We’re excited to announce our inaugural cohort of twenty-one Omega Resilience Award  Fellows from India, Latin America and Africa. We’ve been building towards this moment for over a year and collectively, we believe that these inspiring leaders drawn from diverse backgrounds will illuminate new pathways towards building resilient societies.

Mark Valentine, Chief Strategy Officer, Omega Resilience Award

Today Omega Resilience Awards, a program of the nonprofit Commonweal, announced the launch of their inaugural cohort of Fellows. The twenty-one Fellows, all based in the Global South, are thinkers, activists, and storytellers working across sectors and at many levels of society to address the global polycrisis. ORA has convened this Fellowship, which will be awarded annually and run for a three year cycle, in order to help develop new maps and narratives to help humanity navigate these unpredictable and volatile times.

Omega Resilience Awards, ORA, is an innovative catalytic grantmaking program. ORA was initiated in 2022, in direct response to the global polycrisis. They believe that we need new narratives to demystify the polycrisis and highlight the core components and features of resilient societies and communities. ORA is led by a small core team skilled in grantmaking, program design and execution, systems thinking, and communications. ORA works closely with global anchor partners Health of Mother Earth Foundation, STARTUP and Asociación Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas/CAJE, who have deep understanding of the polycrisis and resilience at the country and community level. 

Based in Benin City, Nigeria, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) believes in locally generated knowledge and practice, and the need for people-centered dialogues around critical environmental issues. They are focused on unearthing the systemic roots (social, political and economic factors) of environmental and food challenges. Their program areas include fossil fuels, food production and hunger, and sustainability. HOMEF has developed deep expertise in facilitating community dialogue and joint learning on complex issues related to the polycrisis.

The Fellows we have are an exceptional group of people who are immersed in movements across Africa…I really think that we have got a set of people who will bring value to the conversation on the root causes of the polycrisis and also bring about new expressions of how people should understand what is happening around them. Because a lot of people can’t figure out what is going on. And so we’re hoping that this set of fellows will help us unravel it – in a way that is easy to communicate and in a way that is able to make people not feel despondent about the crisis but feel energized to do something about it. Because we all are in the same boat, and we can all do something.

Nnimmo Bassey, Director, HOMEF

StartUp!, based in New Delhi, India, is an impact accelerator, ecosystem builder, and leadership springboard for social entrepreneurs. They launch and scale ventures that create lasting impact in underserved communities. Working across 17 states of India, Start Up! provides impact acceleration, leadership training, and advisory services to social entrepreneurs, civil society organizations, and other eco-system builders who could be at different stages in their lifecycle: seed, growth, scale, and maturity. Their services are geared to enable organizations and movements to drive large-scale systemic change. A cornerstone of their work lies in designing and leading fellowship programs.

The ORA India Fellowship has been the most unique of all the fellowship programs we have led. Though working in diverse fields, the India Fellows are held together by a few common strands. Their work is deeply intersectional and collaborative. Each one is building bridges between communities and groups that otherwise do not engage. Most importantly, the ORA India Fellows are moving away from the narrative of the apocalypse, and bringing fresh energy, optimism, and a deep sense of renewal in their sectors.

Manisha Gupta, Founder, StartUp!

Based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, AAdeAA/CAJE A works on issues of ecological and social justice. Their vision is to build and implement the institutional and legal frameworks necessary for socio-environmental justice to be understood as a structural pillar in the construction of societies. Through legal, legislative and communicational advocacy they support community based organizations throughout Argentina and much of South America.  They are committed to stopping the deepening ecological and climatic collapse while accelerating actions towards a comprehensive and just socio-ecological transition.

ORA is a beautiful and valuable opportunity to support projects that seek to generate awareness. We hope not only to strengthen the implementation of these ideas that, from resilience, seek to build consciousness, but also to create bonds and networks among individuals and groups from different parts of the world, to reinforce the concept of caring for and healing this whole of which we are a part, this unity to which we belong.

Sofía Nemenmann, Co-Director, Argentine Association of Environmental Lawyers/CAJE
After a year of virtual meeting, the ORA partners from India, Argentina, and Nigeria, who co-created the fellowship with the ORA team, gathered at Commonweal in Northern California in April 2023. Pictured: Michael Lerner, Co-founder Commonweal, Oren Slozberg, Executive Director, Commonweal; Gaston Chillier, AAdeAA/Caje, Anabella Museri, AAdeAA/CAJE, Nnimmo Bassey, HOMEF; Susan Grelock-Yusem, Commonweal. Photo Stanley Wu.

In addition to the fellowship, ORA administers a grantmaking program that funds organizations in the vanguard of mapping and framing narratives. ORA launched their first research grants in 2022 and their inaugural fellowship began in 2023. Each year they elect 21 new Fellows and make 10 research grants. In collaboration with the fellows and grantees, ORA weaves together new narratives and insights around the polycrisis and resilience. ORA is led by a distributed team working from North America and Europe with Fellows and research grantees working around the world, especially in the Global South.

For the next stage of the fellowship, ORA and the anchor partners will be launching a storytelling site to share field notes from the fellows’ work, as it unfolds. And they hope to announce the search for the 2024 cohort later this year.

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