The Foundation Announces Task Force on Curriculum and Virtual Programming

Education Leaders Unite to Develop Emotional and Mental Health Summer Programs for Students


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2020 — Today, The Congressional Award Foundation (CAF), the United States Congress’ public-private partnership for young Americans, created the Task Force on Curriculum and Virtual Programming, following the suspension of its annual Gold Medal Ceremony. The task force will provide middle, high school, and college students with at-home resources for emotional and mental health, STEM education, and opportunities to remain engaged in community service. The group is chaired by CAF board member Dr. Linda Mitchell, extension professor and regional extension coordinator, Mississippi State University.

The Congressional Award Foundation Task Force on Curriculum and Virtual Programming is developing content for students and educators alike within virtual learning platforms. The task force recently released opportunities for Congressional Award participants to complete their goals from the safety of their homes with the introduction of Tools and Tips in the Age of Coronavirus and Feel Good News: Participants Answering the Call to Service. Guest speakers, lecturers, Congressional Award presentations, guidance for effective goal-setting, and opportunities to meet immediate needs through volunteerism are among the programs that will soon be available.

“We are excited to bring together an alliance of exceptional leaders in education to assist in the evolution of The Congressional Award Foundation and how it serves America’s youngest constituents during these challenging times,” said Paxton Baker, Chairman of the Board of The Congressional Award Foundation. “Many of our teens are withdrawing and finding it difficult to navigate through this period of isolation away from friends, sports, and hobbies. There is concern from parents and teachers that students do not have the experience with self-care and methodology to bring joy and passion back into their lives. We are committed to filling that void.”

Among the committee, members include Congressional Award Foundation board of directors and alumni in the education and non-profit sectors: Dr. Brian Johnson, president & CEO, Advance Higher Ed, LLC (Washington, D.C.); Kathryn Weeden, former principal, United States Senate Page School (Washington, D.C.); Laura O’Connor, registrar, Cedar Valley High School (Eagle Mountain, Utah); Mateo Magdaleno, chief education officer, IDQ Group, Inc. (Dallas, Texas); Mitch Draizin, president, CUNY LGBT Advisory Council (New York, New York); and Romero Brown, chief professional officer, Romero Brown Consulting (Acworth, Georgia).

The committee formed in response to the suspension of The Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, originally scheduled to take place June 15-17, 2020 at the United States Capitol. The Ceremony traditionally welcomes members of the United States Congress, public and private partners, and industry and civic leaders to recognize gold medalists before an audience of their families and peers in a multi-day event. Last year’s ceremony recognized 538 youth across 42 states and territories who logged at least 800 hours of voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration activities.

To learn more about The Congressional Award or to support the mission during this transition, including donations, please visit www.congressionalward.org.

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.

# # #
Download PDF Version

Contact:
Kyle Rosenbaum, for The Congressional Award
(212) 266-0222
krosenbaum@kylearnett.com

Voluntary Public Service Requirement Leniency

The Foundation lifts restrictions of direct vs. indirect service requirements for the foreseeable future


We understand that this is a trying time for participants and their families, especially when it comes to completing Voluntary Public Service activities while quarantined. The Foundation wants to ensure that we are supporting youth and providing avenues for success in our program during this unprecedented time.

Our current guidelines require that at least 75% of Voluntary Public Service activities be direct service hours in which participants are interacting with and providing a direct service to the community they are serving. No more than 25% of Voluntary Public Service should be indirect service like planning, training, fundraising, etc.

However, given the current circumstances of COVID-19 and in order to ensure the safety of participants, The Congressional Award will lift the restrictions of direct vs. indirect service requirements for the foreseeable future, enabling participants to complete their activities from their homes.

We encourage participants to change or adjust their goals to conform to social distancing/stay at home practices and advise that participants discuss these challenges and how they overcame them on their Record Book submissions.

Additionally, our team has been working to identify new and creative ways that participants might be able to complete Voluntary Public Service hours in the age of coronavirus.

The following are projects worth considering:

  • 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.

Safety is paramount. Participants should remember to always protect themselves and follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state/local officials when setting their goals.

Find additional tools and tips for completing The Congressional Award from home here.

Our team remains a resource as we all navigate this ever-evolving situation. Participants that want feedback on their service ideas should contact their program manager.

$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 information@congressionalaward.org.