The Puffin Foundation Ltd. and Type Media Center are the mutual sponsors of an annual award in the amount of $100,000 given to an individual who has challenged the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative and socially responsible work of significance. Candidates are to be found in a broad range of occupations and pursuits, including academia, journalism, public health, literature, art, the environmental sciences, labor and the humanities. The prize is intended to encourage the recipients to continue their work, and to inspire others to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies they face in their careers.
A Joint Project Between
2018 Parkland Students — The Students, in partnership with young activists across the country, founded the March for Our Lives to end gun violence and challenge the complacency of lawmakers.
2017 Colin Kaepernick — During the previous year’s NFL pre-season, the then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback began refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem in protest of racism and police violence.
2016 Bryan Stevenson — An acclaimed public interest lawyer who led the EJI to win major legal challenges to unfair sentencing, exonerate innocent death row prisoners, confront abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aid children prosecuted as adults.
2015 William J. Barber II — A Protestant minister and NAACP board member, he was the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday movement, an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations in North Carolina.
2014 Frances Fox Piven — A renowned social scientist, scholar, and activist whose commitment to poor and working people has bridged academia and social activism.
2013 Barry W. Lynn — Under his leadership, Americans United engaged in court challenges and public education on issues ranging from reproductive rights to school vouchers and judicial nominations.
2012 Benjamin Todd Jealous — As the youngest person to lead the NAACP, he invigorated civil rights by building new alliances across progressive communities.
2011 Tony Kushner — A playwright and screenwriter, his activism and artistic work has given voice to the marginalized and explored the most challenging issues of the previous fifty years.
2010 Cecile Richards & Bill McKibben — This was the first year the prize was awarded to two winners. Richards is a leader in national progressive politics who served as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 2006 to 2018, and McKibben is an environmentalist and author who writes about global warming, alternative energy, and advocates for localized economies.
2009 Jim Hightower — Twice elected Texas agriculture commissioner, Hightower was praised for nurturing organic production, promoting alternative crops, regulating pesticides and monitoring groundwater.
2008 Van Jones — Founder and president of Green For All, a national advocacy organization committed to building an inclusive, green economy to lift millions of people out of poverty.
2007 Michael Ratner — A defenders of human rights and civil liberties, he repeatedly challenged the Bush administration on the constitutionality of indefinite detention and restrictions on domestic civil liberties.
2006 Amy Goodman — Host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, she was honored for her ground-breaking reporting and commitment to questioning those in power on behalf of those who rarely have a voice in the mainstream media.
2005 Jonathan Kozol — An educator and author, Kozol was recognized for exposing socioeconomic and racial inequities in the public education system.
2004 Barbara Ehrenreich — A political activist and prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America, she is known for her work exposing the day-to-day indignities endured by the nation’s working poor.
2003 David Protess — The founding director of the Innocence Project, he was at the forefront of a nationwide movement to exonerate innocent death row prisoners.
2002 Dolores Huerta — A lifelong human rights activist and co-founder, along with César Chavez, of the United Farm Workers Union.
2001 Robert Parris Moses — A social activist, civil rights pioneer, and founder of the Algebra Project, a mathematics literacy effort aimed at helping low-income students and students of color.
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