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The Congressional Award: A History

Over 40 years of commitment to Wyoming youth

The Congressional Award was introduced by Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop and New Jersey Congressman James Howard, established by the 96th Congress of the United States of America on November 16, 1979 by Public Law 96-114, and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. It operates as a private-public partnership and receives all funding from the private sector. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have each signed continuing legislation keeping the Congressional Award Act available for generations of American youth aged 13 1/2—23. The program is open to all, regardless of grades, current abilities, physical disability, race, religion, or socio-economic status. The only requirement is a willingness to commit to the four program components.

The Wyoming Congressional Award Council is proud to carry on the vision of Senator Wallop and Representative Howard by maintaining a strong, locally-managed program in Wyoming. A bipartisan commitment to the mandate of a public-private partnership allows the program to thrive and serve our youth in countless ways as they meet the unique challenges of the 21st century.

Each year, thousands of American youth across the country set goals and make the commitment to earn their Bronze, Silver, and Gold medal. Wyoming is the only state in the U.S. to manage its own program, providing additional support and service opportunities, a statewide and local mentoring network, and scholarship dollars. Wyoming is proud of its commitment to developing the next generation of leaders within the state. The Wyoming Congressional Award Council manages Wyoming residents who seek to earn The Congressional Award; visit for information about how to participate outside the state of Wyoming. 

Earning a Congressional Award is a big commitment, with a big return.

To become a Congressional Gold Medalist, participants must complete a minimum of 400 hours of voluntary service, 200 hours each of personal development and physical fitness goals, and a five day expedition or exploration.

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