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The Tzedek Brilliance Awards are a one-time no-strings-attached grant of $50,000 given to leaders who have consistently shown up to dismantle systemic oppression in the Asheville, North Carolina region.
The Tzedek Brilliance Awards honor Asheville’s leaders who are engaged in impactful, intersectional efforts to further racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and/or to dismantle antisemitism. As opposed to the majority of Tzedek’s grantmaking that funds organizational work, Brilliance Awards are designed to cultivate the well-being of individual brilliant community leaders by investing in their spaciousness, autonomy, and wisdom.
Tzedek grants two Brilliance Awards per year:
- The Ella Baker Brilliance Award – This award is offered In honor of the civil rights legend, community organizer and strategist, Ella Baker, who co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960. The Ella Baker Brilliance Award will be given to a Black community leader in Asheville who has empowered and organized others to address systemic oppression in our area and has lived in our area for at least 5 years.
- The Pauli Murray Brilliance Award – This award is offered in honor of Pauli Murray, a brilliant Black legal scholar, priest and activist, who fully embodied the concept of intersectional activism. Their legal work was the inspiration for Thurgood Marshall’s victory in Brown vs Board of Education and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s victory in securing employment rights for women. The Pauli Murray Brilliance Award will be given to a community leader who has lived in the Asheville area for at least 5 years and who, like Pauli Murray, has been involved in a wide variety of social justice efforts and who understands that all struggles for liberation are connected.
Nominate yourself or someone you know using the link below. All nominees must be a full-time resident of the Asheville area (living within 30 miles of The Asheville City Building) for at least 5 years and must not hold an elected office or advanced government position. We especially encourage nominations from people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and Jewish individuals.
All applicants from the prior Brilliance Awards are automatically considered and do not require a new nomination. Given our limited staff capacity, we will not be able to respond individually to each nomination.
Examples of Past Achievements Eligible for the Brilliance Awards
Tzedek believes that wide-ranging community efforts–from artistic interventions to grassroots organizing to nonprofit/governmental/private collaborations–are impactful and deserving of recognition. While these no-strings attached grants do not fund specific activities, the examples below illustrate the types of past achievements Tzedek seeks to recognize through Brilliance Award nominations.
Example 1 – A nominee has spent the past decade providing spiritual support to social justice leaders as a prayer warrior, Santeria practitioner or other form of healing practice. Community leaders often go to them to heal from the trauma of social justice work and they are widely recognized as a resource.
Example 2 – A nominee is an artist whose work brings attention to racial justice, LGBTQ justice movements and/or efforts to dismantle antisemitism.
Example 3 – A nominee provides strategic leadership to racial justice, LGBTQ justice movements and/or efforts to dismantle antisemitism. They may not be on the frontlines of the work, but they provide crucial advice about long-term strategy.
HOW AWARDEES ARE SELECTED
STEP 1: Potential awardees can nominate themselves or be nominated by others using the form below. Nominations will be accepted until 5pm on June 1st. All applicants from the prior Brilliance Awards are automatically considered and do not require a new nomination. Given our limited staff capacity, we will not be able to respond individually to each nomination.
STEP 2: The Brilliance Awards Review Selection Committee reviews all nominations and ranks nominees using the rubric linked here. Tzedek staff may reach out to nominees for additional information, if needed.
TZEDEK BRILLIANCE AWARDS SELECTION RUBRIC
|Exemplary Alignment |
|Developing Alignment |
|Focal Area Impact |
(What impact has this person had in Asheville with regards to racial justice, LGBTQ justice, and/or dismantling antisemitism?)
|Asheville is fundamentally a more just place because of the impact of this person, through the creation of innovative programs, effective community partnerships, and/or creative ventures. They are in the process of transforming this community for people of color, LGBTQ Ashevillians, and/or Jewish communities. They are widely supported as a mover and a shaker by communities impacted by the problems they are working to solve.||Asheville has been significantly influenced by the efforts of this person’s work in the community with local organizations and/or community-based projects. Their efforts center people of color, LGBTQ communities, and/or Jewish people. They lead efforts that aim to shift power in Asheville.||Asheville has been positively influenced by the efforts of this person’s work in the community. The result of their efforts has a demonstrated impact on the lives of people of color, LGBTQ people, and/or Jewish communities.|
(How does this individual’s work in the community address multiple oppressions simultaneously?)
|Their work embodies an intersectional perspective. They engage with more than one of Tzedek’s focal areas alongside additional forms of oppression (ableism,classism, xenophobia,etc.).||Their work reflects an intersectional perspective. While they are focused on dismantling one form of systemic oppression within Tzedek’s focal areas, they are attentive to wide-ranging experiences and the impact of multiple oppressions on people’s lives.||Their work focuses on dismantling one form of systemic oppression within Tzedek’s focal areas, and they are learning about the impact of multiple oppressions on people’s’ lives.|
(How does this individual make change using the wisdom gained through personally navigating systemic oppression?)
|This person brings the wisdom gained through navigating multiple systems of oppression to their work. Their leadership reflects the unique brilliance of working from the margins.||This person has direct, personal experience navigating white supremacy, queerphobia, transphobia and/or antisemitism and brings their experience to bear in their community work.||This person utilizes an analysis of white supremacy, queerphobia, transphobia and/or antisemitism in their work, but does not have direct, personal experience with those forms of systemic oppression.|
|Commitment to Asheville|
(How does this person’s life reflect a long-term commitment to making change in Asheville?)
|This person has deep roots in Asheville. They may have been born here, or they have established strong networks. Their vision for their future is centered in this community.||This person loves and appreciates Asheville and is working towards making this community one where everyone thrives. They have established relationships here and intend to be here for the long haul.||This person is developing relationships in the community. This person is currently in Asheville, and is honest about a possible relocation in their future.|
- Nominations Due – Thursday, June 1, 2023 5pm EST
- Awardees Notified – Monday, July 3, 2023
For more information about the Brilliance Awards, please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)