The University of Portland has been selected to host the 2018 Opus Prize, a $1 million annual award which recognizes individuals or organizations who address critical social issues within their communities.
The Opus Prize Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sponsors the Opus Prize, an annual, faith-based humanitarian award recognizing individuals internationally and domestically who are addressing persistent and pressing social problems within their communities. Each year, the Opus Prize Foundation chooses a Catholic university to serve as its partner in selecting the Opus Prize laureates and finalists. The award is one of the world's largest faith-based awards for social entrepreneurship, composed of one $1 million award and two $100,000 prizes.
"The University of Portland is honored and thrilled to serve as partner for the selection and presentation of the 2018 Opus Prize. The Opus Prize Foundation's focus on promoting faith-based social innovation aligns well with the University's commitment to challenge and inspire our students to positively impact the world," said University President Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C. "We are eager to host discussions and explore the world's critical needs, knowing the individuals we will meet will inspire us to reflect upon our roles in serving our communities. The year-long partnership of the 2018 Opus Prize with the University of Portland is an opportunity for campus conversation and community dialogue to promote answers to the question 'What does the world need more of?'"
The 2018 Opus Prize will consist of a year-long partnership with the University of Portland, providing unique opportunities for engagement that aim to inspire students, faculty and staff, and the greater Portland community. These partnerships are mutually beneficial, celebrating the work of faith-based social entrepreneurs around the world while inspiring the next generation of leaders to pursue lives of service.
The process will begin in Fall 2017, when the University will carry out an internal nomination process for the 2018 Opus Prize. UP alumni and friends locally and around the world will be asked to study the impact of unsung heroes in their communities and consider nominating them for the Opus Prize.
In January 2018, UP will convene an Opus Prize jury comprised of greater Portland faith and business leaders, innovators, and social entrepreneurs. The jury will consider the candidacy of each nominee and determine three finalists for the award.
During Spring 2018, the three finalists will be evaluated in the field by members of the Opus Prize Foundation, along with a delegation of UP students, faculty, and staff. These due diligence expeditions offer unique opportunities for members of the campus community to witness the powerful work of these agents for social change in action.
After the spring expeditions, the University will reciprocate by hosting all three finalists for a week-long celebration in Portland in November 2018. During the 2018 Opus Prize Week, the three finalists will be on the UP campus to visit classrooms and engage in conversation with the University community and the greater Portland community. This week will culminate in the Opus Prize Ceremony, when the $1 million award and two $100,000 prizes will be announced.
"Opus Prize laureates combine the spirit of innovation with amazing faith to inspire long-term, local solutions to address inequality and injustice," said Don Neureuther, Director of the Opus Foundation. "Opus Prize laureates prove change is possible, empowering and inspiring us all."
Previous recipients of the Opus Prize have come from different faith traditions, and the focus of their work is varied and deep. Among the many pursuits of justice and equality, these unsung heroes are tackling issues as urgent and impactful as freedom from human trafficking in Kolkata, India; helping individuals struggling with addiction and mental health issues in Sydney, Australia; creating a welcoming space for incarcerated mothers and their families in Long Island City, New York; and promoting higher education for refugees in Dzeleka Camp, Malawi.