Rockefeller Foundation Honors Jane Jacobs Medalists

It might have come months later than expected thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but in mid-March, the Rockefeller Foundation honored its 2012 Jane Jacobs Medals winners. (See Rockefeller Foundation: Grants for New York City).

Ronald Shiffman, Rosanne Haggerty, Carl Skelton, and ioby co-founders Erin Barnes, Brandon Whitney, and Cassie Flynn were awarded the medals for their work in several issues areas facing NYC communities. The winners received a cash prize.

"The Rockefeller Foundation's Jane Jacobs Medals recognize New Yorkers who use the urban environment to build a more equitable city for everyone, and this year's winners embody the very best of Jane Jacobs by working to give a voice to every resident," Dr. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said in a statement.

"As our community continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, it is important to celebrate the leadership and innovation of each of the honorees, who have helped create a strong and resilient city through their work," Rodin added.

The Jane Jacobs Medal awards were created by the foundation in 2007. Jacobs was an author and activist who received a grant from the foundation in 1950s to write The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which remains an influential book on urban development. She died in 2006, and the awards were created in her honor.

Lifetime Achievement awardee Ronald Shiffman is a longtime community activist, as he has spent more than 50 years seeking to empower local communities. Shiffman is a co-founder of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, which began in the 1960s and continues to build support for low- and moderate-income New York communities.  

Recently, Shiffman has been an advisor for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, an organization that seeks to give communities a voice in the urban development and planning process. He donated $50,000 of his award to the New York Community Trust.

The foundation granted the award to Shiffman "for his tireless pursuit of, and belief in, the power of community-based groups to change the makeup of New York City for the better," the statement said. (Read The Rockefeller Foundation associate director, Edwin Torres' IP profile).

Rosanne Haggerty has long been in involved in housing development projects that seek to end homelessness. Common Ground — a nonprofit housing organization that provides shelters for homeless adults — was founded by Haggerty in the early 1990s, and through the program, more than 4,000 people have been assisted in overcoming homelessness. Recently, Haggerty established Community Solutions, a national organization that helps communities bring an end to homelessness.

Carl Skelton's work has focused on bridging the arts, design, technology, and community engagement disciplines for NYC's communities. Skelton developed Betaville, "an open-source multiplayer environment for real cities, in which ideas for new works of public art, architecture, urban design and development can be shared, discussed, tweaked, and brought to maturity with broad participation."

And the three co-founders of ioby built a micro-financing network to help bring sunlight, open space, fresh food, and greenery IOBY (in our backyards). Ioby has made grants of $262,640 for projects throughout the region.

The Jane Jacob awards are just one way Rockefeller provides grants in New York City. The foundation is also a leading funder of Opportunity NYC, which works to empower low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers. Rockefeller also makes grants out of their NYC Cultural Fund. 

The two-year grants range from $50,000 to $250,000 and are made to artists and organizations for "groundbreaking creative work that enriches the city's cultural life and strengthens the role that the arts will play in the future of New York."