Tonight, PowerOn held its second annual PowerOn Awards Ceremony, an event to recognize program participants and supporters dedicated to keeping LGBTQ+ communities connected. This year’s event was held virtually, streaming on Zoom and Facebook Live, to allow maximum attendance while abiding by COVID-19 guidelines, and featured testimonials from partner centers, updates on the program's accomplishments, and even some giveaways at the end of the ceremony.
Three of the PowerOn partners featured during the ceremony were Waves Ahead in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Metro Inclusive Health in Florida's Tampa Bay area; and the Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center in Newburgh, NY. Each center shared how tech has helped them better serve LGBTQ+ people in their geographic areas, as well as the specific needs those areas face. From completing the census on cellphones in San Juan, to providing telehealth services in Tampa, to helping pay internet bills in Newburgh, centers like these have been working overtime to keep LGBTQ+ people connected.
"Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community does experience a lot of isolation," says Cole Foust, LGBTQ+ Division Manager at Metro Inclusive Health, "and so tech definitely helps connect people and helps people stay connected."
This year, PowerOn has been working harder than ever during COVID-19 to support our partner organizations, offering centers emergency tech for their staff converting to working from home. The program also offered individual HIPAA-compliant Zoom licenses to partner organizations rather than in the usual required minimum of 10 licenses. To date, this nascent program has allowed 38 users over 12 centers to conduct 3,171 meetings.
Of course, the highlight of any awards ceremony comes down to the awards themselves - the accomplishments they signify as well as the people and organizations who receive them. Keep reading to find out who won at this year's PowerOn Awards Ceremony.
The Visionary Award, honoring an individual or individuals whose work has empowered LGBTQ+ individuals to achieve success through technology and the internet, was presented to Kelli and Jacques van Gool of Houston, TX and Staunton, VA for their longtime support of PowerOn’s efforts.
The Change Agent Award, honoring an individual in public service or social justice whose significant contributions to connectivity have helped support underserved populations, including the LGBTQ+ community, was presented to Dr. Nicol Turner Lee, Director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.
The Superstar Center Award, honoring a PowerOn partner center or organization that has made outstanding contributions to the program and to the community the organization serves, was presented to Triangle Community Center of Norwalk, CT with a runner up award presented to Kaleidoscope Youth Center of Columbus, OH.
The Role Model Award, honoring a youth or young adult who set the bar for themselves and their peers while participating in the PowerOn Program, was presented to Jordan Paris of Triangle Community Center, with a runner up award presented to Mackenzie Williams of OUTMemphis.
Video of the 2020 PowerOn Awards Ceremony will be available at a later time.