Walentas Family Foundation announces inaugural David Prize winners

Walentas Family Foundation announces inaugural David Prize winners

The Walentas Family Foundation in New York City has announced the inaugural winners of the David Prize, an annual award that recognizes entrepreneurs with a progressive vision "to create a better, brighter New York City."

Named for Brooklyn developer and Walentas Family Foundation co-founder David Walentas and launched by his son, Jed, who runs Two Trees Management, a real estate company, the prize competition is open to any changemaker working in the city's five boroughs. Described by the New York Times as "a sort of MacArthur Grant specifically for New York City residents," the award includes a $200,000 unrestricted grant to enable recipients to scale and sustain their solutions to pressing challenges.

Selected from more than sixty-five hundred applicants and twenty-two finalists, the five winners of the inaugural David Prizes are Suzette Brown, a pediatrician whose company, Strong Children Wellness, works to change the way health care is delivered in the city's poorest neighborhoods by embedding pediatric clinics within existing social service locations; Manuel Castro, director of the New Immigrant Center for Employment (NICE), who envisions an immigrant-run and -owned cooperative model that helps workers secure safe, dignified jobs while holding employers accountable; Domingo Morales, whose education initiative, Compost Power, is developing an expert how-to guide for composting processes across the city and will be opening compost sites at New York City Housing Authority housing complexes and other locations; Edafe Okporo, a Nigerian LGBTQ advocate who was forced to flee his home country and seek asylum in the United States and who now leads the RDJ Refugee Shelter, which helps asylum-seekers and immigrants make the transition to a new environment with dignity and purpose; and Cielo Villa, who has built Road to Uni, a free online resource that provides college counseling and tips, assistance with application essays, and other counseling services in a flexible, real-time format.

"The David Prize announces five changemakers to receive its inaugural $1 million prize." Walentas Family Foundation press release 10/13/2020. Jazmine Hughes. "New prize modeled on MacArthur 'Genius' grants hands out $1 million." New York Times 10/13/2020.