Advisors are a critical component of the Congressional Award program. While any 13 1/2 to 23-year-old may pursue a Congressional Award, it takes the commitment of volunteer adults to help them realize their potential. Advisors guide participants through the goal setting process in each of the four program areas and monitor their progress toward the Congressional Award.
Any adult may serve as an Advisor with the exception of parents, relatives or peers of the participants. It is the responsibility of the participants to identify their advisor. The State Office encourages participants to reach out into their communities to select an adult that they feel comfortable working with to help them set goals within each of the four required program areas. Potential Congressional Award advisors include teachers, Scoutmasters, guidance counselors, coaches, neighbors and youth leaders.
One pillar of the philosophy behind the Award is that it is designed to bridge the gap between adolescence and adulthood. Working with adults is one way this can be achieved. Most participants will work with five or more adults throughout the program – one advisor and four or more validators – providing them with the opportunity to learn from adults outside of their family who share their enthusiasm, skill and experience.
By working with adults, the Congressional Award program encourages young people to establish new links within their community. These links allow young people to explore new areas while learning more about themselves and the world around them. We encourage each participant to step outside of their comfort zone in hopes that there will be a possibility for new relationships to develop. Participants may inherit new values, come to understand the contributions they can make in the community, and build self esteem through the relationships with the advisor and validators.
Advisors meet with the young people while they set personally challenging goals, stay in touch while the participant pursues the Award, and provide assistance with the record book detailing their goals and activities.
Any adult may serve as an advisor or validator with the exception of parents, relatives or peers of the participants. It is the responsibility of the participants to identify their advisor and validators. The State Office encourages participants to reach out into their communities to select adults who are knowledgeable in the given program areas to serve as validators.
The appropriate validator depends upon the activities a participant selects to achieve his or her goals. Validators whould be knowledgeable or experienced in the activities pursued in each of the program areas. If a young person’s goal and activities involved basketball, a coach would make a suitable validator. Similarly, if a young person volunteers at an animal shelter, an employee or the volunteer coordinator would be an appropriate validator.
If an appropriate validator cannot be found, and the advisor is knowledgeable in the specific program area, then the advisor may serve as the validator, but for no more than two goals.
Validators should be identified when the participant sets his or her goals. The validator should be aware of the goal set forth on the Summary of Goal Plan for which he or she will be validating. The validator may help the participant identify his or her starting level in a particular area. It is essential that participant discuss the goal with the validator prior to beginning work on that specific goal.
Validators should periodically check in with the young person to monitor progress. Once the requirements have been met, the validator will review the appropriate record book page provided by the participant, sign and make comments.