Skip to main content

Cornell University

David M. Einhorn Center for
Community Engagement

An integration of the Public Service Center and
the Office of Engagement Initiatives

Class of '64 John F. Kennedy Memorial Award

Alumni Panel Recording: Learn about how alumni were impacted by this award and their careers in public service.

Learn about the founding, what makes a good applicant, and the lasting impact of the award from alumni.

The purpose of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award is to encourage well-qualified students to enter careers in government or other public service fields. The Class of 1964 urges graduating Cornellians to consider careers in public service and invites them to apply.

This $15,000 award endeavors to further President Kennedy's intense interest in realizing the leadership potential of America's youth, as evidenced by the creation of such programs as the Peace Corps and the White House Summer Seminar. Throughout his presidency, Kennedy sought to bring together the intellectual power of the country's college and university scholars with the practical skills of politicians and statesmen in the service of national leadership.  The Cornell Class of 1964 feels that the United States will remain strong only if it is ably led, that our leadership must be constantly rejuvenated, and that the solutions to our nation's problems require the practical application of the knowledge and analytical abilities derived from a college education. 

With this purpose in mind, the Class of 1964 established the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award, to be bestowed annually upon a graduating senior from any of Cornell's undergraduate schools and colleges, based on the following criteria:

  1. A commitment to making a significant contribution to the public through a career in government or other form of public service;
  2. Potential for such contributions as demonstrated by past experience in public service either on or off campus;
  3. Academic achievement.

Students contemplating their futures have many good options, among them academic careers, professional training, entry into private sector employment, and a wide variety of public service careers in government, the non-profit sector, and elsewhere. The Class of 1964 believes that service in the public interest has never been more necessary and that there remains a critical need for intelligent and dedicated graduates devoted to addressing the public good and working to solve such pervasive problems as hatred, fear, prejudice, injustice, poverty, ill health and the degradation of our natural resources.

The JFK Memorial Award is intended to help the recipient get started in a public service career where remuneration may be low or slow to accumulate.

Two letters of recommendation are required.  One should be from a faculty member or other person qualified to attest to your academic achievements, the other from a professional who can speak to your character, goals and experience in public service.

Application on Qualtrics is now open. Only complete applications, including letters of recommendation, which are received by the due dates, will be considered. Please consult the FAQ for answers to most of your questions, or consult the Einhorn Center at

Applications and letter of references are due Thursday, November 18th, 2021.

Please visit the Class of 1964 website to learn more about the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award and to hear from past recipients.