Ford Institute Announces Director's Award Winners
By: Aurora Matthews & Kristin Frye
The first annual Director’s Award, established by Dr. Louis A. Picard, Director of the Ford Institute for Human Security, recently awarded a total of $4,000 to two local non-profit organizations. The awards went to the Foundation for the Realization of Economic Empowerment and Anzar Exchange. Both organizations have significant ties to GSPIA whose founders are former or current students.
“The award is seed money to launch new ideas or expand projects,” said Dr. Picard. It is also an expansion of the work the Ford Institute began this year with local non-profit organizations. For a chance at winning the Director’s Award, six non-profit organizations, based in Western Pennsylvania, working on human security related issues with operating budgets less than $100,000 submitted proposals in April. Last month a Selection Committee comprised of three GSPIA professors: Mϋge Finkel, Luke Condra, and Paul Nelson, reviewed these proposals. All organizations were required to have an affiliation with GSPIA. From these six applicants, two were chosen as recipients for the Director’s Award.
Anzar Exchange, a non-profit organization that seeks to strengthen the global community by promoting cross-cultural understanding and sustainable development, received $1,000. The organization was co-founded by Danielle Loustau-Williams, a current PhD candidate at GSPIA and is managed by Kathryn Collins who received her PhD from GSPIA in 2011. Anzar Exchange fulfills its mission through three main programs in the Middle Atlas Mountains of Morocco: Anti-Desertification, Ecotourism, and Goods Exchange & Promotion. Anzar Exchange will use the grant money to make the organization more professional as well as for programming activities in Pittsburgh. “We recognize Pittsburgh as an innovation center leading environmental and international policy and we want Anzar to be a part of that,” said Collins. “The Director’s Award is a great start to improving our capacity and organizational collaboration in Pittsburgh.” Additionally, the organization plans to produce educational resources and reports on environmental degradation in the developing and developed world and understand how environmental policy in Morocco impacts people.
Foundation for the Realization of Economic Empowerment (FREE), a faith-based Christian developmental organization committed to empowering women to rise above poverty, received $3,000. Its three main areas of focus are teaching sewing skills and developing sewing-related enterprises, teaching financial literacy, and building self-esteem. “Our goal is to provide income security for these women while adding value to Zambian resources before export and at the same time diversifying the export earnings of the Zambian economy,” said Dawn Close, Director of FREE and a GSPIA alum. With the grant money, the project will target a group of women in poverty living in Ng’ombe Compound, a slum of Lusaka, Zambia. Most of the women in the group are HIV+ and many are widows with dependents and are currently living on less than $1 per day. As part of the project, these women will make jewelry using Zambian copper (and eventually silver) and semi-precious stones. “This grant really enables FREE to get this project off the ground,” said Close. “Already the women have been discussing how they can set aside a portion of their profits to assist child headed households, to start a literacy project, and to do something about the lack of access to drinking water in the community.”
According to the rules of the competition, all projects funded by the Director’s Award must begin by July 1, 2012 and completed by May 31, 2013. The Ford Institute for Human Security looks forward to offering this funding opportunity to organizations each year.