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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

South By Southwest Announces Community Service Award Honorees For 2018

Press Release – Austin, Texas – September 26, 2017 – South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Conference and Festivals (March 9-18, 2018) is proud to announce the Community Service Award honorees for 2018. These awards highlight hardworking individuals and organizations serving their communities in Austin and beyond, and celebrate the life and work of SXSW Interactive co-founder Dewey Winburne.

“The SXSW Community Service Awards help us honor individuals and organizations whose good works are helping to improve many many lives across the United States and around the world. These Community Grant honorees inspire us all to do more to help those around us — and inspiration to create a better world is a driving force of the overall SXSW mission,” said Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer.

Six individuals and six organizations will receive more than $50,000 in grants as well as complimentary badges to SXSW to help further their goals. When selecting these honorees, SXSW looked for uniqueness, level of impact, clarity of mission, and relationship to Austin and the SXSW community.

“I am astounded by the passion and heart that these individuals and organizations bring to their work. I’m humbled to host them at SXSW in March and can’t wait to showcase the talents that they bring to community service,” said Tammy Lynn Gilmore, Senior Conference Programmer and Non-Profit Grant Specialist.

Grant recipients will be honored in a ceremony on March 12, 2018, during SXSW. The free and open to the public ceremony does not require a SXSW badge to attend.

Read below for more information about the 12 honorees. Full bios of the Community Service Award recipients can be found here.

Individual Recipients

Chris Diaz – (Action Tank) Chris helped form the Action Tank in 2016 with a group of post 9/11 veterans with a mission to solve tough problems aimed at improving the social conditions of their community by harnessing the experiences, skills and relationships of service-minded citizens. The Action Tank has spent the past year working to combat the opioid epidemic by introducing policy and legislation that will reduce opioid related overdoses and save lives.

Catalina Escobar – (MAKAIA) Catalina co-founded MAKAIA and has led it since its inception 11 years ago, transforming an idea into an organization that has served hundreds of nonprofits and social projects in Latin America. MAKAIA is a not-for-profit organization that promotes capacities for social development through cooperation, technology and innovation. MAKAIA’s work is implemented based on two pillars, technology for social change and international cooperation and partnerships. MAKAIA has reached more than 25,000 people and 3,600 organizations abroad.

Char Hu – (The Helper Bees) Char Hu has dedicated his career to one goal: improving the lives of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Dr. Hu founded and is CEO of The Helper Bees, a technology company in Austin which provides intelligent in-home caregiver-to-senior matching. The Helper Bees allows seniors with early dementia to extend the time they can live at home, an affordable and life-affirming choice.

James Jack – (human-I-T) James is a social entrepreneur with the keen ability to see how innovations in technology can come together to create social impact. James co-founded human-I-T as a platform for putting donated technology into the hands of low-income households. Since human-I-T’s inception in 2012, it has grown from a two-man operation to a national organization with multiple locations.

Linda Novick O’Keefe – (Common Threads) Linda’s experience and desire to develop innovative solutions to social problems, combined with her passion for food, led her to start Common Threads with chef Art Smith and artist Jesus Salgueiro in May 2003. Under her leadership, Common Threads has grown from the basement of a Chicago Hyde Park church to providing in-school, after-school, teacher, social service training and family programming to more than 750 schools and community partner sites in nine major US cities and will expand throughout Texas this year as a SNAP-Ed Program Provider.

Celeste C. Smith – (1Hood Media) Celeste C. Smith is the Chief Curator of Cultural and Strategic Initiatives for 1Hood Media, a collective of conscious Hip Hop artists and activists who utilize Hip Hop as a means of raising awareness around issues affecting oppressed people around the world. Celeste is also a founding member of the Nefertiti Alliance, an organization dedicated to raising awareness around the importance of self care and protecting the cultural capital of Black women in the arts, and serves as the organization’s chair.

Organization Recipients

Allies Against Slavery – Allies Against Slavery works to build Slave­ Free Cities, places where traffickers cannot exploit the vulnerable and where survivors have access to all they need to heal. Slave ­Free Cities are built by empowering survivors, connecting partners and building tools that help professionals overcome human trafficking together. Allies is working to solve the problem of victim identification by developing a screening tool that helps frontline agencies rapidly and effectively identify sex trafficking victims.

Creative Action – Creative Action is a nonprofit, arts-based, youth development organization that provides dynamic and engaging creative learning programs in the classroom, in after-school settings, and in the community. Their Youth Cinema Collective is a program that provides a space for teens who are passionate about filmmaking and film’s ability to share stories that may otherwise go untold. Teens produce original films that speak to their communities, tell new stories, and address social issues they care about.

Gamers Outreach – Gamers Outreach is a 501(c)(3) charity organization that provides equipment, technology, and software to help kids cope with treatment inside hospitals. Their organization aims to inspire and heal patients through the power of interactive play. Gamers Outreach primary initiative is Project GO Kart, GO Karts are portable, medical-grade video game kiosks which enable nurses to easily provide bedside activities to children unable to leave their rooms in hospitals.

Jeremiah Program – Jeremiah Program’s mission is to transform families from poverty to prosperity. Researchers have determined that two-generation models like Jeremiah Program achieve significant educational, health, and economic benefits for both children and their parents. This is achieved through career-track college education for parents, high quality early childhood education for children, as well as safe and affordable housing.

Kids In A New Groove (KING) – Kids In A New Groove (KING) provides Texas youth in foster care with a committed one-on-one mentoring relationship through weekly, private music instruction, giving students the ability to build concrete strategies for life-long success. Music Mentors travel to students’ homes and KING provides each student with an instrument, lesson materials, and a reward system – to help create a sense of achievement and confidence.

Urban Roots – Urban Roots’ mission is to use food and farming to transform the lives of young people and inspire, engage, and nourish the community. For the past 10 years, they’ve provided paid internships to young people on their 3.5 acre farm in East Austin. This grant will support opportunities for 45 youth as they spend five months learning to grow food while serving the community and growing as leaders. Together they grow more than 25,000 pounds of fresh food each year, 40 percent of which is donated to those in need through hunger relief partners.

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. The event, an essential destination for global professionals, features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together. SXSW 2018 will take place March 9-18, 2018.

SXSW 2018 is sponsored by Capital One and The Austin Chronicle.

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