Hawaii Congresswoman and Crowd-Funding Pioneer to Receive 2013 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards

November 11, 2013
Media Contacts: Rachel Flor (617) 514-1662
JFK Library Foundation

Esten Perez (617) 496-4009
The Institute of Politics

Hawaii Congresswoman and Crowd-Funding Pioneer
to Receive 2013 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards

Boston, MA – Congresswomen Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in the U.S. Congress and an emerging leader on veterans’ issues, and Charles Best, Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, a pioneering online charity that connects individual donors with public school teachers to meet classroom teaching needs, have been named this year’s recipients of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards. The awards will be presented by Jack Schlossberg, John F. Kennedy’s grandson and a member of the New Frontier Award Committee, at 6:00 p.m. on November 25, 2013 during a ceremony at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government [watch live webcast].

“We have been told over and over that America is no longer the great country that it was when my grandfather was president," said Jack Schlossberg. “But Charles Best and Tulsi Gabbard exemplify the spirit of public service that is the heart of President Kennedy’s legacy. From heads of state to community volunteers, from NASA to the Peace Corps, President Kennedy inspired people all over the world to put their time and talent to work on the great challenges of the era. Tulsi Gabbard and Charles Best are carrying that torch into a new era as direct descendants of my grandfather’s New Frontier. They are pioneers and problem-solvers who are stepping up to meet the challenges of our time with creativity, purpose and resolve,” Schlossberg said.

The John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards were created by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Institute of Politics to honor Americans under the age of 40 who are changing their communities and the country with their commitment to public service. The awards are presented annually to two exceptional individuals whose contributions in elective office, community service, or advocacy demonstrate the impact and the value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.

One of the New Frontier Awards honors an elected official whose work demonstrates the importance of elective service as a way to address a public challenge or challenges.  This award, called the Fenn Award, is presented to a young elected official in honor of Dan Fenn, the Kennedy Library’s first director and a former member of President Kennedy’s staff.  The other New Frontier Award honors an individual whose contributions in the realm of community service, advocacy or grassroots activism have had a positive impact on a broad public policy issue or challenge.

For more information visit the Kennedy Presidential Library’s website at www.jfklibrary.org or the Institute of Politics’ website at www.iop.harvard.edu.

Tulsi Gabbard
U.S. Representative (D-Hawaii)
Fenn Award Recipient

Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first two female combat veterans to serve as a member of the U.S. Congress. An advocate for environmental policy, Gabbard first ran for the Hawaii state legislature in 2002, where at 21 she became the youngest person ever to serve in that body. In 2003, she joined the Hawaii National Guard, and a year later, she voluntarily deployed to Iraq, eventually serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and she continues to serve as a Captain in the Hawaii National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team. Between her two tours of duty, Gabbard worked in the U.S. Senate as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka, where she advised on energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veterans’ affairs. In 2010, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council, where she served as Chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs committee and Vice Chair of the Budget committee. In 2012, Gabbard was elected to the U.S. Congress, where she has emerged as a leader on veterans’ issues and a voice for a younger generation of solutions-oriented political leaders. The first piece of legislation she introduced in the House, the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which streamlines airport security screenings for injured and disabled veterans, was enacted with bipartisan support.

Charles Best
Founder and CEO, DonorsChoose.org

Charles Best is Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that enables individuals to provide direct support to teachers and students in public schools. Best founded DonorsChoose.org at Wings Academy, a public high school in the Bronx where he taught social studies for five years. He came up with the idea during a conversation in the teachers’ lunch room, and his students volunteered to help start the organization. DonorsChoose.org enables public school teachers to post and publicize classroom projects, and individuals to donate directly to the projects of their choice. Today, teachers at half of all the public schools in the United States have created projects on DonorsChoose.org, and more than a million people have given a total of $200 million worth of books, art supplies, field trips, technology, and other resources directly to teachers and their students. DonorsChoose.org has enabled “citizen philanthropists” to help more than 10 million students in all, primarily students from low-income families. DonorsChoose.org was named by Fast Company as one of the "50 Most Innovative Companies in the World," the first time a charity has received such recognition.

At the New Frontier Awards ceremony, Jack Schlossberg will present Gabbard and Best each with a ship’s navigational compass in a wooden box bearing the inscription: “We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier….I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.”  – John F. Kennedy.

The New Frontier Awards are named after President Kennedy's bold challenge to Americans given in his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on July 15, 1960:

We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier…a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils -- a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. The New Frontier of which I speak is not a set of promises -- it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It appeals to their pride, not to their pocketbook -- it holds out the promise of more sacrifice instead of more security…. Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. It would be easier to shrink back from that frontier, to look to the safe mediocrity of the past, to be lulled by good intentions and high rhetoric…but I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decision. I am asking each of you to be pioneers on that New Frontier.

Past recipients of the New Frontier Awards include Cory A. Booker, U.S. Senator and former Mayor of Newark, New Jersey; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Wendy Kopp, Founder and CEO of Teach for America; Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General; Rebecca Onie, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Health Leads; and Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International.

A distinguished bipartisan committee of political and community leaders selected Gabbard and Best based on their contributions to the public and their embodiment of the forward-looking public idealism to which President Kennedy hoped young Americans would aspire. The 2013 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards Committee was chaired by Tom McNaught, Executive Director, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Trey Grayson, Director, Institute of Politics. Committee members are: Ranny Cooper, President  & COO, Weber Shandwick Public Affairs and former Chief of Staff for Senator Edward M. Kennedy; The Honorable William “Mo” Cowan, former United States Senator (D-MA) and former Chief of Staff, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; Dan Fenn, former member of President John F. Kennedy’s staff and former Director of the John F. Kennedy Library; Rachel Kaprielian, Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles and 1999 recipient, Fenn Award; Vivien Li, Executive Director, The Boston Harbor Association; Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change and recipient, 2005 New Frontier Award; Kristin McSwain, Executive Director, Boston Opportunity Agenda; The Honorable Doug Palmer, former Mayor, Trenton, NJ (1990-2010); Jack Schlossberg, Yale University student and grandson of President John F. Kennedy; Barbara Souliotis, former State Director, Office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy; and The Honorable Richard Tisei, Former Minority Leader, Massachusetts Senate.

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and Harvard University’s Institute of Politics both have their origins in the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, Inc., a non-profit corporation that was chartered in Massachusetts on December 5, 1963, to construct and equip the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Massachusetts.

The Kennedy Library Corporation raised more than $20 million for both the construction of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and for the creation and endowment of an institute at Harvard for the study of politics and public affairs. More than 30 million people from around the world, including school children, contributed to the fund.

In 1966, the Kennedy Library Corporation presented Harvard University with an endowment for the creation of the Institute of Politics (IOP).  Established as a memorial to President Kennedy, the IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service. Located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, the Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs. 

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation provides financial support, staffing, and creative resources for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a presidential library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and the Kennedy Library Foundation seek to promote, through educational and community programs, a greater appreciation and understanding of American politics, history, and culture, the process of governing and the importance of public service.