Why Tzedek Brilliance Awards?
Through this pilot initiative, the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund (AMKRF) 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 invest in impactful, intersectional approaches to dismantling systemic oppression that are focused on racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and combating anti-Jewish oppression. As opposed to our grantmaking that sustains organizational work, Brilliance Awards are designed to cultivate the wellbeing of brilliant community leaders by investing in their spaciousness, autonomy, and wisdom.
What does a Tzedek Brilliance Award include?
Two recipients will be selected. Each awardee will receive an individual award of $200,000 (pre-tax) paid in equal semi-annual installments over two years. We honor each awardee’s autonomy in deciding how best to use this award.
How can awardees spend the money?
These funds are unrestricted. Funds can be used for living expenses, project expenditures, professional development, healing, expanding project capacity, sabbatical travel, general operating expenses, and time for self care. The exact budget is to be determined by the awardee.
Are there other expectations tied to the award?
Awardees will be invited to complete an interview with AMKRF staff so that their story can be shared with the local community. While there is no formal grant reporting, AMKRF staff will invite awardees to meet in Spring 2020 and Spring 2021 in order to check in and assess this pilot program.
Am I expected to give up other paid work during the terms of this award?
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 AMKRF expect?
Through this pilot program, AMKRF is seeking to move beyond traditional models of grantmaking and philanthropy. This award is 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. AMKRF 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?
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.
Is the Tzedek Brilliance Award a recurring program of AMKRF? What is a pilot program?
At this time, AMKRF is committing to one cycle of the Tzedek Brilliance Award. This is an
exploratory program that we are launching as we learn about what is most impactful in Asheville.
AMKRF is currently engaging in a community-based research process where we are in deep
conversations with local leaders, grantees, Fellow alums, and community partners to re-vision our work. Our offerings will shift and transform in response to the results of this research.
Can a group apply?
One person will be selected for each of the two Tzedek Brilliance Awards. Funds may be used to hire or contract with others or invest in a nonprofit organization, per the awardees discretion.
Are undocumented Ashevillians eligible to apply?
Where did this idea come from and how is AMKRF building accountability into the organizational process of administering these awards?
As a staff, we’ve shared our mutual admiration for the MacArthur Fellowship Program (commonly referred to as “Genius Grants”). We were delighted to see Z. Smith Reynolds announce the All for NC Fellowship, too.
We are inspired by transformative grantmaking models that shift the power dynamic between funders and grantees, and we are working towards more trust-based funding grounded in community.
We are also aiming to build accountability into our grantmaking practices. In the process of designing this opportunity, we have been in deep conversation with community leaders to consider the impacts of this program, integrating their feedback along the way. We will be engaged in ongoing conversation with a group of advisors who are leaders in local nonprofits and grassroots community organizations, with awardees, and community members throughout the pilot. We plan to document the feedback we receive in the process and share our learnings on our blog throughout 2019 and 2020.
How is AMKRF 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. AMKRF’s practices for organizational accountability are described above. 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 AMKRF investing these funds in individuals rather than organizations?
AMKRF 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.
Tzedek Brilliance Awards are designed to fund leaders who do not have the capacity to secure grants to fund their vision and to support impactful ideas that are often deemed “unfundable.” 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.
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.
Other than money, is AMKRF available to provide other types of support and resources?
AMKRF staff will provide awardees with a resource guide with local support service and training opportunities. Additionally, staff are available to connect awardees with AMKRF’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 AMKRF staff provide these directly to awardees.
When must the award money be spent?
All funds will be dispersed within 2 years from the date of the first payment. Funds can be spent on a timeline determined by the awardee.