March 30, 2017
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The Atlantic and Allstate reveal Renewal Awards winners

5 nonprofits recognized with $20,000 grants to continue their community work

Dave Prendergast, President, Eastern Territory for Allstate, left, and Ron Brownstein, Senior Editor with The Atlantic, congratulate this year’s Renewal Awards winners: Kate Barnhart of New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth, Tara Libert of Free Minds Book Club, Chelina Odbert of Kounkuey Design Initiative, LaVonte Stewart of Lost Boyz Inc., and Sister Tesa Fitzgerald of Hour Children. Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar

After hundreds of nominations and several months of judging, The Atlantic and Allstate honored the five winners of this year’s Renewal Awards.

The winners were selected by public vote and a panel of judges that included editors from The Atlantic, past Renewal Award winners, former public officials, and nonprofit leaders. Allstate selected the Youth Empowerment award winner.

The award recognizes nonprofits that creatively solve the challenges in their communities. The five winners in their categories are:

  • Neighborhood Revitalization: Kounkuey Design Initiative, of Los Angeles, is a design and community development organization that supports underserved communities in the U.S., Africa, and Latin America. “Through engaging with residents and learning about the deep knowledge they had … and the nuanced solutions they had already considered, I was inspired to help them reach their goals,” said Executive Director Chelina Odbert.
  • Self-Starter: Lost Boyz, Inc., is a Chicago organization that provides mentoring, tutoring, and leadership training through sports. Founder LaVonte Stewart is teaching young people the skills to cope and succeed in a neighborhood plagued by violence. “I love the people who sacrifice every day to make [our community] a better place to live,” he said.

  • Community Action: New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth gives refuge to LGBT youth in New York City and empowers them to thrive in their neighborhoods. Founder and Executive Director Kate Barnhart’s passion for her work stems from her personal experience. “I was an LGBT youth during the crisis years of the AIDS epidemic and I saw members of our community dying around me and so I got involved,” she said.

  • Ingenuity: Free Minds Book Club, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, helps the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated develop literacy skills through book clubs and writing workshops. Julia Mascioli, who is the director of development and communications and writer herself, is committed to the idea of using books and creative writing as tools to bring about personal and societal change. “We are striving to nurture and elevate the voices of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system,” she said.

  • Allstate Youth Empowerment Award: Hour Children, of Long Island City, N.Y.,
    is a support system for formerly and currently incarcerated women and their children. Executive Director Sister Tesa Fitzgerald fights to dispel the stigma surrounding incarceration: “The women at Hour Children are dedicated mothers, good citizens, and worthy of our respect and compassion.”

Each winner will receive a $20,000 grant from Allstate Insurance Company to continue their positive work in their community.

The winners were recognized today at an event presented by AtlanticLIVE in Washington, D.C.

The Renewal Awards initiative, brought to you by The Atlantic and Allstate, is related to The Renewal Project, The Atlantic’s broader partnership with Allstate that spotlights local innovation.

Nominations for next year’s awards aren’t open yet, but sign up for The Renewal Project’s newsletter to be one of the first to know! Then, when nominations open, nominate your favorite nonprofit.

Read more about The Renewal Awards here.

Margaret Myers

Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.