President’s Volunteer Service Awards (PVSA)

PVSA Logo SquareCompass is an approved Certifying Organization (CO) for the President’s Volunteer Service Awards (PVSA). The PVSA is a prestigious national honor offered in recognition of volunteer commitment. Established in 2003, this award honors individuals and groups who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to volunteer service over the course of 12 months. Service hours can be accumulated on a variety of projects throughout the year.

The PVSA is awarded annually at the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels. For many, earning one or more awards will be a noteworthy honor on future college or scholarship applications.

Volunteer Levels
PVSA Hours Table

  • Getting Started
    Volunteers must register with PVSA in order to create an online account to track hours. Children under age 14 must provide a parent’s e-mail and obtain parental permission. Once a parent has received a link and approved the child’s account, tabs will appear to enter the certifying organization (CO) and to begin entering hours.

    Accounts for Children Age 13 and Under
    The PVSA organization may be delayed in acknowledging the request for an account for a child under age 13. Plan ahead and make sure you have requested your child’s online account before the end of the award term. If the parent does not receive an e-mail link to approve the child’s account within 48 hours, the parent should e-mail the organization at to have the link re-sent.

    Link to Compass
    Volunteers must designate Compass as their certifying organization (CO) in their online account. Volunteers should enter the Record of Service (ROS) Key YJG-9797 in order to link their volunteer hours to Compass for certification. If the Compass ROS key is not added to your account, Compass will not be able to view your child’s participation and will not know to certify or order awards.

  • Eligibility
    Recognized volunteers must be US citizens or lawfully admitted permanent residents of the US.
    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.)

    Homeschool Status
    PVSA candidates certified by Compass must be full time homeschooled students. If a homeschooled student is not enrolled at Compass, he/she will be asked to submit their county’s homeschool acknowledgement letter for the award year by August 31 each year.

    Compass Enrollment
    Students from the greater metro DC homeschool community can apply for this award. Applicants do not have to be Compass students.

    Aging Up a Level Mid-Year
    PVSA has different award levels by age with increasing expectations as participants get older. There is a change in required hours between ages 10 and 11 (kids to teen) and beteen 15 and 16 (teen to young adult). For example, a 10-year-old needs to complete only 50 hours for a Silver Award, but an 11-year-old is expected to complete 75 hours for Silver. There is a special rule and administrative step for students who age-up mid year. If a child is the younger age for more than a half-year, his/her hours will be submitted at the lower age. If the child ages up with more than a half year of the award year remaining, he/she will be counted at the new, older age. In other words, if a student turns 11 (or 16) on or after March 1, he/she may be counted as age 10 (or 15) for the award year. The PVSA program allows this accommodation, but the online system does not contain this logic. If this condition applies to your child, you must e-mail the Compass PVSA administrator to have a manual correction made in the system.

  • Tracking Volunteer Hours
    Online Tracking
    Volunteer hours worked must be entered in the online tracking system by the volunteer in discrete entries noting the date worked, hours worked, activity description, and beneficiary organization.
    As an example, instead of entering “12 hours- Boy Scouts”, our reviewers must be able to see specifics like:
    – 5 hours- Park clean-up on March 3
    – 4 hours- Food bank collection on April 4
    – 3 hours- Building habitats for the animal shelter on May 5
  • Compass Program Requirements
    Award Year
    The Compass award year shall run from September 1 through August 31 each year. All volunteer hours must be entered by 11:59 pm on August 31. Hours entered after than time cannot be counted for the closing year, nor can they be carried forward to the next year.

    Review/Acceptance of Hours
    Compass will review all service hour entries and maintains the right to contact beneficiary organizations to verify volunteer work completed. Compass may reject any entries that are incorrectly 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 first 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 are applying 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 all awards with grants received from an outside foundation. Compass will furnish the medallion package (customized parchment certificate and medal on neck ribbon) for all students.

  • What Counts as Volunteer Service?
    Type of Community Service
    Volunteers may perform any type of community service that they wish. Major service catergories suggested by PVSA include: education, healthy futures, environmental stewardship, veterans and military families, economic opportunity, disaster services, and more.

    Double Dipping/Double Counting Service Hours
    Community service hours counted towards the PVSA 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 PVSA award, even if they are performed towards earning another award or recognition.

    Self-Organized Work
    Community service work does not need to be done through an organization or established program. Self-initiated service work such as an individual’s or family’s commitment to cleaning up a park or stream, can be counted for this award. Compass may ask for additional details or documentation on self-initiated projects.

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

    Unused/Rollover Hours
    Volunteer hours must be completed in the 12 month award period. Unused hours may not be “rolled over” to the next award period. The exception is the Lifetime Achievement Award which is cumulative across multiple years.

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

    Unpaid Student Work
    Not all unpaid student work can be counted as volunteer, community service work. Unpaid work in a for-profit place of business, such as an office, is considered an internship experience and shall not count as volunteer work because the student’s effort would benefit a business rather than a charitable effort.

    Work for Family
    Unpaid work for family is usually not counted as volunteer work. Mowing the lawn for your parents or washing a car for your grandparents is considered a contribution to your own family and not volunteer work that benefits the community. Work in the family’s business is not usually considered volunteer work. If you believe that there should be an exception, contact the PVSA administrator through Compass.

    Live-In Exchange Student
    Activities and interactions with an exchange student who is living in your home is generally not considered volunteer work. Eating, running errands, taking trips, going on outings, and doing ordinary activities of daily life when accompanied by an exchange student does not transform such activities into a volunteer role (since you would likely be doing these things anyway, without an exchange student.)

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

    Attendance/Participation in an Organization
    A student’s attendance at regular meetings or participation in field trips, such as a Girl Scout meeting or Boy Scout field trip, do not count as volunteer hours. However, service projects or charitable work done through one of these organizations, such as a youth group visit to a nursing home, can be counted.

    Hours spent on fundraising activities for a member’s own organization cannot be counted as service. For example, time spent earning money through the sale of Boy Scout popcorn, Girl scout cookies, honor society pizza day, etc., cannot be counted as community service. However, efforts expended to raise money for another charitable organization, such as a carwash or lemonade stand to raise funds for the animal shelter or cancer society, could be counted.

PVSA Awards

For more information or questions on the PVSA, contact the Compass awards administrator at