Volunteer Scholars 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). The ACA is a noteworthy accomplishment on a member’s personal resume and on applications for other college, scholarships, and other honors.

In order to be eligible for this award, members 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:


Membership Recognized volunteers must have a valid membership in Volunteer Scholars at the Gold or Platinum level to have their volunteer work reviewed and certified for the PVSA award.

Student Status
Members must be enrolled in public school, private school, parochial school, charter school, home school, online or virtual school, hybrid of these, or community college (through age 18).

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

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.)

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 Volunteer Scholars to confirm.

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 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.)

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 Volunteer Scholars to confirm .

Other Program Requirements

Award Year
The ACA award year shall run from September 1 through August 31 each year. All ACA hours must be entered in the Volunteer Scholars online portal 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
Volunteer Scholars will review all applications and maintains the right to contact beneficiary organizations to verify service work completed. Volunteer Scholars may reject any applications that are incompletely documented, unsubstantiated, or that are of an excluded type of participation.

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, National Honor Society, Beta Club, 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.

What does not count at 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 the Volunteer Scholars awards administration at info@volunteerscholars.org