As an eighth grader, Olivia Foster was looking for a challenge. Then she came across the Congressional Award online—a national program where students can earn medals for completing tasks in areas such as public service, personal development, physical fitness, and exploration—and her path became clear. Now a junior, Ms. Foster will be awarded the highest youth award in the program, the gold medal, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in June.
Signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to “recognize initiative, achievement, and service in young people,” the Congressional Medal program is open to American citizens aged 14 to 23 years old. Participants can earn bronze, silver, and gold certificates, or bronze, silver, and gold medals.
In order to qualify for the award, participants must complete a number of hours in four areas: Personal Development, Volunteer Public Service, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.