New Orleans’ Camp Congo Square Announced as 2013 Torchlight Prize Winner

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Community Group Honored for its Effort to Strengthen Community; Awarded $10,000 Prize

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Not only do we, the organizers of Camp Congo Square, see the importance of introducing rich traditions to youth, but now others who share a similar interest in inspiring youth and families have taken notice.

Camp Congo Square, a summer camp inspired to keep the rich history of New Orleans’ Congo Square alive, was today announced as a winner of the 2013 Torchlight Prize, awarded each year to up to four community groups by the national nonprofit, Family Independence Initiative.

Camp Congo Square was started in 2006 when a group of parents saw an opportunity to help children remember the heritage of their hometown of New Orleans after being displaced from their homes after Hurricane Katrina. The group came together to create a summer camp centered on the history of Congo Square, a historical place within New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong Park where enslaved Africans and Native Americans gathered on Sundays. The camp utilizes reading, writing, math, and open discussion to explore art concepts of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians, stilt-dancing, drumming, and African dance while building knowledge and respect for different values, views, and beliefs of people throughout history.

The Torchlight Prize was established in 2012 to recognize and invest in self-organized groups of families, friends, and community members who have come together in meaningful ways to strengthen their communities. Each Torchlight Prize winner exemplifies Family Independence Initiative’s belief that powerful, sustainable, and relevant results can be created for families and communities when everyday people work together by pooling ideas, resources, and efforts to create positive change in their own communities.

“Being recognized as a Torchlight Prize winner means that the goal of Camp Congo Square is being achieved,” said Naimah Zulu, one of the founders of the camp. “Not only do we, the organizers of Camp Congo Square, see the importance of introducing rich traditions to youth, but now others who share a similar interest in inspiring youth and families have taken notice.”

“We recognize and congratulate this year’s Torchlight Prize winners not only for their innovative approaches to building their communities but also for their unwavering passion and commitment to address some of the most pressing issues facing our nation” said Mauricio Lim Miller, founder and chief executive officer, Family Independence Initiative. “The spirit of community collaboration to drive impactful change is as alive today as ever, and these groups are perfect examples.”

Torchlight Prize winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of leaders from the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. The 2013 selection committee includes: Mauricio Lim Miller, founder and CEO, Family Independence Initiative; Michele Jolin, managing partner with America Achieves and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; Patty Stonsifer, president and CEO, Martha’s Table; Charles Ogletree, a Jesse Climenko professor of law at Harvard Law School and founder and executive director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School; Wes Moore, youth advocate, author, and host of “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network; and Daniel Boggan, former senior vice president and chief operating officer, National Collegiate Athletic Association.

To learn more about Camp Congo Square and the other three winners of this year’s Torchlight Prize, visit http://www.TorchlightPrize.org. To request an interview with Camp Congo Square, please contact Arron Neal at 213-568-3334 or arron(at)cfoxcommunications(dot)com.

ABOUT THE TORCHLIGHT PRIZE
Family Independence Initiative established the Torchlight Prize in 2012 to recognize and invest in groups of families, friends, and community members who have come together in meaningful ways to strengthen their communities. To be considered for the annual award, a group’s origins must be informal, and not initiated by an organization, nonprofit, or government program or service. In addition, winners must demonstrate a positive impact on their community, and they must live and act in the United States. The Prize is named after the Freedman’s Torchlight, one of the nation’s first black newspapers established in Weeksville, a self-sufficient and thriving community built by African Americans, for African Americans in New York before emancipation. Previous winners include Iu Mein Community, Club Social Infantil, and Black Dot Collective.

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Naimah Zulu
Camp Congo Square
504-266-2339
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Arron Neal
C.Fox Communications
213-568-3334
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