In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard established The Jefferson Awards. The purpose of the Jefferson Awards is to honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service in order to inspire and encourage others to get involved.

The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. National award recipients represent a "Who's Who" of outstanding Americans. On the local level, Jefferson Awards recipients are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.


The mission of the Jefferson Awards is to encourage and honor individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service. Through our Media Partners we seek to inspire volunteering in local communities. Through our Champions, we seek to energize volunteering in the workplace. Through our Youth Service Initiative, we seek to double volunteering in high schools.


Nominations for the 2015 Jefferson Awards are closed. If you know an outstanding individual in your community who gives freely of their time and represents the spirit of volunteerism, please consider nominating them for our 2016 Jefferson Awards. Nominations will open in Fall 2015.


The selection criteria for the national and local Jefferson Awards winners are parallel.

There are two basic considerations:
• Outstanding Personal Acts
• Community Impact

First, the selectors review acts of courage, vision, dedication, and tenacity. Is there anything outstanding, unique, heroic about the nominee and his or her character?

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?

Jefferson Awards highlight the "Unsung Heroes." Eligibility includes volunteers as well as paid professionals who go well above and beyond their expected service. "Unsung" means not normally in the media.

A panel of judges chosen from leaders in the Jackson community will review all nominations and choose 12 local Jefferson Award winners. From those 12 winners, the most outstanding candidate will be chosen to represent our community at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in June 2014. Flight and accommodations will be provided for the winner.