President’s Volunteer Service Awards (PVSA)- NEW
Compass 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.
- Getting StartedRegister to Begin
Starting in summer 2019, PVSA no longer hosts individual accounts for volunteers, nor are volunteers linked to Compass through the record of service key. Compass requests that any homeschooled student in the metro-DC area who is volunteering and accumulating hours toward a PVSA award contact us to let us know your volunteer work is in progress! This will allow Compass to contact volunteers with important reminders about the award dates and award ceremony. Please let Compass know you are working on the PVSA award by submitting a note through the Contact Form or e-mailing: email@example.com
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.)
PVSA candidates certified by Compass must be full time homeschooled students for the award year that the volunteer work was performed (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 performed volunteer 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 to serve as the certifying agency.
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. 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 Compass administrator will make this designation during the hours review.
- Tracking & Submitting Volunteer Hours
Volunteers must track and itemize all of their volunteer hours on the Volunteer Activity Log. The Volunteer Activity Log is an Excel spreadsheet.
-Contact information at the top of the form must be completed.
-Individual volunteer tasks must be typed into the spreadsheet.
-Users may print out a hard copy of the log to track volunteer work by hand throughout the year, but the final version submitted to Compass must be typed into the cells of the spreadsheet.
-Users should save the Excel spreadsheet to their own computer/device and add their own names as extension such as, “Volunteer Activity Log- John Doe” before entering data.
-Users may not alter or reformat the spreadsheet as it is set-up to import into the PVSA system by Compass.
-When using the spreadsheet, please note that hours will total by page, and the Compass will make the final calculation by summing the pages.
-The Volunteer Activity Log must be returned to Compass by e-mail as an electronic Excel file.
-Compass cannot accept Google Sheets, pdf, or other electronic formats, nor can Compass accept faxed, photographed, scanned, or handwritten copies of the log.
Online Hours Tracking
Starting in summer 2019, PVSA abolished its online system for tracking volunteers’ hours. Volunteers who had entered some of all of their 2018-19 volunteer hours prior to the system change can contact Compass to receive an exported file of completed entries. A
Volunteer hours worked must be entered in the Volunteer Activity Log 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:
– March 3, 2019__Park Clean-Up__Boy Scouts__3.0 hours.
– April 4, 2019__Canned Food Collection__Reston Food Bank__4.0 hours
– May 5, 2019__Built Birdhouses__Meadowlark Gardens__5.0 hours
All volunteer work for the award year must be entered and submitted on the Volunteer Activity Log by 11:59 by on August 31.
- Compass Program RequirementsAward Year
The Compass award year shall run from September 1 through August 31 each year. The Volunteer Activity Log must be submitted via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11:59 pm on August 31, no exceptions. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Volunteers must not receive any compensation or stipend for the community service hours.
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.
For more information or questions on the PVSA, contact the Compass awards administrator at email@example.com.