American Citizenship Award

Compass is an awarding organization for the American Citizenship Award (ACA). The ACA is a formal award jointly administered by The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). Students will be recognized and receive their awards at an annual ceremony. The ACA is a noteworthy accomplishment on a student’s personal resume and on applications for other honors and college.

In order to be eligible for this award, students must demonstrate that they promote citizenship and have a good understanding of civic responsibility. This is accomplished by completing fifteen (15) hours of service projects or educational experiences that expand a student’s understanding of citizenship. Program details are below:

  • Eligibility
    Homeschool Status
    ACA applicants must be full time homeschooled students for the award year that the citizenship efforts were completed (September 1 through August 31) and during the term when the award is presented (early October). If a homeschooled student is not enrolled at Compass, he/she will be asked to submit their county’s homeschool acknowledgement letter demonstrating homeschool status by August 31 each year. If a student was homeschooled and completed citizenship work during the award year, but then enrolls in school, he/she is not eligible to received the award through Compass and should ask his/her new school about the award.

    Homeschooled students ages 6 through 18 can earn this award. A student must be age 6 by August 31 (in other words, the student may have completed some activities while 5 years old, but must turn 6 by the end of the award cycle). A student cannot turn 19 before March 1 of the award year (in other words, the student was 18 for at least 6 months and 1 day, or “more than half”, of the award year.)

    Compass Enrollment
    Enrolled Compass students from VA, MD, DC, and WV may apply for this award. Other homeschooled students from the northern Virginia* community can apply for this award even if they are not Compass students. Homeschooled students who do not attend Compass and/or live in the northern Virginia area, or students from any other educational setting (public, private, parochial, virtual, etc) can earn this award through the Volunteer Scholars program. (*Northern Virginia shall include Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas Park and Falls Church.)

  • Qualifying Activities
    Qualifying Hours
    Students must complete fifteen (15) hours of Citizenship activities through service or education, or a combination thereof.

    Citizenship Service Activities
    Citizenship Service activities should be volunteer efforts that increase awareness of how the government works or supports veterans, active duty military, voter education, voter services, care of the flag, etc. Example Citizenship Service activities include:

    -Volunteer on a candidate’s campaign at federal, state, or local level
    -Place wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery or other military resting place
    -Place American flags at a memorial
    -Assist with a naturalization ceremony
    -Assist at polling location
    -Conduct a proper flag retirement ceremony/disposal
    -Work on a service project to support active duty military or law enforcement
    -Work on a service project to support veterans
    -Participate in an Honor Flight
    -Participate in parade or event for Memorial Day or Fourth of July
    -Assist with voter registration
    -Participate in a relay or run to raise funds for wounded warriors

    Other service activities. If you participate in service programs and are not sure if they would “count” as Citizenship Service, please contact Compass to confirm at

    Citizenship Education Activities
    Citizenship Education activities should be informative explorations that teach aspects of how the government works, how the legal system works, or information about voting. Example Citizenship Education activities are:

    -Take a tour of US Capitol, White House, or Supreme Court
    -Take a tour of a state capital
    -Take a tour of the National Archives to see founding documents
    -Tour a local or district court, observe court proceedings
    -Visit key locations related to the establishment of our Constitution
    -Attend a wreath-laying or other formal ceremony honoring military service or veterans
    -Take a workshop or participate in a lecture or program about voting, branches of government, how a bill becomes a law, etc.
    -Take a workshop or participate in a lecture or program about the legal system. (Mock Trial, Moot Court, Teen Court, and similar programs may be counted toward this.)
    -Take a workshop or participate in a lecture or program about suffrage
    -Take a workshop or participate in a lecture or program about military service or law enforcement. (JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, Young Marines, Junior Police, Youth Cadet and similar programs may be counted toward this.)
    -Earn a Boy Scout or Girl Scout badge on citizenship (GS Brownie Celebrating Community, GS Junior Inside Government, GS Senior Behind the Ballot, GS Ambassador Public Policy, BS merit badges on Law, Citizenship in the Community, or Citizenship in the Nation)
    -Watch a live or televised debate among political candidates (note: watching debates cannot count for more than 3 hours of the 15 required hours.)
    -Read a non-fiction book about about citizenship, government, the legal system, Constitution, or voting rights. The book should be something extra that you read, not a textbook or class-assigned book. (note: reading a book(s) cannot count for more than 3 hours of the 15 required hours.)
    -Virtual, televised, or recorded workshops and lectures, or online classes can be substituted for in-person programming for 2020.

    Other education activities. If you participate in other tours, workshops, programs, or lectures and are not sure if they would “count” as Citizenship Education, please contact Compass to confirm at

  • Other Program Requirements
    Award Year
    The Compass ACA award year shall run from September 1 through August 31 each year. The ACA application must be submitted by e-mail, fax, or US mail by 11:59 pm on August 31. Applications received after that time cannot be counted for the closing year, nor can they be carried forward to the next year.

    Review/Acceptance of Application
    Compass will review all applications and maintains the right to contact beneficiary organizations to verify service work completed. Compass may reject any applications that are incompletely documented, unsubstantiated, or that are of an excluded type of participation.

    Award Ceremony
    An awards ceremony will be held at 4:30 pm on the last Wednesday afternoon in October each year for the recipients of the prior year’s awards. Attendance at the award ceremony shall be a condition of receiving your award. Check the date and plan for it in your schedule if you have applied for an award. Awards will not be given to students who do not show up for the ceremony regardless of reason.

    Cost of Awards
    Compass will order and pay for the award with grants received from an outside foundation.There is no cost for Compass students to register as a candidate for the award. There is no cost for the award package (certificate and pin) for non-Compass students, but there is a $15.00 facility/activity fee for non-Compass students. A Compass student is someone who was registered for Compass classes at some time during the award year (September 1 – August 31) and is a registered student at the time of the Awards Ceremony (October). The facility/activity fee for non-Compass students is not refundable if the student enrolls later in the year.

    Double Dipping/Double Counting Service Hours
    Citizenship service hours counted towards the ACA do not need to be uniquely earned for this award. Hours completed through, or required by, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Eta Sigma Alpha, church, or similar civic or community initiatives, may be applied towards a ACA award, even if they are performed towards earning another award or recognition.

  • What Does Not Count as Citizenship Service Hours?
    Court-Ordered Service
    Volunteer service mandated by the court cannot be counted.

    Unused/Rollover Hours
    Service hours must be completed in the 12 month award period. Unused hours may not be “rolled over” to the next award period.

    Paid Work
    Volunteers must not receive any compensation or stipend for the service hours.

    Monetary/In-Kind Donations
    Monetary or in-kind donations to an organization do not have a volunteer hour equivalency and cannot be counted.

    Work for Your Own Family
    A student’s work within or for his/her own family shall not be counted. For example, a student who helps her activity duty military father with household chores or another who assists his retired, veteran grandfather with yardwork, would not count as service. Although admirable, these activities are part of being a family, not supporting the larger community.

    Marches, Rallies, Protests
    Participation in marches, rallies, or protests shall not count as service hours.

  • What Does Not Count as Citizenship Education Hours?
    Ordinary Classwork
    Enrollment in a routine, age/grade leveled class on civics or government. (For example, a teen who takes a semester or year long high school class on Civics or American Government cannot count the class.)

    Unused/Rollover Education
    Education experiences must be completed in the 12 month award period. Unused or “extra” education hours may not be “rolled over” to the next award period.

The application for an American Citizenship Award is attached:American Citizenship Award Application

For more information or questions on the ACA, contact Compass awards administration at