The Massachusetts Bible Society's annual Founders' Vision Award is given each fall to both a non-profit organization and an individual who, through their work in an area of social justice, embody the passion and mission of one or more of our 107 founders. The theme of the Founders' Vision Award changes each year, and is determined by an official vote of the MBS Board of Trustees.
2015 Award Winners
The tragic events of 2014 in places such as Ferguson, Cleveland, and New York City, along with the resulting nationwide protests recalled for us a similar period of broad, racially charged upheaval surrounding the murder of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy in the early 19th century. Several of the Massachusetts Bible Society's founders played instrumental roles in a public debate sparked by this event at Boston's Faneuil Hall in December of 1837 and were strong supporters of the abolitionist movement.
In recognition of this historical connection to our contemporary tragedies, we selected "Challenges of Racial Justice" as our official theme for 2015. We are proud to announce that this year's awards honor Dr. Valerie Batts and YWCA Boston, each of whom exemplifies the collective effort towards meeting these challenges in today's world.
Valerie Batts is the Founding Director and Chief Operating Officer of VISIONS, Inc. - a non-profit training and consulting organization specializing in establishing environments of diversity and inclusion. Valerie leads the consultation and training components of VISIONS and works with all types of clients, from for-profit businesses to faith-based groups to government agencies to secular non-profits to individuals. She holds a Ph.D. from Duke University and is a licensed clinical psychologist. In addition to building an exemplary social justice legacy with VISIONS, Dr. Batts has authored many pieces on race relations - including her book Modern Racism: New Melody for the Same Old Tune and the article, "Is Reconciliation Possible: Lessons from Combating Modern Racism".
YWCA Boston opened it's doors in 1866 and is the first of its kind in the United States. Established "by leaders in the abolitionist and suffrage movements," the organization is "dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all." Among YW Boston's program's designed to take on the challenges of racial justice are its Community Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity - five-session conversations ending with participants developing action plans to address race-related issues affecting their communities or organizations. Other programs involving racial justice include YW's Lead Boston initiative - an 11-month social justice course for leaders, dealing specifically with race and gender inequality - Youth/Police Dialogues, and the annual Stand Against Racism event - a citywide effort designed to "rase awareness and empower action toward the elimination of racism in our local communities."
2014 Award Winners
This year marked the innaugural year of the Founders' Vision Award. The chosen theme was "Food Security and Justice," in expression of the life-long vision of founder Edward F. Tuckerman, Jr. The recipients were:
The Honorable James Patrick McGovern - Member of the U.S. House of Representatives - Massachusetts, 2nd District - for his tireless work toward ending hunger in Massachusetts and beyond through - among other projects - his #EndHungerNowcampaign, conducted through weekly speeches on the floor of the House about practical ways the government can curb problem of hunger in America, and his successful efforts to expand the "McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which helps alleviate child hunger and poverty by providing nutritious meals to children in schools in the world's poorest countries."
Project Bread - Massachusetts-based non-profit organization - for their comprehensive and creative work towards not only ending hunger in Massachusetts, but providing high-quality, high-nutritional food for those communities who can least afford it. In 2013, Project Bread "invested more than $5 million in community based programs, food pantries, health, centers, summer meal programs, elder meal programs . . . all to reach the state's most vulnerable populations . . ." The organization works with schools in developing nutritional lunch programs for children under their care, and invests time and money as a "champion for effective legislation that builds capacity within the region's local and sustainable food system and increases access to healthy food for all." Project bread also hosts the annual Walk for Hunger, in which tens of thousands of people participate to raise hunger awareness and money to combat hunger in Massachusetts.