South by Southwest has announced the recipients of its 2018 Community Service Awards, naming six people and six non-profits that will be awarded badges to SXSW as well as grants that total $50,000.
The Awards are an evolution of what used to be called the Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards, named after the co-founder of what would become SXSW Interactive. For 2017, the awards were renamed, and for 2018, the grants are being split into the individual awards honoring Winburne and the awards for organizations.
On the individual list, two Austinnites won grants: Char Hu, the founder and CEO of The Helper Bees, and Linda Novick O’Keefe, founding CEO of Common Threads. Of the six non-profits, four are Austin-based: Allies Against Slavery, Creative Action, Kids in a New Groove and Urban Roots.
The awards will be given out on March 12 during SXSW in a ceremony that, as has been tradition, will be free and open to the public.
Here’s the full list of award winners with descriptions from SXSW:
Chris Diaz (Philadelphia): Diaz helped form the Action Tank in 2016 with a group of post 9/11 Veterans with a mission to solve tough problems aimed at improving the social conditions of their community by harnessing the experiences, skills and relationships of service-minded citizens. The Action Tank has spent the past year working to combat the opioid epidemic by introducing policy and legislation that will reduce the opioid related overdoses and save lives.
Catalina Escobar (Medellin, Colombia): Escobar co-founded MAKAIA and has led it since its inception 11 years ago, transforming an idea into an organization that has served hundreds of non-profits and social projects in Latin America. MAKAIA is a not-for-profit organization that promotes capacities for social development through cooperation, technology and innovation. In 2013 MAKAIA developed www.nodoka.co, a data and information driven initiative to promote resource mobilization, knowledge sharing and effectiveness in social sector. MAKAIA has reached more than 25,000 people and 3,600 organizations in Colombia and abroad.
Char Hu (Austin): With a PhD in molecular biophysics from Baylor College of Medicine, Hu founded and is CEO of The Helper Bees, a technology company in Austin which provides intelligent in-home caregiver-to-senior matching. Thanks to The Helper Bees, seniors with early dementia can extend the time they can live at home, an affordable and life-affirming choice. He recently helped to organize and host an Innovation Summit on Aging at Dell Medical School to help raise awareness around the need for technological development for age-related issues and speaks at events such as SXSW and LeadingAge.
James Jack (Los Angeles): Jack co-founded the nonprofit human-I-T as a platform to divert electronic waste (e-waste) from landfills into the hands of someone that can use it. He built a system to collect unwanted technology from businesses, refurbish the devices, and redistribute the technology back to underserved households. This model reduces the staggering number of e-waste produced annually. Best of all, it empowers underserved communities with the tools for self-sufficiency. His work has helped 4,000 individuals get connected since 2012.
Linda Novick O’Keefe (Austin, TX): O’Keefe is the founding CEO of Common Threads. Her experience, desire to develop innovative solutions to social problems, combined with her passion for food, led her to start Common Threads with chef Art Smith and artist Jesus Salgueiro in May 2003. Under her leadership, Common Threads has grown from the basement of a Chicago Hyde Park church to providing in-school, after-school, teacher, social service training and family programming to more than 750 schools and community partner sites in nine major U.S. cities and will expand throughout Texas this year as a SNAP-Ed Program Provider.
Celeste C. Smith (Pittsburgh): Smith is the chief executive officer for 1Hood Media, a collective of conscious Hip Hop artists and activists who utilize Hip Hop as a means of raising awareness around issues affecting oppressed people around the world. She is an Association of Performing Arts Presenter fellow and recently served as an Artist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute – Chicago. Additionally, she was named a Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards nominee for her multi-disciplined artistry, is a published author and a Walker’s Legacy Power 50 honoree.
Allies Against Slavery works to build Slave Free Cities: places where traffickers cannot exploit the vulnerable and where survivors have access to all they need to heal. We build Slave Free Cities by empowering survivors, connecting partners and building tools that help professionals overcome human trafficking together. Allies is working to solve the problem of victim identification by developing a screening tool that helps frontline agencies rapidly & effectively identify sex trafficking victims. The online tool, called the Tier 1 Screener, also helps users see, understand, and report the data they collect in order to improve the delivery of services to victims.
Creative Action is a nonprofit, arts-based, youth development organization that provides dynamic and engaging creative learning programs in the classroom, in after school settings, and in the community. Their mission is to spark and support the academic, social, and emotional development of young people. When youth develop their creativity, compassion, confidence and critical thinking skills, and build meaningful connections with peers and positive role models, they become successful adults who contribute to their communities and thrive in their careers and relationships. Delivered in partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse, Youth Cinema Collective is a Creative Action Teen Program that provides a space for teens who are passionate about filmmaking and film’s ability to share stories that may otherwise go untold.
Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides equipment, technology, and software to help kids cope with treatment inside hospitals. The organization aims to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play. One of the organization’s primary initiatives is called “Project GO Kart.” GO Karts (Gamers Outreach Karts) are portable, medical-grade video game kiosks which enable nurses to easily provide bedside activities to children unable to leave their rooms in hospitals. Each GO Kart is equipped with a gaming console, monitor, and assortment of games. The carts provide a safe, flexible, and efficient way to ensure kids have access to entertainment and coping mechanisms during long-term hospitalization.
Jeremiah Program’s mission is to transform families from poverty to prosperity. Jeremiah’s holistic program model provides five two-generational services, all supported by individualized coaching: 1) support for career-track college education: each mom must be enrolled in a two or four year college program at the time of admission; 2) empowerment and life skills classes: before entering the program, all moms complete a 12-week empowerment course, which introduces tools for self-reliance. While in residence, they attend weekly life skills classes covering career exploration, financial planning, positive parenting and health and wellness; 3) high quality early childhood education: to establish a strong foundation for life-long educational achievement for children ages birth to 5 years, Jeremiah Program offers high quality early childhood education in our Child Development Center; 4 )safe and affordable housing: Jeremiah families live in furnished apartments in our new facility or in duplexes next to the campus. Participants pay only 30 percent of their income for rent; and 5) a supportive community: camaraderie develops among families in the empowerment classes and grows as they move through the program together.
Kids In A New Groove (KING) provides Texas youth in foster care with a committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through weekly, private music instruction, giving students the ability to build concrete strategies for life-long success. By creating a consistent and nurturing environment, we empower youth in foster care to transform their future through music mentorship. Music Mentors travel to students’ homes, following students to each new placement, creating consistency in otherwise unstable lives. KING provides each student with an instrument, lesson materials, and a reward system – to help create a sense of achievement and confidence. A student’s mentor often becomes the one stable adult they can count on, with a strong bond that follows them throughout their time in foster care. For the past three years, 100percent of KING’s eligible seniors have graduated from high school, with 95 percent of those students going on to attend college, technical school or enlist in the military.
Urban Roots’ mission is to use food and farming to transform the lives of young people and inspire, engage, and nourish the community. For the past 10 years, they’ve provided paid internships to young people on their 3.5 acre farm in East Austin. Together they grow more than 25,000 pounds of fresh food each year, 40 percent of which is donated to those in need through hunger relief partners. This grant will support the Farm Internship Program, which will provide opportunities for 45 youth to spend five months learning to grow food while serving the community and growing as leaders.
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