The Academy of Achievement, officially known as the American Academy of Achievement, was founded in 1961 by Sports Illustrated and LIFE magazine photographer Brian Reynolds to bring together accomplished people from diverse fields in order to network and to encourage the next generation of young leaders.
The first event hosted by the Academy was a "Banquet of the Golden Plate" on September 9, 1961, in Monterey, California, which was named after the hotel's "gold plate service" that was only used for special occasions. The Golden Plate is awarded for an individual's contributions to science, the arts, public service, sports and industry. The first honorees were chosen by a national board of governors.
In 1985, Reynold's son, Wayne, and his son's wife, Catherine B. Reynolds took over the leadership. In the 1990s, Reynolds moved the organization from Malibu, California, to Washington, D.C.
On October 27, 2012, the Banquet of the Golden Plate celebrated its 50th anniversary in Washington, D.C.
The Academy also hosts the International Achievement Summit each year, attended by graduate students from the U.S. and overseas. The summits were originally attended by high school students chosen based on their academic achievement and extracurricular activities. With time the event evolving into a gathering of speakers and panelists which the Wall Street Journal called "perhaps the glitziest gathering of intellect and celebrity that no one has ever heard of."