Saturday, March 07, 2009

Now collecting Sandra Olson Award Nominations!

I'm receiving Sandra Olson award nominations in my e-mail inbox and I love reading them.

A little background on what they are:

When I was a student at RISD, I never thought I would be doing non-profit managament, fundraising or a lot of the stuff I've done over the course of my (still in-progress) career as a non-profit executive.

I just wanted to make art, hang out with young people and hopefully in that messy, exploratory process, help some young people find their own creative voices.

Unfortunately, our society doesn't support/appreciate those kinds of activities near the levels it should. So my professional life has taken on a drastically different path to try to change that.

Fundraising and the idea of charity and the unequal power dynamics tied up in that word always made me uncomfortable. But reading Kim Klein helped me get through that. I've always felt she approaches fundraising as a form of community organizing, as a way to mobilize a community to make change for itself, as a mutually beneficial transaction between equals.

Our Annual Campaign exemplifies this. It's a 12-month campaign made up of gifts from individual and businesses that range from as small as $25 to as large as over $5,000. It's grown steadily in our 11 plus-year history and now supports close to a third of our annual operating costs. Some of the costs are sexy, but some of are not. (Does anyone out there want the naming rights for our electric bill?).


This is everything from rent, to art supplies to the utilities bills, all the things we need year in and year out to enroll 150 Providence teens, 20 plus artists and run public exhibitions, performances and events that reach over 2,600 attendees. That's not to mention the countless alumni students and mentors who keep in touch with us and continue to contribute volunteer hours and are now doing amazing things in the world.

A big part of our Annual Campaign event is the Sandra Olson Awards. It honors Sandra Olson, a woman who once mailed New Urban Arts a $2 check each week over the course of two years. Her gifts totaled over $250.

We are now collecting Sandra Olson award nominations.


New Urban Arts introduced this annual award in 2002 to recognize individuals and organizations who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to New Urban Arts. Board members, staff, artist mentors and students can nominate candidates.... people who share extraordinarycontributions of time, expertise, money, energy or support - often without solicitation, going beyond what is askedof them in support of New Urban Arts and its mission.
New Urban Arts has grouped the candidates as follows:


1. Individual volunteer: Board members, volunteers, consultants, etc.

2. Organization & Business: Corporation, small business, foundation, community-based organization

3. Full-time staff, artist mentor, student, alumni

Each year, New Urban Arts gives a Sandra Olson Award to one individual or organization in each category. Under special circumstances as determined by the review panel, more than one Sandra Olson Awards in each category may be given.Awards will be given at the Annual Campaign Event, April 2.

Sandra Olson Award Nominations are due Monday March 23rd to

jason AT newurbanarts DOT org

How do I nominate a candidate for a Sandra Olson Award?

Please submit the following:·


  • Name and category (see above) for the candidate you are nominating;
  • Your name;
  • The reasons why you are nominating this candidate;
  • Additional information that the review panel should know

Who are past winners of the Sandra Olson Awards?



2002 - Peter Hocking, Jephry Floral Studio, Marly Louis, Echoing Green Foundation
2003 – Kathleen Connolly, Jason Yoon, Gasbarro’s Wines
2004– Michael Fournier, Kedrin Frias, Jennifer Rice, Cornish Associates
2004 – Jesse Banks III, White Electric, Craftland
2006 – Priscilla Carrion, White Whale Web Services, Tamara Kaplan, Judy Vilmain
2007- John Tabor Jacobson, Mary Adewusi, Esther Chak, Simon Moore, Jack Richter
2008 - Sarah Meyer, Myrth York, Aneudy Alba, Andrew Oesch

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