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BK Reader Founder C. Zawadi Morris Amongst 5 Women Leaders Selected for $20K 'Just Brooklyn' Prize

C. Zawadi Morris is celebrated for her contributions to the pursuit of racial and social justice in the borough.
BK Reader Founder C. Zawadi Morris is one of five award recipients. Top row, from left: Morris, Debra Ack, La'Shawn Allen-Muhammad. Bottom row, from left: Samora Coles and Chanel Porchia-Albert.

The Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation’s Social Justice Fund and Brooklyn Community Foundation today announced the five recipients of the inaugural Just Brooklyn Prize, a new annual award to celebrate outstanding BIPOC champions in the fight for racial justice in Brooklyn.

One of the winners is BK Reader's own Founder, C. Zawadi Morris. 

"To be nominated and then selected for this prize is such a big moment for me, because when one thinks of social justice work, a news organization might not immediately come to mind. But media is a powerful lever in the fight for equality and is also the reason why I launched this site ten years ago: to give voice, representation, validation and placement to the underserved and underrepresented communities of Brooklyn," said Morris. 

The four other 2023 recipients are Debra Ack, a founding member of East NY Community Land Trust; La'Shawn Allen-Muhammad, the executive director of Central Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation; Samora Coles the founder of Alex House Project and Chanel Porchia-Albert the founder of Ancient Song Doula Services

Each winner of the Just Brooklyn Prize will receive an unrestricted $20,000 grant in recognition of their contributions to the pursuit of racial and social justice in the borough. The inaugural winners represent a diversity of backgrounds and professional pursuits — journalism, women’s healthcare, economic development, and community organizing. 

“Sparking real change requires visionary leaders. The five winners of the inaugural Just Brooklyn Prize have helped make our borough a beacon in the fight for racial justice and we are deeply grateful to them,” said Jocelynne Rainey, President and CEO of Brooklyn Community Foundation in a press release.

“We are so proud to partner with the Social Justice Fund in this new endeavor to celebrate and invest in amazing Brooklyn changemakers, and we are grateful to the Selection Committee who had such a difficult task of choosing from such a competitive nomination pool.”

The Just Brooklyn Prize builds on the Social Justice Fund’s investment in the national Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, and Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Spark Prize for Brooklyn nonprofits.

Each year, the Spark Prize recognizes pioneering Brooklyn nonprofits committed to racial and social justice with deep roots in the borough that are often overlooked by the City’s philanthropic sector and wealthy donors. To date, the Brooklyn Community Foundation has distributed $3.6 million to 30 Spark Prize winners.

“The Just Brooklyn Prize recipients are on the ground combating some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time, from every angle, right here in Brooklyn,” said Clara Wu Tsai, founder of the Social Justice Fund and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, New York Liberty, and Barclays Center. “They lead by example and we are pleased to support their work."

"It's an honor to be doing this work in the amazing borough of Brooklyn," Morris added. "And I am so thankful to this community, Brooklyn Community Foundation and the Social Justice Fund for recognizing and acknowledging the work of not only me but my entire team at BK Reader."

The winners will be honored with an award ceremony at Barclays Center on Sept. 18, featuring a keynote address by Brooklyn's Patrick Gaspard, the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress