Aurora to Refocus Prize on Immediate Crises

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has announced the adjustment of the structure of its flagship program, the Aurora Prize. From 2022 onwards, half of the Prize award will be directed by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative to combat one of the worst humanitarian crises where human suffering requires urgent intervention. In addition, this year, considering the acute needs of the people of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) affected by the 2020 war, Aurora will recommend the 2021 Aurora Prize Laureate to direct $250,000 (or 25%) of the award funds to addressing urgent humanitarian issues in Artsakh. The Aurora Co-Founders are committed to matching this contribution to bring the total amount to $500,000.

Since its inception in 2016, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has awarded an annual Aurora Prize of $1M to outstanding individuals in recognition of their humanitarian work. The Prize is a unique form of Gratitude in Action: its recipients continue the cycle of giving by donating 90% of the award to the organizations that help people in need.

Five years on, the Committee that oversees the Prize has, in consultation with the Aurora Laureates, decided to adjust its structure to better reflect the reality of ongoing global humanitarian crises. The decision on where to direct the funding will be made by the Aurora Laureates together with the Aurora Prize Committee and the Initiative’s Co-Founders.

“As someone who has spent many years working in the midst of an ongoing humanitarian crisis in a conflict zone, I am aware of how badly help is needed there. That is why I am fully supportive of the decision to prioritize addressing such issues and supporting the people who fight them,” noted Dr. Tom Catena, 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate and Chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.

At the final stage, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will work with the most recent Laureate to choose or develop up to three projects to be supported or launched with the $500,000 share of the Aurora Prize award in the selected crisis area. The remaining $500,000 of the Aurora Prize award will be distributed in accordance with the Gratitude in Action principle – the next Aurora Prize Laureate will receive a grant and the rest of the funding is to be divided between up to three humanitarian organizations that help people in need in proportions proposed by the Laureate.

The 2021 Aurora Prize Ceremony and accompanying events will take place in Venice, Italy, on October 8-10, 2021, whereas nominations are currently open for the 2022 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Until October 31, 2021, any person can submit a nomination for candidates they believe have overcome great personal challenges to help others.

About the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is a foundation that seeks to address on-the-ground humanitarian challenges around the world with the focus on helping the most destitute. Its mission is rooted in the Armenian history as the Initiative was founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors and strives to transform this experience into a global movement.

All Aurora’s activities are based on the universal concept of Gratitude in Action. It implies that countless people around the world who have received aid in time of crisis can best express their gratitude by offering similar assistance to someone else. By involving Aurora supporters around the world, this will become a global endeavor that will snowball to expand the circle of saviors and most importantly – the number of those saved.

Addressing urgent humanitarian challenges, the Initiative provides a second chance to those who need it the most. True to its vision – “We believe that even in the darkest times, a brighter future is in the hands of those who are committed to giving others help and hope” – Aurora welcomes all who embrace this philosophy.

This commitment aims to promote action-based philanthropy focused on tangible results. This is achieved through the Initiative’s various programs: Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, Aurora for Artsakh, #AraratChallenge movement, Aurora Dialogues, Aurora Grants, Aurora Community, Aurora Index, and the 100 LIVES Initiative.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by thousands of supporters and partners. Aurora’s Chair, Dr. Tom Catena, draws on his experience as a surgeon, veteran, humanitarian and the 2017 Aurora Prize laureate to spread the message of Gratitude in Action to a global audience.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations – the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York, USA), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Charitable Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia).

About the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity

The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is a global humanitarian award. Its mission is to recognize and support those who risk their own lives, health or freedom to save the lives, health or freedom of others suffering as a result of violent conflict, atrocity crimes or other major human rights violations. The Aurora Prize Laureate is selected based on the nominee’s demonstration of courage, commitment and impact.

On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate is honored with a US $1,000,000 award, which gives the Laureate a unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by supporting the organizations that help people in need.

The Aurora Prize Selection Committee is comprised of Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; Médecins Sans Frontières Co-founder and former foreign minister of France Bernard Kouchner; journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Dele Olojede, former CEO of Unilever and Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE Paul Polman; human rights activist and Co-founder of The Sentry John Prendergast and President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian. The Committee is chaired by the Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi.

World famous peace and human rights activist Benjamin Ferencz and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney are the Committee’s Honorary Co-Chairs, and its honorary members include two-time President of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias; Artistic and General Director of Mariinsky Theatre and Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker Valery Gergiev and former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans.

We honor the memory of Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), inaugural Selection Committee Co-Chair, President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate.