Meet Our 2015 Finalists

In Spring of 2015, applicants submitted 8-10 minute videos and 10 finalists were chosen 87 entries that spanned 22 nations and 18 US states. First round jurors consisted of Kalamazoo College faculty, staff, and students along with regional social justice leaders evaluated each entry; all applications were reviewed by three jurors. 

Each finalist was awarded $1,000 and brought to Kalamazoo College Oct. 9-10, 2015, where they presented their video and made a case for their projects to an audience consisting of a second jury, other finalists, Kalamazoo College campus members, invited guests, and the general public. One project received the $25,000 Global Prize at the end of the weekend gathering.

Finalists are listed in alphabetical order by project name.

At a Crossroads: Forest Dwellers of India
Location: villages in Madhya Pradesh, India; communities in Canada and USA
The project empowers the hope of forest-dwelling tribal communities to afforest barren lands, converting wastelands into healthy eco-systems, and thus returning identity, livelihood, sustenance and rootedness to tribal communities. The project deconstructs hierarchy and re-defines progress by honoring indigenous wisdom, traditional rituals, practices and tribal languages. It revitalizes the relationship between cultural indigeneity and biodiversity by decolonizing education and supporting indigenous elder-to-youth mentorship, retaining memory, history, culture and learning from the land. India’s tribal people are among the most marginalized across the nation; in solidarity with indigenous people around the world, they share their stories and bring visibility to the worldwide struggles of indigenous people. Opportunities for the global community to rediscover the sacred relationship with forests and land through service-based learning in these villages will facilitate reconnection with self, others, and Earth as a living interconnected system.

For more information on At a Crossroads: Forest Dwellers of India.

Bavubuka: Transformative Voices of Justice
Location: Kampala, Uganda
The Bavubuka Foundation believes that the use of music and the arts can transform lives and unify diverse communities. The Bavubuka Foundation does this by reconnecting young leaders to their authentic indigenous expression and developing their understanding of the value of their culture and heritage. They use unconventional, innovative ideas to encourage action-based impact-developing movements for various causes that they have diagnosed in their communities. It is Bavubuka Foundation’s mission to engage elders as the foundational source of wisdom and knowledge to lead forward. This encourages a true connection to ancestral roots which keeps the young leaders grounded to serve their communities with pride. They impact the whole society through the introduction of a rediscovered authentic voice of leadership, using Indigenous hip hop culture as a foundation to rebuild, heal and restore the spirits, hearts and souls of the community.

For more information about The Bavubuka Foundation.

Black on Both Sides
 Chicago, IL, USA
Black on Both Sides is a project working to build a new generation of Black organizers working towards the abolition of the Foster Care system and the Prison System. The project highlights the voices and experiences of Black youth who have experienced both the foster care system and the juvenile or adult justice system, while launching a direct action organizing campaign to address the root causes of the foster care to prison pipeline.

For more information about Black on Both Sides.

Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA National
Familia: Trans Queer Liberation is the only national LGBTQ Latin@ organization that focuses on racial justice utilizing a trans and queer lens. The organization was founded in 2014 and their mission is to work at the national and local levels to achieve the collective liberation of LGBT Latin@s and families by leading an intergenerational movement through community organizing, advocacy, and education. Familia: TQLM is currently working on immigration, trans justice and family acceptance.

For more information about Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement.

Justice for Injured Colombian General Motors Workers
Location: Bogota, Colombia
The injured Colombian GM workers organized an association, ASOTRECOL, after developing injuries on the job that left them disabled. They have been camped in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia for nearly 4 years and have used a series of creative actions to bring visibility to their struggle.

For more information on Justice for Injured Colombian General Motors.

Mujeres, Lucha y Derechos Para Todas A.C. (MULYD)
Location: Región Norte del Estado de México, México
Mujeres, Lucha y Derechos para Todas is the first organized group led by indigenous women in the northern region of Mexico state. Their mission is to contribute to the knowledge and acknowledgement of women’s human rights by developing community leaders who promote and spread effective and appropriate information, particularly on sexual and reproductive rights to other women so that they may fully exercise their rights. MULYD offers participatory workshops for housewives and develop capacity-building methodologies that are culturally adequate to their context. They believe that strengthening women’s leadership means supporting the assertion of their cultural identity and encouraging a self-criticism that will position them as protagonists of their own struggle against inequality and discrimination.

Our Community is Our Campaign
Freedom Inc.
Location: Madison, WI, USA
Freedom Inc. is a grassroots collective of intergenerational Black and Southeast Asian wimmin, queer folks and youth whose work is to end violence (both interpersonal and systemic) within and against low-income communities of color. FI works to build the leadership and community organizing capacities of low-income wimmin, queer folks and youth. FI’s movement is rooted in an intersectional analysis; therefore they employ a non-competitive human rights framework to address the multi-issues that their communities face. Their motto is, “our communities are our campaign.”  Ultimately, FI’s work builds people power and takes power away from systems.

For more information on Our Community is Our Campaign.

Radical Mental Health: Paths for Individual & Collective Liberation
The Icarus Project
Location: New York, NY, USA National
The Icarus Project is a support network and media project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. Icarus advances social justice by fostering mutual aid and organizing practices that reconnect healing and collective liberation. They do this work through education, visibility, mad maps, and international exchange. Their workshops, online presence, media presence, and resources provide individuals and communities with frameworks for radical healing. This work shifts conceptions of mental wellness and directly impacts how psychiatrists, therapists, and institutions address emotional distress around the world. The Mad Maps project provides people with tools to transform themselves and their cultures. In late 2014, they began a network-wide capacity building and decolonization process, deepening their ability to resist intersectional oppressions.

For more information about The Icarus Project.

Trans Women of Color Collective: Shifting the Narrative
Location: Washington, DC, USA Transnational
All across the globe, trans and gender non-conforming people of color are murdered simply for living in their truth.  Trans communities are disproportionately impacted by structural oppression inextricably linked to physical violence.  The average age of a trans woman of color is less than 35 years old.  More than 41% of trans youth attempt suicide before the age of 21.  Trans Women of Color Collective is a grass-roots funded global initiative created to offer opportunities for trans people of color, their families and comrades to engage in healing, foster kinship and leverage resources to dismantle systems of oppression so that we can create a world where we all are free.  Their mission is to uplift the narratives, lived experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color as they build towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.

For more information on Trans Women of Color Collective

Uno por Uno
Puente Human Rights Movement

Unfortunately, Uno por Uno [Puente Human Rights Movement] was unable to attend.  

Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA
The Puente Human Rights Movement is a grassroots, migrant justice organization in Phoenix, AZ. Puente develops, educates, and empowers migrant communities to protect and defend migrants and the families of migrants in order to enhance the quality of life of community members. Puente’s experience has taught them that true change will come only when impacted communities organize, act and speak for themselves. Puente’s accomplishments are both local and national – they measure their impact through the development of their base, the concrete alleviation of the community’s suffering, and the political reach of their demands.  By stopping deportations Uno por Uno (One by One), Puente attempts to transform the immigration debate, build new leaders, and challenge the criminalization and mass incarceration of migrant communities.

For more information on Uno por Uno

Stream the 2015 Global Prize Weekend

2015 Global Prize Finalist Presentation

2015 Global Prize Opening Celebration

2015 Global Prize Finalist Presentations

2015 Global Prize Winner Announcement