July 16, 2020

Meet the winners of the 2020 Renewal Awards

The Atlantic and Allstate honor five nonprofits with $200,000 in funding so they can continue transforming their communities.

Seventeen-year-old Christina was finishing her junior year at Waltham High School and working in a local bookstore in suburban Boston when her state issued a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the only working person in her family, Christina was overwhelmed with worries too heavy for any high schooler to carry on her own.

“I felt completely lost,” she wrote in an essay for The Renewal Project. “All of a sudden everything shifted in a way I wasn’t prepared for.”

None of us were prepared for the intensity that followed as COVID-19 raged across the U.S. For Christina and her coworkers at More Than Words in Waltham, Massachusetts, they found the support they needed in each other and their mentors at the nonprofit bookstore.

At a time when the country is facing uncertainty in the face of a global health crisis and social unrest, local organizations like More Than Words are providing vital resources for their community, which is one reason it has been named as one of the five winners of the 2020 Renewal Awards.

The annual program from The Atlantic and Allstate honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities. The five winning organizations, selected from 13,000 nominations, each will receive a $40,000 prize from The Atlantic and Allstate.

This year’s winners reflect some of the most creative and innovative ways local communities are solving problems in their own neighborhoods, from empowering young people like Christina with job training in Boston to finding permanent solutions to homelessness in Seattle.

The 2020 winners are:

  • Choose 180 (Burien, Washington): Engages with youth in the criminal justice system to offer guidance and mentorship and helps them make positive changes in their lives. Choose 180 is this year’s Allstate Youth Empowerment Award Winner.
  • College to Congress (Washington, D.C.): Levels the playing field and fosters bipartisanship for Congressional interns, providing an opportunity for high-achieving students who otherwise would not be able to accept such an internship.
  • Facing Homelessness (Seattle): The BLOCK Project builds 125-square-foot accessory dwelling units for homeless neighbors in willing homeowners’ backyards.
  • Hello Neighbor (Pittsburgh): Supports recently resettled refugees with mentorship, educational training, and community events.
  • More than Words (Waltham, Massachusetts): Provides on-the-job training and business skills for at-risk youth in the Boston Area. They learn valuable life skills by helping to run a real book business.

Earlier this year, 15 finalists were selected by The Atlantic’s editors and writers. Winners were evaluated by a panel of judges who include former Mayors Rahm Emanuel (Chicago) and Karen Freeman-Wilson (Gary, Indiana); Anne Marie Burgoyne, managing director of social innovation at Emerson Collective; Kate Nack, director of The Allstate Foundation; former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Florida); and two past Renewal Award winners, Juedy Mom, director of The Compton Initiative, and Pamela Urquieta, CEO and Executive director of Let’s Innovate Through Education. Allstate selected the Youth Empowerment Award winner.

Started in 2015, The Renewal Awards spotlight grassroots solutions to challenges faced by communities around the country and the people making a positive difference. The awards are the flagship initiative of The Renewal Project, The Atlantic and Allstate’s broader partnership that covers innovation and celebrates change-makers in local communities. With this year’s award, 31 organizations have received more than $800,000 in funding from The Atlantic and Allstate to further their work.

Read more about the winning organizations from The Atlantic.

For updates on The Renewal Awards and former winners, sign up for our newsletter, Renewal 365.

The Renewal Project

The Renewal Project, made possible by Allstate, tells the stories of individuals and organizations who are solving problems in their communities.
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