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Jefferson Awards

1972. Created the Jefferson Awards for Public Service with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. to create a Nobel Prize for public service. Enlisted over 120 television stations and newspapers to recognize and encourage grassroots “Unsung Heroes.”

1989- 2003. For 14 years, the Jefferson Award worked with President George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush to create a presidential grassroots system for volunteering patterned after the President’s Physical Fitness Awards. More than 3 million winners have provided more than 100 hours of service.

Students In Action

2006 to present. Changed the mission to become one of the nation’s leading organizations activating volunteers – with an initial focus on youth service.


2006 to present, Students In Action – in more than 500 high schools, more than 20,000 student leaders. More than 20 million hours of service reported. Value exceeds $1 billion community impact.

Service Projects

2013, Youth Service Challenge – elementary school through college, more than 200 Mayors and Involved 900,000 young Americans in 3,647 projects.

With leadership from the Jefferson Awards in 2003 president George W. Bush by executive order turned the President’s Youth Service Awards into the official President’s Volunteer Service Awards to inspire all ages


With leadership from the Jefferson Awards in 2003 President George W. Bush by Executive Order turned the Presidents Youth Service Awards into the official President’s Volunteer Service awards to inspire all ages


Michelle Obama

In 2016 – Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards President, created a partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama and her program Better Make Room. Better Make Room uses service to transform the lives of students at risk of dropping out of high school as well as builds self-esteem and purpose. Service changes their life path. 80% of students in this program go on to graduate from high school and attend college and have career success.

In April 2016 – Jefferson Awards – Obama partnership was announced in New York City, reaching more than 500 million people via social media.

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