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Why Tzedek Brilliance Awards?
Through this initiative, the Tzedek Social Justice Fund is investing directly in leaders who have consistently shown up for Asheville. Tzedek Brilliance Awards are designed to sustain ongoing efforts to transform Asheville into a community where everyone thrives and to reward impactful, intersectional approaches to dismantling systemic oppression that are focused on racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and combating antisemitism. As opposed to the Tzedek grantmaking that sustains organizational work, Brilliance Awards are designed to cultivate the well-being of brilliant community leaders by investing in their spaciousness, autonomy, and wisdom.
Who is eligible?
Award winners 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. Tzedek staff, Fellows, board members or immediate family of Tzedek staff, Fellows and board members are not eligible.
How does Tzedek define “leaders”?
Tzedek believes that wide-ranging community efforts–from artistic interventions to grassroots organizing to nonprofit/governmental/private collaborations–are impactful and deserving of recognition. Community leaders most impacted by inequity in Asheville will be prioritized in the selection process.
How will awardees be selected?
Community members who would like to be considered are invited to submit a self-nomination. The Selection Committee will review nominations, rank submissions using this rubric, solicit additional information from references, and select two Tzedek Brilliance awardees.
Who is on the Selection Committee?
The Selection Committee is composed of Tzedek’s Grantmaking Team (Marsha Davis, Jennifer Langton and Libby Kyles) and some of our Community Grantmaking Fellows (Sala Menaya-Meritt, Ray Hemachandra and Clarissa Harris).
How can awardees spend the money?
Awardees decide the best way to use this award. There are no strings attached to this award and there is no requirement that funds go towards past or future work expenses.
Are there other expectations tied to the award?
No. Awardees will be invited to attend an optional gathering with other Impact Awardees to connect with each other, network, and provide feedback to Tzedek about the grant program. Additionally, awardees will be invited to submit elements of their story to Tzedek staff, so that we can share your story with the local community if you so choose. There are no grant reporting requirements or expectations for you to fulfill.
Am I expected to give up other paid work during the terms of this award?
No, however this opportunity is funded at a level to support leaders to leave paid work if they choose to do so. This award may support someone who is interested in investing full time in work that is not paid or underpaid. It might support a sabbatical or extended time for visioning a new project. Each recipient’s life circumstances are likely to be unique, so while there is no requirement to leave a paid job, this award is intended to make such a transition possible.
What outcome does Tzedek expect?
Through the Brilliance Awards, Tzedek is seeking to move beyond traditional models of grantmaking and philanthropy. These awards are not tied to an outcome or final product. This is a trust-based program that affirms the autonomy and self-determination of our local leaders working for justice. During the grant cycle, awardees may use the funds however they want: to innovate on Asheville’s behalf, invest in their current work, and/or take time for rest, recovery, and self care. Tzedek believes that sustaining the wellbeing of our leaders is as important as resourcing their work, and so we trust that leaders will use resources in ways they know are best.
What are the tax implications of receiving a Tzedek Brilliance Award?
This award is income that is subject to state and federal income tax. The tax implications will vary depending on your personal financial circumstances. Awardees will be issued a 1099 for the income received, which is also reported to the IRS and is taxable according to your individual income level and deductions. While each individual’s situation is different, it is advised that 15-25% of the award be set aside to pay income tax. Seek the guidance of a financial advisor as needed.
Can a group apply?
No, the Tzedek Brilliance Awards are designed for individuals. Funds may be used to hire or contract with others or invest in a nonprofit organization, per the awardee’s discretion.
Can my business, LLC or corporation receive a Brilliance Award?
No. Brilliance Awards are specifically designed to fund YOU as an individual, not your business or the organization that you work for. Grants to your organization would require a different type of application, grant agreement, and reporting requirements following IRS rules. Once you receive the no-strings attached award, you can choose to put it towards your organization or business if you’d like.
Are undocumented Ashevillians eligible to apply?
If you believe this applies to you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Other than money, is Tzedek available to provide other types of support and resources?
Tzedek staff will provide awardees with a resource guide with local support services. Additionally, staff are available to connect awardees with Tzedek’s network and to provide information about basic bookkeeping, hiring employees and contractors, and funding sources.
Is there training, coaching, or professional development associated with this program?
Awardees may choose to use funds for training, coaching, and professional development, but there will not be additional funds available for these expenses nor will Tzedek staff provide these directly to awardees.
When must the award money be spent?
All funds will be dispersed in one check at the time the award is made. Funds can be spent on a timeline determined by the awardee.
How is Tzedek going to hold recipients accountable?
The program is designed to counter some of the most toxic dynamics in philanthropy. We do not believe our access to financial resources gives us the expertise to hold power over awardees. At the same time, we know that accountability is an essential practice. Brilliance Award recipients are engaged leaders in Asheville, surrounded by community. We encourage awardees to develop practices of accountability in relationship with the communities where they live and work.
Why is Tzedek investing these funds in individuals rather than organizations?
Tzedek has a record of funding national, regional, and local nonprofits, alongside grassroots organizations and local leaders based in Asheville, NC. We will continue to fund organizations with missions and values that align with our organizational strategy.
Asheville’s innovative leaders have a demonstrated effort of making change happen at the collective level. Numerous community-based programs for youth, movement building efforts, art-community partnerships, and co-operatives are led by individuals whose work has wide-reaching impacts. We believe that resourcing community-centered individuals is one path to collective impact. If we continue to only fund nonprofits and organizations, we are supporting the status quo where visionary community leaders are consistently undercompensated and under-recognized. Given the chronic burnout and overwork we see among leaders, we also want to provide a route for recovery in the hopes of sustaining Asheville’s brilliance.
Are the Tzedek Brilliance Awards a recurring program of Tzedek?
Yes, the Brilliance Awards are a core part of our grantmaking and will be offered yearly.
Recipients may use this opportunity to build capacity in an emerging organization or to rest and skill-build, to vision and launch a new project or to secure stable housing in Asheville. The possibilities are endless.
Why are these awards smaller than those Tzedek offered in 2019?
Tzedek offered the Brilliance Awards as an exploratory program in 2019 to learn which funding models would be most impactful in Asheville. In addition to offering exploratory funding programs, we engaged in a community-based research process where we were in deep conversations with local leaders, grantees, past Brilliance Award applicants and community partners to re-vision our work. Our offerings have transformed in response to the results of this research and feedback from our communities.