PVSA certificate

The President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA)

VolunteerCrowd is a Certifying Organization for the PVSA

When it comes to certifying organizations for the President’s Volunteer Service Award (PVSA), students have a range of options. But, it’s tricky. Schools, especially private schools, will verify hours but often only for approved charities. Individual military branches, government agencies, civic, national service programs, or businesses may also certify, but only for related charities or causes. VolunteerCrowd’s College and Career Advantage Program is different. We certify all hours for students, K-12 through college, serving verified nonprofits or schools. But, there is a lot you need to understand before you get started.

Showcasing the PVSA on Your College Apps

Right now, students are volunteering to qualify for the 2022 President’s Volunteer Service Award. Last year, many seniors achieved gold, silver, and bronze awards in time to list their awards on their college apps. Some students even had their 2020 hours certified. Because VolunteerCrowd is a comprehensive volunteer program where students can find, track, verify, and credential their achievements, students had digital proof of earning their PVSA.

Pro Tips

  • Add the link to your VolunteerCrowd digital transcript, which includes volunteer hours by cause area, top organizations served, character strengths, and PVSA’s earned, to the Common App or Coalition for College application.
  • If you earn volunteering or shadowing digital badges for contributing over 50 hours of your time, be sure to include it on your college and job apps and LinkedIn profile.
  • Ask a volunteer coordinator with a nonprofit you served for a Letter of Recommendation that talks about your impact and character strengths.

Add School and Club Hours to Earn Higher PVSA Awards

When you add all of your school, church, Scouts, National Charity League, Assisteens, Key Club, college degree, and sorority or fraternity hours, you may be amazed how much time you have volunteered in a year! VolunteerCrowd verifies hours for school, club, and individual volunteering from middle school through college. (See below: Does VolunteerCrowd Certify all Hours?) Our program’s award calendar begins January 1st through December 31st. Take a longer term view and build your transcript over several years. Show a future college admissions advisor or employer how you are different by dedicating yourself to making a difference. (See video.)

Know PVSA Qualifying Levels for Your Age

For VolunteerCrowd specifically, the student’s age on January 1st determines the number of hours a student has to volunteer for each award level. For example, if you turn 16 on May 2nd, and volunteer 113 hours that year, you qualify for the gold award because you were 15 on January 1st when the award year began.

Kids (5-10 years old)26-49 hours50-74 hours75+ hours
Teens (11-15 years old)50-74 hours75-99 hours100+ hours
Young adults (16-25)100-174 hours175-249 hours250+ hours

How Does PVSA Certification Work?

That’s a popular question. In fact, we dedicate monthly office hours for volunteers to learn more and ask questions. Students who join the College and Career Advantage Program can use the VolunteerCrowd app to track service hours. See our post, How to Track Volunteer Hours. We send an automated email to the nonprofit organization contact listed for the project with a custom link to VolunteerCrowd’s hour’s verification system. Your connection will see all of the information you provided and include dates, times, and how you made an impact. Next, your nonprofit contact approves hours and has the option of endorsing the skills and strengths you demonstrated while volunteering. All endorsements appear on your service transcript, which you can send to colleges and universities along with your college app. (PRO TIP: Every time you volunteer, be sure to make a lasting impression with your volunteer coordinators!)

Is There A Cost for the PVSA Certificate?

By definition, the certifying organization that gives the President’s Volunteer Service Award must confirm students’ community service time. Clubs that offer the award like National Charity League, Assisteens, or Girl Scouts may charge dues or program fees. Similarly, VolunteerCrowd charges for the College and Career Advantage Plan, which helps students find, track, and verify service projects and create a verified service transcript. With the College and Career Advantage Plan, students have access to premium projects in all twenty-one cause areas like STEM, health, environmental, and business.

Certifying volunteer hours for the President’s Volunteer Service Award is part of our College and Career Advantage Plan. However, our program is much more than that! Students can create a verified service transcript and earn digital badges to add to their LinkedIn profiles, Common App, or job, internship, scholarship, or merit aid applications. We also request strength and skill endorsements on behalf of the volunteer. Note, there is no cost for the PVSA Certificate we send to students who earn the award. 

What about Certifying Virtual Volunteer Hours for the PVSA?

Online volunteering is popular due to Covid-19, but is not new. The same suggestions for in-person volunteering apply for confirming virtual hours. First, ask your volunteer coordinator who is authorized to approve hours. Start with a friendly introduction and share a little about what attracted you to the cause. As you work, give regular updates on your productivity. For instance, if you are making masks take a picture and email it and post it to social media tagging the nonprofit. And always, always, provide accurate contact information when adding your hours in the VolunteerCrowd app.

Does VolunteerCrowd Certify All Hours for the PVSA?

That depends on a few things. First, the volunteer coordinator must remember the student’s contribution, so don’t be shy. Introduce yourself, check-in during the project, and thank your contact for the opportunity. Next, your connection must be a representative of a verified nonprofit or school. What does that mean? Students cannot list a parent’s, sibling’s, friend’s (or their own!) name and email as the primary contact. The contact’s email should match the organization. (Good example: volunteers@redcross.com; questionable example: redcross@hotmail.com). Listing accurate and valid contact information is the best way to get your hours approved. Otherwise, students risk not having volunteer hours approved. Contact us with any questions. Or, visit the official President’s Volunteer Service Award website.

Will VolunteerCrowd Verify Past Hours Completed?

It depends how far back you volunteered and the guidelines we receive from Points of Light. VolunteerCrowd will certify hours when you subscribe to the College and Career Advantage Plan. We verify hours during the subscription period. That means if you join April 1st, 2022, VolunteerCrowd verifies hours from April 1st, 2022 to April 1st, 2023. However, we can verify past hours by prorating the College and Career Advantage Plan. For example, if you want hours verified from April 1st, 2021 to March 31st, 2022, VolunteerCrowd will bill you separately. Additionally, you need an active plan to order your official service transcript through Parchment for colleges, universities, and employment.

Need some inspiration? Student Spotlights

See our post, Student Volunteer and Social Entrepreneur, for some encouragement! At just 15 year’s old, Nitin has already received $1000 in seed funding, created a non-profit club, tutors kids online from India, and volunteers at his local park — all while excelling in school and finding time to help his sister with her volunteer projects. Oh, and he has achieved Gold for the 2021 President’s Volunteer Service Award!

There’s also our post about Devanshi, Virtual High School Volunteer Tutor and Mentor, a motivated volunteer who’s had a life-changing volunteer experience. She tutors kids with Down Syndrome in math and literacy, tutors students in India learning to speak and communicate in English, and participates in projects in the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Devanshi sets an example and is a shining light to all!

How Can Students Find Volunteer Opportunities?

VolunteerCrowd’s programs are available to students, parents, guidance counselors, and college consultants. We work with nonprofits throughout the US to find academic-focused local and virtual volunteer opportunities. Learn which nonprofits are supporting 55M students who are trying to learn remotely by reading, Teen and College Virtual Volunteers Needed. Learn how to help isolated seniors with cards, calls, and supply drop-offs. Check back with us on the VolunteerCrowd blog or contact us if you have a specific question.

VolunteerCrowd finds academic-related volunteer and shadowing opportunities to inspire students. We help them build a verified service transcript, earn digital badges and request Letters of Recommendation to impress colleges and employers. Visit VolunteerCrowd or download the app.


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