African American News


Nikole Hannah-Jones to Introduce 3rd Annual Luminary Awards

CHICAGOMay 3, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education Group [The CAFE Group]—will award five one million-dollar grants to Black leaders in education on May 17, 2023 during the virtual 1954 Project Luminary Awards at 12:00 PM CDT for registered attendees.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones kicks off the 3rd broadcast of this event, which will also feature Helene Gayle, M.D., MPH, president of Spelman College, and CEO, BMe CommunityTrabian Shorters, who have signed on as presenters.

Since it was founded in 2021, the 1954 Project has granted more than $15 million to its fellows, or Luminaries as they are called. The awards are funded through contributions from 1954 founders Don and Liz Thompson, along with a host of other donors including the Walton Family Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. To date, the 1954 Project has raised $35 million.

“This year we have the honor of hosting the awards on the 69th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling,” said Liz Thompson, president of The CAFE Group. “We are delighted to have Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and friend, Nikole Hannah-Jones, join us as a special guest for this year’s celebration.”

Hannah-Jones is recognized for her investigative journalism and her work on the 1619 Project, which reframes the contributions of enslaved Black Americans to US history. Her previous work at ProPublica chronicled the way official policy created and maintains segregation in housing and schools.

“I started my journalism career as an education reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer covering the majority-Black Durham Public Schools,” said Hannah-Jones, who added: “During those years, I saw the critical impact of race and class and the widespread consequences of the Brown vs. Board Supreme Court decision, so I understand the vital work that the 1954 Project is doing.”

Don Thompson, co-founder of the 1954 Project, recently observed how far the work has come: “Every year, we continue to be impressed by the creative and collective genius of Black leaders in the areas of Diversity in Education, Economic Mobility, and Innovation in Teaching and Learning. This year, we received over 400 applications from prospective Luminaries across the country, and we expect that number to grow over time.”

2023 Luminaries

Diversity in Education

  • Carmita SemaanSurge Institute, (Chicago, IL)
    • Develops emerging leaders of color in education through its Surge Fellowship.

Economic Mobility

  • Alex BernadotteBeyond 12 (Oakland, CA)
    • Uses digital tools to support students nationwide with the academic, social, and emotional aids needed to succeed in higher education.
  • Reuben OgbonnaThe Marcy Lab School (Brooklyn, NY)
    • Provides a one-year alternative to college as a pathway to high-growth technology careers for young adults from underestimated backgrounds.

Innovation in Teaching and Learning

  • Chris ChatmonKingmakers of Oakland (Oakland, CA)
    • Provides culturally affirming teaching and learning models for Black boys through coaching, as well as professional development for teachers, support staff, and district leadership.
  • Brittany YoungB-360 (Baltimore, MD)
    • Provides STEM education, career preparation, and prison diversion rooted in dirt-bike culture to youth under 16.

The 1954 Project 2023 Luminary Awards are on May 17, 2023You must register to attend. Learn more at

The 1954 Project is an initiative of The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education Group (The CAFE Group), a 501c3 that provides financial and programmatic support to Leaders of Color whose proximity to current and historic challenges in education allows them to influence philanthropic decisions and create meaningful and relevant solutions. By leveraging their lived experiences and the genius within our communities, The CAFE Group has created a glidepath from College Intern to Established Leader designed to catalyze lasting systemic change.

SOURCE The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education Group

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *