There was a time when the red carpet was reserved for star-studded celebrities and the rich and famous. But a trend is emerging among companies, television networks, and now ministries to award social innovators who are working to solve the world’s problems.
On July 31st, VH1 broadcasted the Do Something! Awards, an event featuring socially-conscious A-listers that highlighted the work of five young “do-gooders” who are “in the trenches, creating substantial change in our world.” VH1 awarded each honoree $10,000. This fall, the seventh annual CNN Heroes tribute will be televised to “honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid and make a real difference in their communities.” Each hero will receive $50,000 with the “CNN hero of the year” receiving an additional $250,000.
But a Christian ministry will offer a faith-based spin on the concept on October 28. That’s when a partnership of ministries led by Adventures in Missions (AIM), an international organization focused on Christian discipleship particularly among the poor, will host its second Epoch Awards at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, GA. The awards will sing the praises of Christian leaders who have excelled in the mission field in specific categories, awarding six winners with a total of $50,000.
A spokesperson for the awards told me that AIM received over 500 nominations during the past several months. Twenty finalists have been selected from among them and include:
- Kim Biddle of L.A.-based Saving Innocence has become a face of restoration and hope in the domestic fight against child sex trafficking. Noticing a gap in the legal system—survivors were being rescued but not always provided with after-care—Kim decided to mobilize others to give these young women a future. Saving Innocence offers support for survivors and is the first organization to be contracted through the Los Angeles County Department of Probation.
- Blake Canterbury, founder of BeRemedy, an organization that uses Facebook and Twitter to publicize the tangible needs of individuals and organizations, asking followers and friends to meet that need within 24-hours. Since the company was launched, they’ve never seen a need go unmet.
- Eddo Kim, creator of The Supply, a scalable education solution by implementing technological advances for students in global urban slums. He has three Ivy League degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Harvard University at a mere 29-years-old. But when many his classmates headed for Wall Street, Kim chose to create the educational organization. According to his nomination, Kim views his education as a call to action, not a right to pursue prestige, money, or fame.
- Natividad Mendoza, is a former gang member who had been jailed 16 times over 16 years before he decided to turn over a new leaf and found From Gangs 2 Jobs. His organization provides Phoenix-area convicts with education and work readiness programs coupled with community and spiritual mentorship.
- Jena Nardella, who founded Blood:Water Mission, an organization working to solve two of Africa’s biggest problems: the need for clean water and the lack of HIV/AIDS care and support. She began the effort when she was only 21, and since then, Blood:Water Mission has provided clean drinking water to more than 800,000 and HIV/AIDS care to more than 40,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The full roster of finalists has been named in a just-released video (below), but the winners of the $50,000 prize won’t be announced until October 28th. On that day, there will likely be limos, tuxedos, and maybe even a roll of red berber. But no matter who receives the prize, everyone will walk away a winner.