The Union Square Awards, a project of the Tides Center, has announced cash prizes totaling $545,000 to thirteen grassroots organizations in New York City working to strengthen low-income communities in the city's five boroughs.
Six organizations will receive grants of $50,000 for their efforts to address critical social and economic issues facing New Yorkers. They include the Alianza Ecuatoriana Internacional/International Ecuadorian Alliance, which works to strengthen Ecuadorian identity and motivate the Latin American immigrant community; Common Law, which partners attorneys with grassroots organizations to provide free legal services that strengthen community organizing and social justice campaigns; and the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE), which mobilizes teachers, develops curriculum, and works with community, parent, and student organizations to promote social justice in the school system and society at large.
In addition, seven organizations will receive Union Square Arts Awards, which come with a $35,000 grant, in recognition of their innovative work with youth and families in low-income communities. Recipients include the Haiti Cultural Exchange, which works to promote cultural expressions of the Haitian people, raise awareness of social issues, and foster cultural understanding and appreciation through arts, education, and public affairs; the Maysles Institute, which integrates documentary film screenings and community educational programs that emphasize stories and issues not presented in mainstream media; and Purelements, a performing arts organization that fuses multiple dance forms with voice, spoken word, and musical theater to educate audiences about social issues and bridge the "gaps between diverse communities."
Since the program's inception in 1998, over $16 million has been awarded to more than two hundred organizations. This year's recipients will be honored at a ceremony in New York City on December 3.
"Union Square Award recipients make extraordinary contributions to the city in spite of their limited financial resources," said Union Square Awards executive director Iris Morales. "They emerge at the grassroots to tackle our most pressing problems from homelessness and hunger to HIV/AIDS, and their work strengthens low-income families and neighborhoods....[The] Award supports these efforts by covering operating expenses, seeding new programs, expanding existing services and leveraging additional funding."