2009 Press Release

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CONTACT: Cynthia Wong | 212-213-6443
cwong [at] unionsquareawards.org


Community leaders to be honored at upcoming ceremony

NEW YORK, NY – The Union Square Awards has granted more than $15 million to New York City organizations. This year, ten organizations will be honored at the Union Square Awards celebration on Friday, December 4th. Five organizations will receive the prestigious Union Square Award and $50,000 each for exceptional efforts addressing critical social and economic issues facing New Yorkers; another five will receive the Union Square Arts Award, and each will receive a $35,000 grant in recognition of innovative work with youth and families in low-income communities. “With minimal resources, these organizations make extraordinary contributions to local neighborhoods, and their work is vital to New York City. Given the current economic situation, the Award represents an important support to sustain these emerging organizations,” says Executive Director, Iris Morales.

Named after the park on 14th Street where New Yorkers have organized and spoken out about major social issues since the nineteenth century, the Union Square Awards was created to recognize and encourage initiative in serving New York City communities. The Awards realize an anonymous donor’s dream of honoring New Yorkers who take action to improve people’s lives and advocate for social change.

This year’s Awardees receive a total of $425,000 and join 203 organizations that have received the Award since its founding in 1998. Awardees will be recognized at a special ceremony at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan.


Brandworkers International organizes employees in the retail and food industry to improve working conditions and provides workers with social change tools needed to increase employer compliance with the law. Brandworkers seeks to ensure that workers' rights are protected and expanded.

Cidadão Global (CG) is the first Brazilian community-based organization in New York City. Located in Long Island City, CG works with Brazilian immigrants and the larger immigrant community to advance human rights.

Garifuna Coalition USA serves as a resource, forum, advocate and united voice for the Garifuna immigrant community. Its Advocacy Center in the heart of the South Bronx provides information, education, cultural opportunities, and social services referrals.

RightRides for Women's Safety is dedicated to creating safer communities by eliminating gender-based violence through direct services, safety advocacy and educational outreach. Its core program offers women, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming individuals free, late night rides home through high-risk areas.

Washington Heights CORNER Project (WHCP) aims to eliminate high-risk practices of the drug using community in Washington Heights by providing culturally competent and linguistically appropriate services to anyone who wishes to learn about harm reduction or utilize assistance. WHCP strives to reduce the transmission of disease and infections.


Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) believes that the power of imagination is central to the practice of democracy and that the work of governing must engage the dreams and visions of citizens. Its pioneering model brings together a diverse cross section of New Yorkers to engage in rich discussions about social equality and urban living.

Century Dance Complex (CDC) provides a safe haven for African refugees and low-income children on Staten Island by offering beginner, intermediate and advanced classes in ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, African dance and drumming as well as educational support in afterschool and summer programs.

Diversity in Arts and Nations for Cultural Education (DANCE) is dedicated to presenting and preserving the rich folkloric art of Puerto Rican and Latin American theatrical dance. Through educational programs and dance-based programming that uses live music and theatre, it educates audiences about Puerto Rican traditions and history.

The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) cultivates, supports and promotes the work of artists and arts organizations in the Washington Heights-Inwood neighborhoods. NoMAA provides education, advocacy, financial and technical support and connects the Upper Manhattan arts community to the cultural life of New York City.

Opening Act aims to provide New York City public school students a space where they can participate in performing arts and develop leadership through artistic achievement. The organization offers free programs to schools with graduation rates below 50% that have no theatre programming.


The Union Square Awards is a project of the Tides Center whose mission is to actively promote change toward a healthy society – one founded on principles of social justice, equal economic opportunity, a robust democratic process, and environmental sustainability.


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