2008 Press Release

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CONTACT: Cynthia Wong | (212) 213-6443

Community leaders to be honored at upcoming Union Square Awards ceremony
December 2008

Seventeen New York City organizations will be honored at the annual Union Square Awards celebration on Saturday, December 6th. Seven will receive the prestigious Union Square Award and a $50,000 grant for exceptional efforts addressing the critical social and economic issues facing New Yorkers. Ten will receive the Union Square Arts Award and a $35,000 grant in recognition of innovative work in the arts with youth and families in low-income communities. “With minimal resources, these organizations are making extraordinary contributions to local neighborhoods. Given the current economic situation, their work is vital to New York City,” 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 program 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 have taken action to improve people’s lives and advocate for social change. Since its inception, the Union Square Awards has granted more than $13 million to organizations that have not received either substantial funding or public accolade.

This year’s awardees work with diverse populations across the City including young people, new immigrant communities, the formerly incarcerated, and the disabled. They join 186 organizations that have previously received the Award since its founding in 1998. Awardees will be recognized at a special ceremony at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan.

Recipients of the Union Square Award

Adhikaar is a women-led organization that provides advocacy and social services to the Nepalese community in Queens.

The College and Community Fellowship provides educational and other re-entry programs that primarily serve formerly incarcerated women.

The Disabilities Network of New York City creates coalitions to build community, shape policy and expand opportunity for New Yorkers with physical, visual and hearing disabilities.

The New York State Youth Leadership Council is a network of young advocates committed to the advancement of immigrant youth through leadership development and advocacy.

Rights for Imprisoned People With Psychiatric Disabilities is a grassroots, direct action organization working for the rights of prisoners and former prisoners with mental illness.

Vamos Unidos is a Bronx-based organization founded by low-wage Latino/a immigrant workers, primarily street vendors who organize for social and economic justice.

Youth Represent provides comprehensive, quality criminal and civil legal representation and social services to youth under 24 years old.

Recipients of the Arts Award

Cool Culture offers programs that provide low-income families access to New York’s arts, cultural and scientific institutions.

Freedom Train Productions promotes new political theatre that features Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (LGBT) characters written by up-and-coming Black LGBT playwrights.

Girls Write Now is a creative writing organization that offers girls from New York City public schools a safe environment that fosters their creativity and independent voices.

The Laundromat Project uses the space of local coin-ops to provide communities of color living on modest incomes access to visual arts as a tool for personal and social transformation.

Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture without Borders celebrates Mexican culture in the United States and promotes understanding of Mexican traditions among immigrants, artists, educators and the public.

The Multicultural Music Group offers performance, instruction and professional development in multicultural music to promote global understanding, cultural awareness, and academic achievement.

Renaissance E.M.S. provides young people in the Bronx with music instruction, vocal training and other programs that maximize their potential and encourage community participation.

T.W.W./Talks with Wolves provides children and youth with programs in writing, visual and performance arts that integrate African and Native American cultures.

Urban Word works to ensure that New York City youth have a safe, supportive, dynamic and challenging community in which to discover and use their voices through written and spoken word.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls (Rock Camp) is dedicated to using music to promote self-expression and self-esteem while building bridges of communication to combat racism and stereotypes.

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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