The Nobel Prize for volunteerism
In 1972, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Beard founded the Jefferson Awards program to honor the unsung heroes of our country. The program is named after founding father Thomas Jefferson, a man who reflected the spirit of excellence in America as author of the Declaration of Independence, President of the United States, and advocate for a free press and freedom of religion.
Now known as the "Nobel Prize for volunteerism", the Jefferson Awards honors individuals for their achievements and contributions through public and community service.
Recognizing Pittsburgh's volunteers
The Jefferson Awards are presented on two levels: national and local. Past Jefferson Awards recipients on the national level include Oprah Winfrey, Peyton Manning, Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Faith Hill, Lance Armstrong, and Gen. Colin Powell.
In 1976, former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor John Craig established a local program honoring Western Pennsylvania's "Community Champions" -- everyday citizens who encountered problems in their neighborhood and created solutions to fix them. Today, the Post-Gazette continues to honor outstanding volunteers each week through the Jefferson Awards program.
Partners in the cause
Because of their commitment to volunteerism, Highmark, BNY Mellon, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments have joined the Post-Gazette in this valuable program. This year, community representatives will choose 50 Jefferson Award winners from among those nominated. Each will be highlighted in a newspaper ad and honored at an elegant reception at which they will receive the bronze Jefferson Award medallion, commissioned by the Franklin Mint.
Local leaders then choose six to eight of those honorees as finalists for our region's Most Outstanding Volunteer award. One winner will be chosen and will represent Western Pennsylvania at the national Jefferson Awards ceremonies in Washington, D.C.
Nominate an outstanding volunteer
Tell us about an unsung hero in your life, perhaps a neighbor, friend, or team of volunteers who dedicate their time and never seeks recognition for their efforts. We want to recognize their outstanding service to the Pittsburgh region.
To nominate an individual or group for the Jefferson Award, click the link below and tell us about someone that has made a difference in your organization or neighborhood. The best nominations include specific details and short anecdotes that demonstrate your nominee's character and the impact of their volunteerism.
Nominate an outstanding volunteer for the Jefferson Awards now.
Learn more about the national Jefferson Awards program.