Is the Presidential Service Award for High School Students?

Have you ever wondered if high school students could earn the the Presidential Service Award? If you are currently in high school, you are likely starting to think about college applications. You are trying to make the best grades possible while having a variety of extracurricular activities. Did you know that the Common App has an Awards and Honors Section as well? This section can help you stand out against other students that have similar rankings and GPAs.

One great way to stand out is to earn the Presidential Service Award. This award can be earned by any volunteers over the age of 5 years old! So yes, you can certainly earn this award, however it takes a little planning. I’m here to help you figure this out.

Here are 7 steps to help you get started on earning the Presidential Service Award. I hope you give it serious consideration. It’s a great way to get motivated to give back to the community. You are helping others while helping yourself at the same time.

“Act as if what you do makes a difference…it does”

– William James

Presidential Service Award for High School Students

1. Find out if you are Eligible

Presidential Service Award for High School Students
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on

First and foremost, you need to make sure you are actually eligible to receive the award. There are two requirements:

  • Be at Least 5 Years Old
  • Be a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e. green card holder)

So if you are in middle school or high school, you have already met one of the two. If you have immigrated from another country, make sure you meet the second criteria. Just because you are enrolled in school, does not automatically mean you meet the second criteria, so check with your parents or school counselor.

Lastly you need to make sure you have the time. The volunteer hours have to be completed within a 12 month period. So if you are slammed with extracurricular activities in a particular school year, maybe plan to wait until you have more time available after school.

2. Find a Certifying Organization

Unfortunately, not all volunteer work will count for the Presidential Service Award (PSVA). So you need to plan ahead and find an organization that has been granted the authority to give out the award. So do your homework before you agree to volunteer for an organization. I would recommend searching for “PSVA Certified Organizations.” Some of these non-profits provide volunteer opportunities that you can work on at home. I was able to find a handful of virtual opportunities in a few minutes. In addition, you might consider asking your church or some of your favorite local charities.

Another way to find potential charities is to check out the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity website. This website is for college students and they are a PSVA certified organization, so you might be able to find some ideas of organizations where high school students can volunteer.

3. Choose an Presidential Service Award Level Goal

Now you found a certifying organization, you need to determine which volunteer award level is your goal. See below for the current volunteer hour requirements for each award level. The age category is determined by the age the person was for at least 7 months of the 12 month period. For example, if you turned 16 on July 1st, then at least your 12 month timeframe would need include July thru February of the following year.

Age GroupBronzeSilverGoldLifetime
Young Adults (16-25)100-174 hours175-249 hours250+ hours4,000 hours

3. Plan out your Volunteer Hours

If you are a procrastinator, this step is crucial to earning the award. Remember the minimum number of hours for the Bronze Award is 100, so planning is key. Look at the table below to help you in your planning.

MonthBronze (100 hours)Silver (175 hours)Gold (200 hours)
Total for 12 Months100175200
Volunteer Hours Evenly Distributed Across 12 Months

If you prefer to utilize the summer months to do a big chunk of your volunteering, I suggest a schedule similar to the following table. You might consider increasing the amount of hours during your winter break as well. This example schedule assumes you will start your volunteering for this award in the summer.

MonthBronze (100)Silver (175)Gold (200)
Total for 12 Months100175200
Assuming Summer is months 1 and 2

I highly recommend planning the hours out. You don’t want to get down to the last couple of months and have so many hours left that you can’t possibly get to the desired award level. Obviously, you can always drop down to the previous level, but it would be a shame to be really close to the higher level and then have to drop down.

5. Contact Volunteer Organization for Verification

Before you get started, I recommend you contact the volunteer organization that you hope to certify your volunteer hours. Make sure they are still certified and find out how you need to report your hours to them. I would suggest emailing someone at the organization to get email confirmation that they are still certified. It would be a bummer to go through all the work and then find out organization no longer participates in the program.

You also need to find out if there is any type of training you need to attend before volunteering. The training might not count in your volunteer hours, so make sure you understand what activities count toward the PSVA.

6. Find Out Hours Reporting Process

Contact the volunteer coordinator to find out how they certify your hours and how you need to report them to the organization. There might be a monthly deadline or you might need to submit pictures of your work. Make sure you know everything you need to provide so you get credit for all of your work.

7. Start Volunteering Early in High School

man and woman sitting at the table
Photo by RDNE Stock project on

I highly encourage you to start this project during your freshman or sophomore year of high school. You can finish it up during your junior year, but certainly be done by the end of that junior year. You need have the volunteer hours completed by the end of junior year so that the certifying organization has time to validate and present you the award. It would be a shame to have to submit your college applications while still working on earning this award. So get started early and good luck!

This post is all how the Presidential Service Award is for High School Students.

I sincerely hope you consider working towards this award. It doesn’t cost anything to earn this award, it only needs hard work, commitment and persistence. Developing these three qualities will help you as you go through life. I also hope that by committing to volunteer work, you might find some type of service that you will want to continue throughout college and beyond.

“The solution to each problem that confronts us begins with an individual who steps forward and says, ‘I can help.'”

– President George H.W Bush, Found of Points of Light

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