Lizzo honored for social justice work with Elevate Prize Catalyst Award
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Healing is an act of bravery. It requires us to look deep into the mirror; peeling back layers to reveal the most intimate parts of ourselves that need a bit of grace, care and love. I believe that art plays such a beautiful role in reflecting the nuance that resides within our pursuit to mend the pieces of our being that we keep locked away. Whether I’m listening to the genre-bending soundscapes of Kelela, consuming the transcendent words of akwaeke emezi or being teleported to another dimension through Kehinde Wiley’s meticulous brushstrokes, art — in all of its forms — creates portals that allow us to see and be seen.
South African artist and activist, Zanele Muholi, once said “If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.” As I reflect on a world that has experienced so much grief and loss it becomes incredibly clear how vital it is for creative laborers to cultivate the gateways toward our collective bravery; providing us with the tools to truly see ourselves. Art holds the necessary ingredients that invite us to anchor deeper into our seats as we unpack the elements that we have become too comfortable with hiding. There is so much beauty and possibility created when seeing one’s humanity reflected on the screen or in a museum which is why I’m committed to nurturing the voices, experiences and identities of intersectional storytellers at Open Television and beyond.
As the Co-Founder of a streaming platform and media incubator for intersectional storytellers, I have the privilege of witnessing artists from around the globe work to heal themselves and their communities through creative pursuits. #BraveFutures, one of Open Television’s core artist development programs, asks filmmakers to imagine a world where joy, care and bravery are centered. Over the course of 48 hours a diverse range of creatives descend upon their city to create a short-film that speaks to the healing power of storytelling.
Since the programs launch in 2019, Brave Futures has empowered over 100 artists, across five countries and three continents to develop 24 intersectional short-films exploring topics on gender, immigration, body-positivity, feminism, trans politics, race, sexuality, mental health and more. I invite you to explore the brave futures that reside within you and are waiting to be activated with this three-month free trial to the #OTVAPP. The future we are creating depends on your bravery.
Bravery creates space for us to develop a language around advocating for not only what we need but how we desire it to arrive in our lives. Through my own healing journey, art and artmaking has been a foundational pillar for gaining access to softness, nourishment and refuge. One of the bravest things we can do is honor our truth and create space for us to share the knowledge that we gain from overcoming challenging dynamics. As our world continues to expand and contract, artists are helping to provide the shape, texture and color for emotions we have yet to define. Artmakers have, and always will be one of the primary facilitators of a more brave future.
Nobel laureate and Gen Z activist Malala Yousafzai and other judges selected 12 leaders, innovators and activists catalyzing social impact around the world
MIAMI, Jan. 23, 2023 – The Elevate Prize Foundation announced today the winners of the third annual Elevate Prize, which will grant $6 million in unrestricted funding and supportive services across a group of diverse social entrepreneurs working to solve pressing issues around the world. For the first time, the Foundation is awarding 12 instead of 10 winners, each of whom stands out for their innovative solutions to global challenges across the issue areas of social justice, human rights, public health, inclusivity in media, prison reform, education, and climate change.
This year’s winners were selected by a panel of purpose-driven leaders in activism, business, academia, media and beyond, including Malala Yousafzai, the latest recipient of The Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, which recognizes prominent individuals who use their influence to inspire social action; Malala surprised two of this year’s Elevate Prize winners via video call to inform them they received this year’s award. Other new members of the judging panel included 20-year-old social activist and CNN Young Wonder Tiana Day and inaugural Elevate Prize winners Amanda Nguyen, a TIME 2022 Woman of the Year and founder of Rise Justice Labs, and Dixon Chibanda, founder and CEO of Friendship Bench Global.
“It was an honor to participate as an Elevate Prize judge alongside incredible leaders and activists,” said Malala Yousafzai. “This year’s Elevate Prize winners are an outstanding group of purpose-driven innovators, and I look forward to following their journey and all they will achieve.”
Founded in 2019 by Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize Foundation is on a mission to “Make Good Famous” by creating a fanbase for good and igniting a global movement for change. The Foundation will partner with these rising activists and social entrepreneurs, providing them with resources to raise visibility of their work and multiply their impact – whether in the media, online or on-the-ground. This year’s Elevate Prize winners will each be awarded with an unrestricted grant of $300,000 and supportive services valued at $200,000, which include communications strategy, branding, social media training and leadership development – all designed to help them share their stories, reach a wider audience, and grow their followings.
“We are thrilled to announce this year’s Elevate Prize winners, an inspirational group of exceptionally diverse leaders who are driving progress and collective action in an increasingly fractured world,” said CEO of The Elevate Prize Foundation Carolina García Jayaram. “From climate change to inclusivity in media, they are solving for some of the most relevant and urgent issues of our time and remain undaunted by the enormity of their challenges. By bringing them greater – and much deserved – visibility, we believe they will inspire legions of others to create positive change as well. It is a great privilege to partner with these individuals to expand their impact, and we look forward to telling their stories across wider platforms.”
This year’s Elevate Prize winners are:
- Atif Javed, Tarjimly, a mobile app that allows the world’s 3 billion multilingual speakers to remotely volunteer their language skills as translators and interpreters for the 65 million displaced people. Atif was selected as part of The Elevate Prize Foundation’s partnership with MIT Solve.
- Bianca Tylek, Worth Rises, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to dismantling the prison industry and ending the exploitation of those it impacts through extensive advocacy and systems change efforts.
- Cindy Eggleton, Brilliant Detroit, which provides families with children 0-8 with what they need to be school-ready, healthy, stable by repurposing vacant houses into vibrant community centers.
- Crystal Echo Hawk, IllumiNative, which helps build power for Native peoples by amplifying contemporary Native voices, stories, and issues to advance justice, equity, and self-determination.
- Dr. Cynthia Fast, APOPO, which saves lives by training animals, primarily African giant rats, to work alongside medical professionals to detect disease in patients, and to root out landmines in previously war-torn regions.
- Elijah McKinnon, Open Television (OTV), a platform for intersectional television, supporting artists and communities marginalized by their race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, disability, or nationality.
- Namya Mahajan, Rocket Learning, one of India’s leading nonprofits focused on catalyzing early childhood education and community engagement by distributing research- backed pedagogy focused on cognitive, numeracy, and literacy development.
- Nelly Cheboi, TechLit Africa, uses recycled computers to create technology labs in schools in rural Kenya. Nelly, 2022 CNN Hero of the Year, was selected as part of The Elevate Prize Foundation’s partnership with CNN Heroes.
- Piyush Tewari, SaveLIFE Foundation, which is committed to improving road safety and access to emergency medical care across India by combining evidence-based interventions and advocacy to shift policies on a national level.
- Rachel Silverstein, Miami Waterkeeper, which works towards a vision of swimmable, drinkable, and fishable water for all while combating climate change through public advocacy efforts and science.
- Sana Mustafa, Asylum Access, which supports forcibly displaced individuals and communities as they reclaim their rights, agency, and power through legal services and systems change policy work.
- Teresa Wanjiku Njoroge, Clean Start Solutions, which works with women and children impacted by the criminal injustice system, to restore dignity and hope, for successful reintegration through employment training, referrals, and holistic services.
This year’s Elevate Prize winners, along with the past two cohorts of winners, will gather in Miami in May 2023 for the inaugural Make Good Famous Summit. This year’s theme is “Reimagining Culture to Power Change” and will examine ways to put media, content, and creators to work to challenge inequitable systems and ignite a movement for progress.
About The Elevate Prize Foundation
Founded in 2019 by businessman and philanthropist Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize Foundation is a global non-profit that empowers social entrepreneurs and activists by providing them with the resources they need to amplify their impact. The Foundation’s signature program is its annual Elevate Prize, which is awarded to 10 or more global leaders tackling pressing issues in innovative ways. The Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, another one of the Foundation’s programs, recognizes prominent individuals for their commitment to inspiring global social action and using their influence for the good of humanity. In 2022, the Foundation launched The Elevate GET LOUD Award, a monthly grant to fuel grassroots movements and organizers on the frontlines committed to collective action and building power among communities. For more information, visit www.elevateprize.org and follow @ElevatePrize on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Amongst my many blessings, every year I get to welcome a new group of remarkable social entrepreneurs – heroes in the truest sense – into our community. It’s an incredible moment and a singular honor.
Our winners and their organizations are truly a global cohort. From Kenya to India to the United States, they’re working around the world for justice, health, education, equity, and to protect our planet. They’re all deeply immersed in the issues and communities they champion, bringing lived experience to bear on the issues that they face, and an insider perspective that helps them get to the heart of the challenge.
To say that they are amazing only begins to describe their passion and their potential. What sets them apart is their innovative spirit and unique approaches to problem-solving. I am, and you will be, astounded at what they are up to! Using technology, creativity, and old-fashioned grit, they are breaking down barriers and raising the bar across the board: from building power for native peoples and reforming the criminal justice system, to advocating for children, protecting public health, making media inclusive, supporting asylum seekers, and cleaning waterways. One of our winners is even training rats to sniff out land mines and detect tuberculosis. They are – in a word – remarkable.
I’m continuously astonished by our winners’ capacity to turn their passions into life-affirming and life-changing actions. In fact, we were so wowed by our finalists this year, that we ultimately made the choice to invest in 12 winners instead of the intended 10. They are each so deserving and completely awe-inspiring.
And while it may seem that we’re helping them, in reality, we’re the ones who are being helped, and significantly so. To know their work and to know their stories nourishes us in the most profound ways, and that is what we, at the Elevate Prize Foundation, want to share with you! Each and every one of them is changing the world for the better today and has the potential to drive even more progress on a massive scale in the future. They show us what we are capable of, both individually and as a society. They are the rockstars of social impact that you may not have heard of – yet.
I hope you’ll join us in following the journeys of these extraordinary visionaries and, in doing so, be all the more inspired to live in your purpose as they are. If you find their work and their stories half as compelling as I do, you will be forever changed, as I have been.
Please join me in welcoming and celebrating the newest Winners of The Elevate Prize!