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The Ford Foundation honored Professor Bryan Stevenson this spring with one of its 12 Visionaries Awards for social innovators.
The $100,000 prizes were created this year to mark the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary. “Through these awards, we want to highlight the unheralded work of thousands of courageous leaders whose lives are devoted to improving systems and institutions so that all people have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. “These 12 individuals represent the courage, commitment, and innovative thinking of all the remarkable people who work on the frontlines of social change.”
The globally dispersed honorees include a Peruvian indigenous women’s rights leader and a Kenyan political cartoonist. Stevenson was recognized for “challenging the injustice of poverty” through his scholarship and clinical teaching at NYU Law as well as his leadership of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a nonprofit organization he founded to provide legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners who have been denied fair and just treatment in the legal system. Stevenson has been particularly active on behalf of death-row inmates and children sentenced to life without parole. Acknowledging the award in a statement, Stevenson said he would use the monies to continue EJI’s efforts, adding, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth—it’s justice.”