RYSE Center named finalist for $500K Accelerator Award

RYSE Youth Center named finalist for $500K Accelerator Award
The RYSE Youth Center at Bissell Avenue and 41st Street. (Photo by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

RYSE Center Executive Director Kimberly Aceves-Iñiguez and Associate Director Kanwarpal Dhaliwal have been named among the eight finalists for The Lewis Prize for Music annual Accelerator Awards.

The $500,000 awards honor leaders nationwide who are creating positive change through youth music programs. Of the finalists, three winners will be announced Tues., Jan. 11, 2022.

The Lewis Prize for Music said in a statement that, in supporting the work of music leaders throughout the country, it aims to inspire collaboration among other partners to ensure youth have the opportunity “to access transformative music learning, performance and creation.”

RYSE—which serves more than 700 youth annually, 98 percent of whom are people of color and those  originating from at-risk backgrounds—looks to hold “safe spaces made for and led by West Contra Costa youth” said the statement.

Its Media, Arts, & Culture department, of particular relevance to the Accelerator Awards, empowers youth to express themselves via the creation of expressive art “to promote personal healing and dismantle an often dismissive narrative about young people,” per the statement. Other departmental offerings focus on community health, education and career, youth justice and youth organizing.

Joining RYSE as finalists for The Lewis Prize for Music Accelerator Awards are: INTEMPO, Stamford, CT; Media Rhythm Institute, Baltimore, MD; The Heartbeat Music Project, Navajo Nation Reservation; The Roots of Music, New Orleans, LA; Totem Star, Seattle, WA; We Are Culture Creators, Detroit, MI; and White Hall Arts Academy, Los Angeles, CA.

Daniel R. Lewis founded The Lewis Prize for Music in 2018 as a philanthropic music arts organization advancing systems change through creative youth development. He said the finalists’ “multifaceted commitment to young people…stands out as the model for 21st century artistry and activism.”

Lewis added that they are “natural initiators of equitable systems change” spanning education, foster care, justice, workforce development and other youth-oriented systems.

Learn more about RYSE Youth Center here and The Lewis Prize for Music here.