December 14th, 2012

Open Society Announces 2012 Audience Engagement Grant Winners

The Open Society Foundations (OSF) has announced the winners of its 2012 Audience Engagement Grants. The annual grants, which vary in dollar amounts, support documentary projects that propose to go beyond using photography to raise awareness of issues, and “take a more direct role in making change happen.” Each photographer partners with an organization to present the work to new audiences and engagement them in effecting political or social change. For the first time in the history of the grant, all the projects are located in the United States.

The 2012 winners are:

Emily Schiffer, in partnership with the Center for Urban Transformation and Magnum Foundation:
“See Potential” (Chicago, Illinois)
“See Potential,” profiled in PDN’s Community issue (see “Helping Communities Speak for Themselves: See Potential”) uses banners created using documentary photographs captured in South Side neighborhoods to promote four urban revitalization projects in the Englewood and Bronzeville neighborhoods. Neighbors are asked to show their support for the projects via text message.

Robin Bowman, in partnership with The American Teenager Project: “The American Teenager Project” (Richmond, California)
Robin Bowman will work with local arts organizations, high schools, and advocacy groups in Richmond, California—such as Community Leaders Organizing Undocumented Dreamers (CLOUD) to create an exhibition, curriculum and storytelling workshops, and a program to train youth and teachers to be ambassadors for the program who will stimulate youth engagement on civil and human rights issues.

Joseph Rodriguez, in partnership with New America Media: “Re-entry Stories” (Richmond and San Jose, California)
Joseph Rodriguez will train journalism students and youth reporters fro Santa Clara University and the University of California, Berkeley, as well as reporters from New America Media’s youth media hubs to sensitively and accurately document the stories of people re-entering society after incarceration and create multimedia presentations. Their work will be featured alongside Rodriguez’s “Re-entry in Los Angeles” and shown at forums to strengthen advocacy for criminal justice reforms in California.

Jon Lowenstein, in partnership with Trans-Border Institute: “Escondido en Escondido” (Escondido, California)
Jon Lowenstein will provide faith leaders and religious youth groups in Escondido, California, with tools and training to document and address immigration issues and promote community integration. The resulting images will be combined with Lowenstein’s “Shadow Lives USA” and distributed in Escondido as a newsprint handout; additional content will be available to readers using an augmented reality browser, Junaio.

The winning proposals were selected this year by Claudine Brown (former Director of the Arts and Culture Program, Nathan Cummings Foundation and currently Assistant Secretary for Education and Access, Smithsonian Institution); Stephen Ferry (photographer and past Audience Engagement Grant recipient); and Wendy Levy (co-founder, Sparkwise and Senior Strategist, Tomorrow Partners). Fred Ritchin (Professor, Photography & Imaging, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University).

Related Articles:

Anatomy of a Successful Grant Application: Jon Lowenstein’s Guggenheim Fellowship

AmericanPoverty.org: Addressing America’s Invisible Problem (founded by Steve Liss and Jon Lowenstein)

Helping Communities Speak for Themselves: See Potential