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 national awards are given in five categories:
Past winners of the national award include Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite, General Colin Powell, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Oprah Winfrey, Kirk Douglas, Arthur Ashe, Paul Newman, Lance Armstrong, Peyton Manning, Bill & Melinda Gates, among many others.
The Jefferson Awards is the nation's largest media partnership highlighting service to America.