$1 Million Opus Prize Finalists Announced

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Nominees' faith-based social entrepreneur work is changing lives in Brazil, Colombia and Morocco

The Opus Prize recognizes individuals whose work and story can inspire us to tackle the world's most deeply rooted problems

The University of St. Thomas and the Opus Prize Foundation will honor social entrepreneurs from Brazil, Colombia and Morocco in November, and one will receive a $1 million award from the foundation to further his or her faith-based humanitarian efforts.

The Opus Prize is a $1 million award and two $100,000 awards recognizing unsung heroes from around the world who are creating lasting social change and inspiring others to do the same. The finalists will be in Minnesota and the Opus Prize winner will be announced during a presentation hosted by St. Thomas on Nov. 4.

"The Opus Prize recognizes individuals whose work and story can inspire us to tackle the world's most deeply rooted problems," says Amy Sunderland, executive director of the Opus Prize Foundation. "These finalists demonstrate what faith, will and vision can do to make our world a better place. They show us change is possible."

The following individuals are finalists for the 2009 Opus Prize because of their social entrepreneurship, transformational leadership and commitment to faith and service.

Aïcha Ech Channa of Casablanca, Morocco
Aïcha Ech Channa is founder and president of Association Solidarité Féminine, providing services and council to unmarried women with children equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to ensure their own livelihoods.

Sister Valeriana García-Martín of Bogotá, Colombia
Sister Valeriana García-Martín is founder and director of the Asociación Hogares Luz y Vida, which cares for 145 physically and mentally handicapped children and educates or provides day care services for 850 children from the community.

Father Hans Stapel, O.F.M., of Guaratinguetá, Brazil
Father Hans Stapel is co-founder and president of Fazenda da Esperança - Farms of Hope. He has established more than 60 therapeutic communities in 10 countries to help people with drug and alcohol addictions rebuild their lives.

About the Opus Prize Foundation
The Opus Prize Foundation recognizes unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today's most persistent social problems by annually awarding the Opus Prize, a $1 million award and two $100,000 monetary awards. Opus Prize winners combine a driving entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to give power to the disenfranchised, opportunities to the poorest, and inspire others to pursue lives of service. The Prize is awarded through partnerships with Catholic universities or colleges to maximize the scope and impact of its mission. The first Opus Prize was given in 2004. Today, 16 individuals from the United States and around the world have been recognized. The Opus Prize Foundation, established in 1994 by the founding chairman of Opus Corporation, is a private and independent foundation and does not accept unsolicited nominations. For more information, visit http://www.opusprize.org.

About University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas is Minnesota's largest private college or university, with 11,000 students and campuses in St. Paul, Minneapolis, Owatonna and Rome.

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Erika Frederick
For the Opus Prize Foundation
952-346-6194
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Doug Hennes
University of St. Thomas
651-962-6402
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