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Jefferson Awards for Public Service
Honoring Those Who Multiply Good

For over 50 years, we’ve been honoring those who put others first because we’ve seen the power and importance of recognition. Those receiving Jefferson Awards are empowered to do more, while their stories of extraordinary public service inspire others to action.

The Award that Underscores Impact

Over the past five decades, the list of Jefferson Award recipients is unparalleled. They include hundreds of national figures — both public and private —more than 65,000 unsung heroes, and tens of thousands of employees and young people in communities across the country. These individuals represent the good that is happening all around us, in every community across the nation. It is our mission to elevate them and exponentially increase their acts of service.


Frequently Asked Questions

We were founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard as a national awards platform focused on extraordinary achievement in public service. For over 50 years, we have consistently celebrated elevated and recognized individuals who build better communities and contribute to better a future for those around them. A Jefferson Awards puts the nominee among the most distinguished individuals in America and part of our national community of service.
Thanks to our Board of Governors and a small group of dedicated philanthropists, JAF is 100% impact model. That means that your entire sponsorship and / or ticket price is solely dedicated to program delivery and impact.
National Awards are given to individuals and groups for excellence in service at a national or international scale. There are eight categories of national awards. Local grassroots unsung heroes, employees, and youth become eligible for national awards as well through participation in our programs. All award recipients must be American citizens, though their impact can have global reach. Click here for more information on the various awards categories.
Nominations are open year round. We currently run a month long digital campaign in the summer to solicit nominations for all national categories. Our Board of Selectors is then tasked to vote for finalists in September. We work on confirming recipients throughout the Fall of each year. Everyone is invited to submit nominations.