WHAT ARE THEY?
The Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 to honor the highest ideals and achievements in the field of public service in the United States. This prestigious national honor recognizes individuals throughout the country performing great public service, but largely without recognition. The awards are given by the American Institute for Public Service, which is located in Washington, D.C.
BACKGROUND ON THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION AND AWARDS
WHO SPONSORS IT?
American Institute for Public Service, Washington, D.C., nationally with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Senator Robert Taft, Jr., as Co-Founders. Today there are 147 media partners participating in 93 communities.
IN HOW MANY CATEGORIES IS THE AWARD GIVEN?
Five, but it is only in the fifth, “Outstanding Public Service Benefiting Local Communities”, that the local sponsors become involved. The other four national categories are as follows: “Greatest Public Service Performed by an Elected or Appointed Official”, “Greatest Public Service Performed by a Private Citizen”, “Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged”, and “Greatest Public Service by an Individual Thirty-Five Years or Under”.
HOW ARE THE NATIONAL WINNERS SELECTED?
A prestigious Board of Nominators nominates the winners in the four national categories. This Board is comprises of over 200 distinguished individuals from all 50 states. They include governors, mayors, university presidents, corporate leaders, heads of social service organizations, and representatives of other organizations.
In addition, the American Institute’s Board of Selectors submit names for consideration. Finalists are selected and winners are voted by ballot by the Institute’s Board of Selectors. The Board consists of some 75 of the nation’s most distinguished leaders, with a proportionate number from each geographic area of the United States. The members range widely in age, occupation, and point of view, representing the diversity and individualism, which distinguish the American character and tradition. Among those having served on the Board: Hank Aaron, Senators John Heinz and Terry Sanford, Patricia Carbine, Earl Graves, Andrew Wyeth, Winthrop Rockefeller, Roger Horchow, Jack Valenti, Kirk Douglas, and Neil Simon. This Board selects the recipients in the four national categories as well as the five national winners in the fifth category.
BACKGROUND ON THE LOCAL AWARDS
HOW CAN I NOMINATE SOMEONE IN THE LOCAL CATEGORY?
By filling out a form provided by either of the local media sponsors (WBKO Television or Daily News), detailing why you think someone performing a significant, but unrecognized, public service should be considered.
IN WHAT AREAS, FOR EXAMPLE?
Such areas include individuals helping senior citizens, children, the disadvantaged, and mentally retarded; or improving education, culture, health care and the environment, expanding recreation, promoting public safety, and so on.
MUST THEY BE VOLUNTEERS?
They can be volunteers, or paid employees. No age limit.
HOW ABOUT ELECTED OFFICIALS?
Elected officials or well-known individuals are NOT eligible due to the fact that they already receive significant recognition.
Anyone in the viewing/circulation area is eligible.
ANY LIMITATIONS IN THE NOMINATION LETTER?
They can be any length up to 300 words. They can be typed or written in longhand. No “points” are given for the style (not an essay contest).
WHERE DO I SEND IT?
Jefferson Awards Coordinator
WBKO - TV
PO Box 13000
Bowling Green, KY 42102
Jefferson Awards Coordinator
BG Daily News
PO Box 90012
Bowling Green, KY 42102-9012
February 17, 2009
HOW MANY LOCAL PERSONS WILL BE SELECTED?
Each local winner will receive a bronze medallion, which features a replica of the United States on the front and a citation for Outstanding Public Service on the reverse. The Franklin Mint donates the medallions as a public service. Each winner will then be eligible for a national Jefferson Award (a gold medallion or silver) to be awarded in June in the chambers of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. In addition, one winner from each of the media sponsors will also be selected to travel, all expenses paid, to Washington, D.C. to participate in the national ceremony and to attend a dinner.