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.

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’

Contact: Bethie Woodall






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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:



478 Youth Presented with Congressional Award Gold Medal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – written by Jordan Lindsey
September 28, 2020
Washington, DC

For a condensed PDF press release, click here.

The program’s first-ever virtual event took time this past Saturday to recognize students for their dedication to initiative, achievement, and service.

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 26, 2020 — Last Saturday, the United States Congress honored 478 incredible young leaders with The Congressional Award Gold Medal in the program’s first-ever virtual Gold Medal Ceremony.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first year the Gold Medal Ceremony has been held virtually,  providing a unique opportunity to celebrate the efforts made by some of America’s most exceptional youth.

The Congressional Award Gold Medal is the highest honor that a Member of Congress can bestow upon a youth civilian. This year’s Gold Medalists are the most recent addition to an exceptional group of individuals who have received the prestigious award throughout the program’s 41-year history. Each Gold Medalist has completed at least 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service, 200 hours of Personal Development and Physical Fitness, respectively, and a 5 day, 4-night Expedition/Exploration over the span of a minimum two years.

Hosted by the Chairman of The Congressional Award, Paxton Baker, the ceremony began with an inspiring video message from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi congratulated the medalists and encouraged their continued commitment amidst the pandemic:

“Our nation is at a pivotal moment, as our communities confront the unprecedented coronavirus crisis and fight the systemic injustices that continue to undermine the strength of our democracy. If we are to meet these enormous challenges, we need your leadership, your imagination, and your commitment to serving others.”

Throughout the ceremony video, Chairman Baker took viewers to several of Washington, D.C.’s landmarks including the Capitol Building, Nationals Park, the Washington Monument, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.  Chairman Baker also interviewed each of the ceremony’s special guests: Wolf Blitzer, Senator Mike Enzi, and Emmitt Smith.

Speaking from his experience in becoming a journalist and CNN’s Lead Anchor, Wolf Blitzer encouraged the medalists,

“Find what you really, really love doing and see if there’s a good career path you can take, that will enable you to do that on a day-to-day basis. You’ll do it well—if you love what you’re doing.”

United States Senator from Wyoming, Mike Enzi humbly told Chairman Baker,

“My reward is watching the youth respond to Congressional Awards, and develop through Congressional Awards, and then do things after the Congressional Awards.”

NFL Hall of Famer and businessman Emmitt Smith shared the wisdom he had gained from his family and throughout his career,

“We all have a responsibility to each other, not only to earn the right to be respected and give respect, but to take the opportunity to help another person in need.”

Videos and photos submitted by the Gold Medalists were shown with participants highlighting aspects of the program that meant most to them. Medalist Abhinav Krishnan from North Carolina said,

“The Congressional Award program has given me the ability to see past my social circles in my everyday life and see the true challenges that my real community faces.”

Carson Beck of Arizona commented on some of his Voluntary Public Service work:

“I was able to learn about giving back to my community through raising money for wounded veterans, and redoing a rock wall for a youth outreach center in my community.”

Lavanya Neti from California told viewers how the program

“inspired me to start my own non-profit, Schools for Success, where I guide and motivate other young people to complete their own charitable projects.”

Among other medalists’ videos, special remarks were given by Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-8), and Congresswoman Liz Cheney (WY-0).

“I hope you all will join me in congratulating these young people for all their hard work in making our community a better place,” said Congresswoman Porter, who’s district had the most Gold Medalists this year, with 42 awardees.

Also giving special remarks was Senator for New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, who told the medalists

“Your dedication and service to your communities is needed now more than ever. You’ve shown you not only have what it takes to lead the next generation, but to lead our country into the future.”

As the ceremony video came to a close, viewers were shown a message from Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell:

“I’m proud of the bright young people in Kentucky, and around the country, who have committed time and talent to serving their communities. I’m excited to see all the good that you’ll continue to do.”

Following the ceremony video, Gold Medalists tuned in for a Keynote Address from Congressional Award Board Member and past Gold Medalist (class of ’04) Mateo Magdaleno. Magdaleno is an internationally known, community servant leader and professional empowerment speaker with an inspiring story that stresses the importance of never giving up on the pursuit of an education despite the challenges involved.

Focus on the things you do have, and not the things you don’t have. Work with what you’ve got! We can change our attitudes towards our circumstances. Choose happiness. Choose gratitude.”

Following the Keynote, National Director of The Congressional Award, Erica Heyse made a few exciting announcements and conducted live giveaways for Washington Nationals merch.

Among the announcements was The Congressional Award’s latest partnership in coordination with the program’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative, with Intuit.

Check out The Congressional Award’s Personal Finance Program, powered by Intuit, here.

The medalists then joined virtual break-out networking sessions with The Congressional Award Board Members, sharing their experiences with the program, their interests, and taking advantage of the opportunity to connect with their peers.

Four afternoon panels on topics of interests to the medalists included discussions around nonprofit leadership, race relations and social justice, women in leadership, and entrepreneurship. Panelists featured an array of social, government, and industry leaders committed to work in each area of focus.

Panel #1 | Women in Leadership: Breaking Barriers and Shattering Glass Ceilings

  • Keira Lombardo (Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Compliance, Smithfield Foods)
  • Kerry McClean (Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Intuit)
  • Karen Gally (Vice President & General Counsel, Otsuka)
  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas’ 18th Congressional District)


  • Sanyin Siang (Founding Executive Director, COLE, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business)

Panel #2 | Nonprofit Leadership: Where Business and Social Change Intersect

  • Merrill Eisenhower Atwater (CEO, People to People International)
  • Adan Gonzalez (Founder & Executive Director, Puede Network)
  • Deborah Rutter (President, The Kennedy Center)
  • Depelsha McGruder (COO & Treasurer, Ford Foundation)
  • Congressman David Cicilline (Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District)


  • Ray Kerins (Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Government Relations & Policy, Bayer)

Panel #3 | Entrepreneurship: Betting on Yourself

  • Brian K. Johnson (President & CEO, Advance Higher Ed LLC)
  • Brad Knox (Senior Vice President & Counsel, Aflac)
  • Chiling Tong (President & CEO, National ACE)
  • Kirk Spahn (Founder & President, Institute for Civic Leadership)
  • Congressman Jim Himes (Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District)


  • Romero Brown (CEO, Romero Brown Consulting)

Panel #4 | Race Relations & Social Justice: Not a Trend, but a Lifelong Commitment to Progress

  • Dr. Hakim J. Lucas (President & CEO, Virginia Union University)
  • Councilmember Will Jawando (Montgomery County Council, Attorney, Activist)
  • Courtney Christian (Senior Director of Policy and Research, PhRMA)
  • Jodie Geddes (Co-Manager, Coming to the Table)


  • David Osman (Clinical Quality Program Administrator, Anthem)

The virtual ceremony, usually held in person at The Capitol Visitor Center, is one of several steps taken by The Congressional Award Foundation to support and celebrate America’s youth during the pandemic. To learn about some of the ways The Congressional Award has responded to the pandemic and upcoming programs and updates visit us at our website.

The Gold Medalist Class of 2020 come from 41 states, contributing a combined total of over 226,000 hours of Voluntary Public Service to their communities – the states with the highest number of awardees being California, Wyoming, Texas, New Jersey, and New York. See our fact sheet for our full list of medalists from this year and other interesting facts.

For reporters working on national stories and/or members of TV, radio, new media broadcasting:
Bethie Woodall

Erica Heyse

For reporters working on local stories, partner organization/congressional staff inquiries, or general information:
Matt Tick

U.S. Congress to Honor Youth Nationwide with Congressional Award Gold Medal in First-Ever Virtual Ceremony

Contact: Bethie Woodall |
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The Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony will recognize 478 Congressional Award recipients across the nation for their goal-setting achievements in voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration.

Saturday, September 26, 2020
1:00 p.m. ET

1:00 p.m. | Ceremony Opening & Medalist Recognition
2:00 p.m. | Keynote & Giveaways
2:15 p.m. | Medalist Break-Out Groups & Networking
3:00 p.m. | Panel Discussions


The ceremony, which is traditionally held in the Congressional Auditorium at the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center, will take place virtually this year.

The Gold Medalists, their families, as well as loved ones will virtually attend. The Gold Medal Ceremony will include video messages from various Members of both the House and the Senate as well as influential speakers including messages from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and interviews with guests Wolf Blitzer, Emmitt Smith, and Senator Mike Enzi.

Media Information
View a list of this year’s 478 awardees (including hometowns).
Download a copy of the ceremony program.
Full event info, as well as the full list of panelists and moderators, can be found here on our website.

The Congressional Award is the 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 recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 13 ½ – 23.

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