Voting has closed for the Urban Improvement category, but you can still watch the inspiring videos from our extraordinary finalists. Return on September 28, 2021 to find out which nonprofit won the new Defender. In the meantime, listen to their stories, visit their websites and support their worthwhile causes.
FORCES OF NATURE DANCE THEATRE: YOUTH & WELLNESS PROGRAM (NEW YORK, NY)
Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (FON) promotes urban development for inner-city children in Harlem, NY. In neighborhoods where most children have no outlet of expression, FON has come in and allowed these youth to feel and be accomplished through the art of dance and music. FON has worked with hundreds of kids over the years, with an increasing number graduating and going to college, all because they had something to believe in and look forward to. The kids perform in places such as the world-famous Apollo Theatre, Aaron Davis Hall and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Recently, twenty-three kids under traveled to South Africa for two weeks where they performed in the Soweto Theatre (Johannesburg) and the Durban Playhouse (Durban). Forces of Nature Dance Theatre believes there is no limit for the potential of these children.
HAMPTONS COMMUNITY OUTREACH (BRIDGEHAMPTON, NY)
Hamptons Community Outreach (HCO) works to bridge the gap between two starkly different realities in our Long Island community—the well-known Hamptons of affluence and opportunity and the unseen Hamptons of poverty and economic distress. New York State leads the nation in income inequality and that gap is even wider in the Hamptons, where the working poor struggle to put food on the table and their children often lack basic necessities. The COVID pandemic only deepened this divide, and its impact is felt most acutely by children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities. Since 2018, HCO has provided food outreach, youth programs, mental health services and crisis support to families from the East End’s marginalized communities. We bring people of diverse backgrounds together in a spirit of service, generosity and kindness. Our Emergency Home Repair Fund addresses the needs of families living in hazardous conditions. Many families are displaced or separated due to health and safety risks, and we partner with licensed contractors and volunteers to ensure their safe return.
HELP GIVE HOPE (SPRINGFIELD, MO)
Help Give Hope was established in 1981 to assist needy children and families in Southwest Missouri. Originally designed to only provide assistance during Christmastime, the charity now has a robust year-round mission and has become one of Southwest Missouri’s largest children’s charities. We serve Greene, Northern Christian and Western Webster counties. We assist families with utilities, rent, gas vouchers and educational help throughout the year. We also offer a used car program that has become one of the largest in the Midwest, with over 130 vehicles donated to families in need since the program’s inception.
OVERTOWN YOUTH CENTER (MIAMI, FL)
Overtown Youth Center (OYC) is a nonprofit community development agency the serves more than 1,700 youth and adults throughout southern Florida. The mission of OYC is to lift up south Florida communities by offering equitable, high-quality programs and assistance. OYC functions as a civic influencer and a catalyst for community change using a comprehensive program framework that blends academic and vocational services, civic engagement, college and career readiness, employment assistance, healthcare, mentoring and youth empowerment. OYC promotes an intergenerational model of educational and exposure opportunities to sharpen the necessary skills for educational success, economic achievement, household wellness, and mental and physical health. OYC believes Black and Brown residents deserve a home that is beyond the basics for survival and invests resources and opportunities to build thriving communities with a robust workforce so that each member is equipped to succeed.
Due to an overwhelming response to the Defender Above & Beyond Service Awards, five exemplary semi-finalists were selected for their commitment to accomplishing great things in their communities. Visit their websites and support their efforts today.
Individuals Making Positive Advancements in their Communities Together, Inc.
Newburgh, New York
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