating, “Remember, it is okay to seek help, and you are not alone in this.” The Congressman has sponsored various related bills such as HR3192 – Improving Mental Health Access for Students Act, HR4327 – Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, HR5469 – Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act, and more.

 

Pamela Alexander of the Ford Fund emphasized the importance of tending to one’s mental health in this period of relative isolation, especially as a young person. “The COVID pandemic, and its impacts, has profoundly affected the mental health and well-being of many teens,” said Alexander, Director, Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund, “Ford Fund is proud to have partnered with the Congressional Award Foundation since early in the pandemic to address this critical issue.”

 

Through the CAF’s increased focus on virtual curriculum, the series of mental health-focused workshops has provided students with a network of support, concrete actions, and quality resources to combat the adverse effects on mental health.  The CAF’s National Director, Erica Heyse, stated she was “grateful for the generosity of the Ford Fund and the expertise of mental health professionals we’ve worked with to address the needs of our country’s youth in these challenging times.”

 

About

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. Learn more at www.congressionalaward.org.

 

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

The Congressional Award Partners with Intuit to support Financial Literacy for America’s Youth

 

Washington, DC (March 15, 2021) —The Congressional Award Foundation (CAF) and Intuit have joined forces to provide students with resources to take control of their personal finances.

To kick-off the partnership, CAF hosted a webinar on Entrepreneurship and Financial Empowerment featuring Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. as well as Donald M. Remy, COO and Chief Legal Officer of the NCAA; and Sheldon Cummings, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer and Sales Leader at Intuit.

As founding corporate partners of CAF’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, Intuit—maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint—and CAF launched an online Financial Literacy Module designed for students of diverse economic and social backgrounds. The online program helps youth take ownership of their financial futures.

 “I think of the whole thing as a journey: from financially literate, to proficient, to dominant. Everything you need to know and learn is within your grasp. Just stay humble, stay hungry, and never stop learning.” Congressman Payne stated, “It’s important to learn how to handle your money now so you can keep more of it later… financial literacy is critical right now.”

Sheldon Cummings spoke to students about the importance of financial empowerment for students from all backgrounds. “We are committed to helping students develop all the skills they need to be successful in their twenty first century jobs and for higher education. By approaching education with an intentional focus of DE+I, we believe we have the ability to create equal opportunity for all students.”

Keynote Speaker Donald Remy of the NCAA inspired the attendees to be confident in pursuit of their entrepreneurial endeavors, “Don’t be afraid to embrace your entrepreneurial dreams.” he said. “You may fail, but don’t let that dissuade you.”

The online Financial Literacy Center consists of four main playlists – Financial Foundations, Investing in your Future, Building Financial Capability, and Adulting.  Each playlist hosts interactive modules and lessons for youth to make their way through as they review topics from how a credit card works, to budgeting, to homeownership, retirement, and more.

 

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 Intuit
Intuit’s mission is to power prosperity around the world. We are a mission-driven, global financial platform company with products including TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint and Turbo, designed to empower consumers, self-employed and small businesses to improve their financial lives. Our platform and products help customers get more money with the least amount of work, while giving them complete confidence in their actions and decisions. Our innovative ecosystem of financial management solutions serves more than 50 million customers worldwide. Please visit us for the latest news and in-depth information about Intuit and its brands and find us on social. Learn more about our education programs at: www.intuit.com/partners/education-program/.

 

# # #

Download PDF version.

 

Five North Carolina Members of Congress Celebrate Youth Achievement in Virtual Award Ceremony

North Carolina – December 14, 2020Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), Congressman Dan Bishop (NC-09), Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13), Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05), and Congressional Award Board Member, Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08), today recognized youth achievement in the Tar Heel State during the first-ever virtual awards ceremony held by the Congressional Award Foundation.

Members of Congress, Medalists, and guests gather via Zoom to participate in the ceremony.

The 2020 Virtual North Carolina Statewide Ceremony honored 59 youth across the state for personal goal-setting and volunteerism in their communities. The shift to a virtual format allowed more Members of Congress to attend than ever before and provided them with the chance to personally congratulate their young constituents across the state.

Each youth recipient set and achieved goals in four program areas – Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration. This year’s group contributed 23,712 hours of service to their communities, an average of 402 hours per medalist.

“I wish we could all be together in-person to honor your accomplishments during this challenging time. However, I know our future is bright because of your efforts,” stated Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08). “You are all the best of our country, and I’m thankful for your work to make your communities and our country better.”

Following Congressman Hudson was his co-host for the event, Congresswoman Alma Adams (NC-12), who commended the students for their efforts amidst the pandemic. “The strength you have displayed in earning this award during this period of adversity is immense and admirable.” She continued with words of encouragement stating, “Don’t stop here. Take the lessons you’ve learned on your Congressional Award journey and apply them to building a better and brighter future.”

The ceremony was made possible by title sponsor, Smithfield Foods.

“Smithfield Foods’ sustained support of The Congressional Award reflects our commitment to the same values that the Award upholds,” said Mike Skahill, Vice President of Government Affairs at Smithfield Foods and Congressional Award Foundation board member. “Each of the Congressional Award recipients dedicates themselves in service to their local communities, a parallel to the importance we place on supporting our neighbors in the communities we call home. We are proud to support all of these efforts that help build a stronger tomorrow for everyone.”

The Congressional Award aims to foster principles of good citizenship and equip the next generation of leaders with tools to succeed. The program offers a superlative experience to include on resumes and college applications and makes goal-setting and service to others a habit for the youth who earn an Award. In recent months, The Congressional Award has shifted its priority to offer virtual programming for its participants and encourages youth to work on their goals in safe ways.

“While virtual programming has been a challenging adjustment, we are excited that we can use the increased accessibility of these virtual spaces to reach more students, more Members of Congress, and provide more opportunities for youth despite the obstacle of staying at home.” stated Erica Heyse, National Director of The Congressional Award Foundation.

Kayla Anderson of Harrisburg, NC was one of the Silver Medalists presented at the ceremony.

Kayla Anderson displays her Congressional Award Bronze and Silver Medals.

“As I look back on these past two years of participating in The Congressional Award, I can say that my participation was very rewarding. It allowed me to become more involved in my community and to invest in myself. This Award is a symbol of my all-around growth.” said Anderson.

A video recording of the event is available to view.

A copy of the ceremony program is available to view and download.

These, along with the full listing of medalists and their hometowns can be found on our website.

About
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.

###

The Congressional Award and Intuit Launch Personal Finance Program to Help Teens From All Backgrounds ‘Own their Financial Futures’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Bethie Woodall
woodall@congressionalaward.org

 

 

 

 

 

PDF Version

Washington, DC (October 22, 2020) —Intuit, maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint, and the Congressional Award Foundation (CAF) strengthened their commitment to student leaders of diverse economic and social backgrounds, in coordination with CAF’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, by launching a new program to help youth take ownership of their financial futures.

The two organizations announced their collaboration, which will address the knowledge-gap in personal finance and prepare tomorrow’s increasingly diverse workforce with the tangible skills and attributes necessary to excel in their professional and personal futures. This collaboration with Intuit will be the founding corporate partnership of CAF’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative.  The program aims to provide benefits that are inclusive of those in under-served communities across the nation.

“Financial literacy is a critical skill needed to be successful in today’s job market and in the future. Many young people, including those in economically challenged communities, would benefit from increasing their financial literacy to better prepare them for future jobs. We’re proud to partner with the Congressional Award Foundation to empower the next generation to build strong skills that prepare them for future success,” said Chris Leahy, Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs, and Chief Public Policy Officer at Intuit.

In the spirit of CAF’s Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, the program is open to all youth regardless of ability, circumstance, and socioeconomic status. The personal finance program will help students build critical financial knowledge, develop and apply their skills using project based learning activities using real world tools, and enforcing their learnings by volunteering their time to give back to their community.” As part of the program, students will also be encouraged to volunteer their time to give back to their communities.

Participants of the Congressional Award program, current and previous, are encouraged to utilize these resources to hone their money management skills, regardless of where they are starting off.  Whether a student is complete beginner or has experience managing personal finances, the Congressional Award and Intuit have created a program to help those of any background gain expertise for a more secure financial future.

The online Financial Literacy Center consists of four main playlists – Financial Foundations, Investing in your Future, Building Financial Capability, and Adulting.  Each playlist hosts interactive modules and lessons for youth to make their way through as they review topics from how a credit card works, to budgeting, to homeownership, retirement, and more.

The new partners are optimistic that exposure to different simulations, lessons, and curriculum resources will ignite students’ passions and interests in money management.  The program will also create a path for upward mobility for students who may not have access to these resources on their own.

“We are so pleased to offer our medalists and aspiring medalists the opportunity to take control of their future in this way,” said Erica Heyse, National Director of the Congressional Award Foundation. “The program aims to help students implement financial management strategies through a seamless, simple, and fun process.  Our participants can take what they learn from these lessons and apply it to their real lives at a young age.  The impact this can have is immeasurable.”

Partnership Launch

The Congressional Award and Intuit announced their partnership during the 2020 Virtual Gold Medal Ceremony. The announcement directed the class of 478 Gold Medalists to complete the modules as they prepare to graduate high school and college and head off into the workforce.

During the event, medalists also heard from Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut’s 4th congressional district.  Congressman Himes, a member of the Financial Services Committee, has made it a priority throughout his political career to help American consumers, support small businesses, and assist middle- class families through policy.  “These modules that have been crafted by Intuit and the Congressional Award Foundation will provide immense opportunity for upward mobility in our country’s youth,” says Himes. “All Americans should have the chance to feel secure with their finances, become homeowners, or start small businesses to help grow our economy.  Learning about these principles at a young age is extremely advantageous to individual financial success and to our economy as a whole.”

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 Intuit

Intuit’s mission is to power prosperity around the world. We are a mission-driven, global financial platform company with products including TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint and Turbo, designed to empower consumers, self-employed and small businesses to improve their financial lives. Our platform and products help customers get more money with the least amount of work, while giving them complete confidence in their actions and decisions. Our innovative ecosystem of financial management solutions serves more than 50 million customers worldwide. Please visit us for the latest news and in-depth information about Intuit and its brands and find us on social. Learn more about our education programs at: www.intuit.com/partners/education-program/.

 

###

Feel Good News: COVID-19 Edition

Have your own Feel Good News story to share? Submit here.


Gold Medalist shrinks the PPE deficit by hand-making over 600 masks

Eunice Lee, a high school junior from Reseda, California, is addressing the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) one stitch at a time.

She assembled and mailed an initial 235 kits, each containing 2 masks, disposable gloves, sanitizing wipes, and a heartfelt letter. Eunice soon found herself out of money and materials to continue so she set up a GoFundMe for her cause. Within a matter of weeks the project was revitalized by generous donors.

“I studied in the morning and spent my afternoons and many nights making masks. The process was undoubtedly tedious but it was worth every minute.” Eunice’s masks have been sent to pandemic epicenters all around the world like California, Germany, Italy, Korea, and New York.

 


16-year-old pilot flies medical supplies to rural hospitals

TJ Kim has turned his flying lessons into missions of mercy, bringing desperately needed supplies to rural communities in need. Dubbed “Operation SOS — Supplies Over Skies, TJ carries gloves, masks, gowns, and other equipment to small hospitals. “Every hospital is hurting for supplies, but it’s the rural hospitals that really feel forgotten.” TJ has been featured on AP News, NBC Nightly News: Kids Edition, and WSLS.


Siblings create non-profit to raise funds and support for local organizations

Annie and Jaime Wang moved from Texas to Hawaii in 2018. They were shocked to see how prevalent the homeless population was in Honolulu. To address the issue, the siblings established Support Hawaii Keiki, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on bringing help, hope, and happiness to homeless families.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Wangs launched a fundraising campaign to purchase over 400 medical masks and make a donation to Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children to show their support to health professionals working on the front line.


Teen delivers surprise gift bags to local doctors & nurses

13-year-old Charles Hoppe delivered gift bags to Advent Health doctors and nurses in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Each bag included a drink, snacks, and a special letter of encouragement. “I’d been reading about COVID-19 and I know that everybody here is at a great risk and I wanted to do this to show my appreciation.” Read more.


Silver Medalist creates non-contact food and essentials delivery service

“Teens Helping Seniors” is an organization that aims to provide no-contact grocery deliveries to senior citizens and other vulnerable populations. Dhruv Pai of Potomac, Maryland says he started the organization when he saw a need that hit close to home. His grandparents were scared to leave their home to go grocery shopping, so he offered to help. That’s when he realized other people might be in a similar situation. Learn more about Dhruv’s work.


‘Performing a civic duty’

Simoni Mishra works with children from other schools in Montgomery County, Maryland to create Personal Protective Equipment to deliver to the county office. She makes and delivers 25 masks in each batch. “The email from county officials shows the desperate need for PPE. And emergency workers do so much for us…this is a tiny contribution from my part to do my civic duty.” In addition, Simoni also sends inspirational video messages to nearby seniors and the elderly care center where she volunteers.


Zachery deploys traveling library service for COVID-19 relief

Through his own service project, Gustine Traveling Library, Zachery Ramos is distributing free vegetables to those in need, free water to a local elderly home, and making masks to give out to fieldworkers and first responders to keep them safe. Zachery’s team has provided 100 gallons of water, 30+ plus bags of vegetables, and 50 masks already!


Song = Therapy

The world around us is changing every second. Anjali Sanghavi of Fairfax, Virginia felt that as a high school student there was only so much she could do to help others while staying safe at the same time. So she decided to do the thing she loves the most…sing! Anjali assembled a group of singer friends and called all of her family and friends to put together a message for those on the frontline fighting the coronavirus. She has shared her message of hope with hospitals, medical professionals, senior homes, and those who are alone during this crisis in hopes that it “makes them feel not so alone!”


Teen shares science lessons online

Before the quarantine, Dhruv Balaji created an organization called Spectrum Robotics to teach robotics to children with autism through in-person sessions. He brought together a group of high school students interested in robotics to teach the classes.

Now that everyone is stuck at home, Dhruv is trying to make an impact digitally by making videos about simple computer science to educate children who are interested. “I really enjoy educating people and knowing that I made a difference in their life, whether I am physically there with them or not.”


‘A beautiful gesture from today’s youth’

15-year-old Ayush Desai felt compelled to help first responders in his Woodbridge and Edison, New Jersey. He contacted local businesses asking for either monetary donations or supplies to benefit the Avenel Fire Department and Woodbridge Police Department. Ayush was humbled by the generosity of community members who helped him raise nearly $1,000 ($400 of his own money) and materialize 400 masks, 50 boxes of gloves, and several boxes of sanitizer. “Hopefully this will be the start of something that can change many more lives.”


New Jersey teen launches 24-hour mask-a-thon

On Sunday, April 5th, Isaac Buckman of Manapalan, New Jersey constructed face masks and face shields for 24 hours straight, without any extended breaks. He streamed the entire process live on Twitch. In the end, Isaac was able to make over 200 face masks and 5 face shields that he donated to his local hospital.

“My goal was to motivate others to help out in the effort against COVID-19, whether this be by making masks or by getting groceries for those who are more at risk.” Learn more about Isaac’s project at App.com, New Jersey News Network, and The Two River Times.


Silver Medalist prepares neighbors for the fight

“This pandemic has affected everyone’s life in different ways and I wanted to provide people with a little relief and ease the stress for attaining the necessary equipment to fight the virus.” Before the demand for masks went high, Runfei (Ray) Zhou of Temecula, California was already advocating the need to wear protective masks on his social media platforms. After finding suppliers, he collected and received donations from friends and family to purchase an initial box of masks. Ray then went to grocery stores and big box stores to hand out masks to employees and residents. He later posted on the neighborhood app Nextdoor to garner more attention from his community. Before his state’s stay-at-home order, Ray even delivered masks to seniors and residents with pre-existing health conditions as well as his local park.


Helping the community through ‘dignified service’

With help from Hearts for the Homeless International, Valory Anne Vailoces of Lakeland, Florida created portable hand-washing stations for the homeless at food shares in Orlando and Tallahassee, Florida. She also helped educate food share volunteers about social distancing and personal hygiene measures in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Without the foods shares, hundreds of homeless people would go hungry. We want to show volunteers and the homeless that they are not forgotten and that someone cares enough to keep them healthy.”


Sibling Gold Medalists turn frustration into action

Caroline and Ian Bonner were both notified that they had each earned The Congressional Award Gold Medal earlier this year. Fast forward a few months: The coronavirus hits and their plans to travel to Washington, D.C. this summer for the Gold Medal Ceremony came to a sudden halt. Instead of planning their trip to the nation’s capital, they decided to put the spirit of The Congressional Award into action in their community by packing and distributing food through a local non-profit. “We’re grateful for this opportunity to serve.”


Leadership grows in times of crisis

As news of the coronavirus first broke several months ago, Eric Chang of Johns Creek, Georgia sought to find a way to help those in China who had been affected. Of course, the disease soon made its way to the United States. From this point, Eric understood that it was but a matter of time before it would impact his own community, so he began to assemble a team and develop an idea to combat the issue locally. Within the first few weeks, he was able to create a base for his newly founded nonprofit, Covid Care, establishing that their mission would be to use our actions to encourage more students to act out. Erica was able to partner with OurHouse Atlanta, Caringworks, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and several more, spending weeks just collecting supplies and materials from drives and donations.

Since Eric’s team knew that many materials, such as face masks and hand sanitizer, were limited and highly expensive, they decided to construct their own. Following their first distribution, Covid Care released a documentary outlining their work, launched a website, and secured a sponsor – multiplying their impact to hundreds of individuals across the state.

“We are now looking to expand upon the student network that we had originally conceived, and we want to build a channel across the country with branches led by student nonprofits and organizations.”


Non-profit founder rises to the occasion

In 2018, Srilaasya Yenduri of Portland, Oregon established the student-led non-profit organization CyberBORN to help impoverished children gain better access to education, food, and shelter in places like India, Guatemala, and Ethiopia. Since the coronavirus outbreak, CyberBORN has delivered over 200 masks to senior homes and a local children’s hospital. “We are also in the process of establishing digital classrooms in orphanages so that remote learning can finally be a reality in rural parts of India. Additionally, we will be sponsoring meals for doctors and nurses in the coming weeks.”


Teen connects organizations with youth volunteers

Volunteers are needed now more than ever to combat the spread of the coronavirus and provide relief to community members. Students are out of school with many looking for purposeful ways to fill their days. But Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania teen Nicholas Zonarich noticed one piece was missing – connecting organizations in need with volunteers in a simple and efficient way. “This is where I realized that I could help.”

In summer 2019, Nicholas created a website, jrvolunteer.org, to promote youth volunteer opportunities in his community. He has since connected 100 organizations with 20,000 local students. Jrvolunteer.org is now providing the link between local youth and organizations in need of volunteers to support many needs in the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Many benefits come from volunteering for youth: improvement and/or development of new skills, decreased stress, and a sense of purpose. In some way, if many can find a way to contribute to the common good, our communities will remain strong. I challenge all youth to find a way to add value to their community by getting involved now or in the future.”


Middle school student 3D prints ‘Ear Savers’ for medical professionals

Krishna Venugopal of The Woodlands, Texas wanted to help his area medical community. He came across an idea for ‘Ear Savers,’ a product designed to alleviate the pressure and irritation caused by the bands of face masks when worn for extended periods of time.

Having never even seen a 3D printer before, Krishna felt compelled to borrow one from a friend to create his own ear savers. He spent a week researching the technology and resources for beginners then built his first prototype in about 5 hours. Krishna has now made a total of 30 ear savers and distributed to three doctors/practitioners for use in their practices. “The experience has been very uplifting and satisfying for me in that I have been able to contribute my little bit to our community and have learned that every small bit counts.”


Have your own story to share?

Feel Good News

  • What magnificent goal, project, idea, or interaction are you sharing?
  • Share photos, videos, or documents that illustrate your project or story.
  • Please provide any social media accounts (links to profile/handles) that we should tag or mention when sharing your project.

Tools and tips for navigating 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) Through December 31, 2021, our team is will show more leniency with direct vs. indirect service requirements, enabling participants to complete the bulk of their activities from the safety of their homes. Read the full statement here.

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

5) Virtual Expeditions/Explorations will be accepted through December 31, 2021.


Creative service ideas that fit social distancing

-Meeting immediate needs: Making and/or securing PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks, face shields, isolation gowns, disposable gloves to be donated to health workers.

-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

-Making signs and writing thank you notes for first responders, hospital staff, and medical workers.

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.


Resources

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.

Personal Finance Program – Complete our Personal Finance Program, powered by Intuit, as part of your Personal Development activities and take ownership of your financial future.

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.