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OSI Announces 2003 Winners of NYC Community Fellowships
11 Activists selected from the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan
November 14, 2003
Contact: Amy Weil
NEW YORK - The Open Society Institute U.S. Programs, part of the Soros foundations network, today announced the 11 New York City organizers, activists and leaders selected to receive an 18-month stipend of $48,750 to support innovative public interest projects that address critical social needs in low-income communities.
OSI’s New York City Community Fellowship Program supports a new generation of social justice activists and provides them the opportunity to initiate community-led projects that empower neighborhoods and improve the quality of public life. Community Fellows lead local social change efforts that address economic justice, civic participation, workers’ rights, health, education and the arts.
Over the past five years, OSI has invested over four million dollars to support the work of individuals working in marginalized NYC communities. A similar program established in 1998 exists in Baltimore and is run out of the OSI-Baltimore office. Together, the NYC and Baltimore offices of OSI have supported over seventy social entrepreneurs. OSI Baltimore recently awarded ten fellowships to local residents with nearly $500,000 in grants. OSI Fellows have received numerous awards in recognition of their efforts to transform communities and provide needed services.
For more information or applications for the 2003 NYC Community Fellowships Program, please visit www.soros.org. Please contact Amy Weil, 212-548-0381, to arrange interviews with the fellows.
2003 OSI NYC Community Fellows (listed in alphabetical order):
Kat Aaron (Manhattan) will create Resources for Youth Seeking Economic Justice (RYSE for Justice), an economic justice project to organize young activists to advocate for fair and just policies that disproportionately effect low-income communities.
Flor Bermudez (Queens and East Harlem) will develop Esperanza del Barrio Project to provide direct legal counsel, organizing, and advocacy for local immigrant Mexican/Latina immigrant street vendors, and their families, in El Barrio.
Toni Blackman (Harlem) will establish the Artist Development Institute (ADI), to provide opportunities for emerging female hip-hop artists to foster progressive community action and participation within their art.
John Choe (Queens) will create the Stepping Stone, a new project to organize local Korean immigrants and community members to establish a community-based organization to promote social justice and human rights campaigns and initiatives.
Dahlia Eissa (Brooklyn and Queens) will create the Arab American Justice Project (AAJP) to provide legal services for Arab Americans to address the eroding threats of civil liberties within communities.
Bernadette Ellorin (Brooklyn and Queens) will create the Media 4 Truth & Justice Project, which will document through video the unseen civil and immigration backlash against Filipinos living and working in post 9-11 America.
Deepa Fernandes (Manhattan) will create Radio Rootz, a media advocacy project for young people in marginalized areas of New York City dedicated to promoting media literacy, debating challenging social issues, and gaining media access for youth in public schools.
Omar Freilla (South Bronx) will develop the Green Worker Cooperation, which will develop and sustain worker-owned and democratically operated manufacturing businesses in the South Bronx that create eco-friendly products using eco-friendly methods.
Ana Melendez (Brooklyn) will coordinate The Step Up campaign, which will advocate and organize for just options for low-income women receiving public assistance to exit poverty by gaining access to educational opportunities that they are routinely denied through persistent low wage jobs and welfare to work placements.
Mark Winston-Griffith (Brooklyn) will run Talking Democracy Media, a television series he helped to create designed to stimulate public debate around pressing social issues, while providing a platform for voices traditionally excluded from the corporate media. The show will run on Free Speech TV, a full-time national channel available on Dish satellite network.
Helena Wong (Manhattan) will establish the Chinatown Defense Project, a new organization led by low-income tenants to stand against community-wide displacement; and work in partnership with policy and legal groups to develop and win lasting policy changes that will protect low-income tenants from displacement.
The Open Society Institute, a private operating and grantmaking foundation, is part of the network of foundations, created and funded by George Soros, active in more than 50 countries around the world.
OSI's U.S. Programs seek to strengthen democracy in the United States by addressing barriers to opportunity and justice, broadening public discussion about such barriers, and assisting marginalized groups to participate equally in civil society and to make their voices heard. OSI U.S. Programs challenges over-reliance on the market by advocating appropriate government responsibility for human needs and promoting public interest and service values. OSI U.S. Programs supports initiatives in a range of areas including access to justice for low and moderate income people; judicial independence; ending the death penalty; reducing gun violence and over-reliance on incarceration; drug policy reform; inner-city education and youth programs; fair treatment of immigrants; reproductive health and choice; campaign finance reform; and improved care of the dying.
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