Two organizations will take home new awards from the Arcus Center at Kalamazoo College on Saturday, May 11th. It is the first time the center will hand out its Global Prize for Collaborative Social Justice Leadership worth $25,000 as well as a $5,000 regional prize. Eighteen finalists are vying for the awards. The jurors for the competition include nationally known activist and academic Angela Davis. Members of the public who attend presentations on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will also get a chance to weigh in on the selection of the winners.
Arcus Center Executive Director Jaime Grant says prizes are a good way to promote social justice worldwide. She says they give organizations a chance to demonstrate what the values are. The prize competition began with a call for short videos describing the projects seeking the awards. That drew 188 entries that were winnowed down to fifteen finalists for the global prize and three for the regional.
Grant says the finalists for the global prize include the Dalia Association, a group that uses micro-loans raised locally to help Palestinians create small businesses. Another finalist is the DREAM Summer National Internship Program based at UCLA that helps immigrant youths become leaders in the immigration reform movement.
Two of the regional prize finalists come from Kalamazoo and the third is in Marshall. Playgrown, based in Kalamazoo, is working on creating a combination art and play space in Detroit that deals with issues like poverty, economic disparities, and relationships between the generations. Welcoming Michigan, also based in Kalamazoo, works on immigration reform. The group Irresponsible Development as a Social Injustice of Marshall that works on locally-based development projects in Peru and other countries.
Kalamazoo College President Eileen Wilson-Oyelaren will announce the prize winners at 7:15 p.m. Saturday in the Dalton Theatre.