The Jefferson Awards engages the Partners in our communities to highlight local service stories. The goal is to spotlight the great work they do and to inspire Americans to put their service ideas into action.
The selection criteria for the local and national Jefferson Awards winners are parallel. There are two basic considerations:
- Outstanding Personal Acts
- Community Impact
First, the selectors review outstanding personal acts of courage, vision, dedication, and tenacity. Is there anything moving, unique, heroic about the nominee and his or her character? Is it a compelling story?
Second, they review the impact on the community. Public service is about serving people and communities. As the nominee addresses important issues facing local communities or the country, has the nominee had a measurable impact?
Eligibility – Defining “Unsung Hero” Volunteers vs. Paid Professionals
Through our Partners, we are applauding “Unsung Heroes,” meaning not normally in the media. From the Jefferson Awards viewpoint, the key is "Unsung." The honorees should not be broadly known newsmakers such as elected officials, mayors, or state senators.
Paid professionals are eligible. Recipients can be volunteers or if paid must go well above and beyond their job description.
Judging – Levels:
1. Local Level
On a local level, each Partner creates a panel of judges. This panel selects local Jefferson Award winners. They highlight them on air/in print and award them a bronze Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
2. Select a winner to go to the National Level
The local panel of judges select one winner that will travel to Washington, DC.
3. National Level
From the winners traveling to Washington, DC, some will be selected for a another award. This is a national Jefferson Award and they will receive a gold medallion.
Winners will be determined in two separate judging stages:
1. Outstanding Personal Act.
Please consider outstanding personal acts of courage, vision, dedication, and tenacity. Is there anything moving, unique, heroic about the nominee and his or her character? Is there any obstacles they had to overcome?
2. Community Impact.
To receive a maximum score, judges are looking for how many people benefitted from their service, how they activated their community and how many constituencies they involved. Areas of measurement can include the number of lives impacted, number of hours of service generated, total dollars raised and/or value of donated goods, other specific outcomes generated by the project.