Announcing the 2019 Discount Foundation Legacy Award Winner
This International Workers' Day, Jobs with Justice Education Fund and NFG’s Funders for a Just Economy are excited to celebrate Odessa Kelly as an outstanding champion for workers' rights and economic equity, and this year's winner of the Discount Foundation Legacy Award.
The Discount Foundation Legacy Award was launched in 2015 to commemorate and carry on the legacy of the Foundation’s decades-long history of supporting leading edge organizing in the worker justice arena beyond its spend down as a foundation in 2014. Created in partnership with Jobs With Justice Education Fund and the Neighborhood Funders Group’s Funders for a Just Economy, the Discount Legacy Award annually identifies, supports and celebrates an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and contributed significantly to the workers’ rights movement in the United States and/or globally.
Co-Chair of Stand Up Nashville
A native of Nashville, TN, Odessa has advocated for the working class and underserved communities on issues ranging from affordable housing to establishing the first ever Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in the state of Tennessee. She believes that Nashville has the potential to achieve a progressive paradigm shift — a cultural shift in how a traditional southern city becomes a leader in the progressive movement across the country.
Odessa works to bring positive and equitable change to the Nashville community by serving as co-chair for Stand Up Nashville, a coalition of community-based organizations and labor unions that represent the working people of Nashville who have seen their city transformed by development, but have not shared in the benefits of that growth.
She also serves as Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH), Economic Equity & Jobs task force chair. Her work with NOAH has included building one of the largest and most powerful social justice movements in Nashville.
Community Organizer and Leader at Migrant Justice
Enrique "Kike" Balcazar immigrated to the United States from Tabasco, Mexico when he was 17 years old. He joined his parents on a dairy farm in rural Vermont and worked for years on farms across the state. Enrique joined Migrant Justice and became a leader in the successful campaign to expand access to driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants in Vermont. He became part of the organization's Farmworker Coordinating Committee and is now an organizer and spokesperson. Enrique is one of the principal architects of Milk with Dignity, a worker-led program securing human rights and economic justice in dairy supply chains. In 2017, during a national campaign calling on Ben & Jerry's to join the program, Enrique and fellow organizer Zully Palacios were arrested by ICE agents while leaving the Migrant Justice office. A wave of protests won their release from detention, though Enrique remains in deportation proceedings. Despite the government's persecution, Enrique continued to lead the Milk with Dignity campaign to victory, signing a historic contract with Ben & Jerry's in October, 2017.
Co-founder of Adhikaar and the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition
Luna Ranjit’s work is rooted in the community. For more than a decade, Luna guided Adhikaar's programs, research, policy advocacy, and partnerships, building visibility and power for the emerging Nepali-speaking immigrant community. As a co-founder of the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition, she helped lead the way for the sweeping changes to improve working conditions in the nail salon industry. She also served on the advisory board of the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salons Alliance. Luna has been quoted and featured in print and broadcast media on the issues related to workers’ rights, immigrant rights, language justice, and civic engagement. Her groundbreaking work has been recognized by many community organizations and elected officials. In 2016, she received the Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize created to support and inspire innovative social change makers throughout the world.
Organizer with the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice
As an organizer in New Orleans, Alfred works to win back power for structurally unemployed and underemployed Black men and women through campaigns to achieve higher wages and better standards in his community. Through Alfred’s tremendous organizing campaigns, he has helped win local hiring on post-Katrina public construction and development projects, a “Ban the Box” rule, and a living wage and paid sick leave ordinance for individuals employed under city contracts. “By sitting down and talking with other workers at the New Orleans Worker Center, I realized that we’re in this together,” Alfred said. “New Orleans won’t stop. I won’t stop. This award is bigger than I am. It’s all about doing the work on the ground. We’re shaking this world up."
The winner of the annual Discount Foundation Legacy Award receives $20,000 stipend to provide them with the flexibility to expand upon their professional activities and achievements in the absence of reporting requirements or other specific obligations.
To learn more about the eligibility requirements and nomination process, please see our FAQs.