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Meet the Brooklyn winners of The David Prize: creative talent advocate Geneva White and investigative journalist Mark Griffith

black and white photos of 2022 david prize winners from brooklyn
Two Brooklynites — Geneva White (left) and Mark Winston Griffith (right) — are among the 2022 winners of The David Prize.
Photos courtesy of The David Prize/Facebook

Winners have been announced. After a months-long nomination and consideration process — plus lifetimes of public service work — the winners of the 2022 David Prize are up. Five New Yorkers have each been awarded $200,000 in cash to boost their mission of making New York City better.

Dozens of New Yorkers from across the five borough nominated each year. This year’s winners are:

  • Mark Winston Griffith; executive editor of Brooklyn Deep, an investigative journalism project on stories from central Brooklyn.
  • Geneva White; founder of Scope of Work (SOW), a talent agency for people of color.
  • Jason Gibson; founder of Hood Code, a coding school for children living in public housing.
  • Dianna Rose; executive director of Essential Kitchen Co, a shared commercial kitchen space for food entrepreneurs.
  • David Shalleck-Klein; director and founder of Family Justice Law Center, an organization that seeks justice for families mistreated by the child welfare system.

“We take into consideration what New York needs most every year when we choose who to fund,” said Erika Boll, David Prize executive director, in an interview with the Brooklyn Paper in September. 

The prize is named after billionaire real estate developer David C. Walentas, founder of Dumbo real estate company Two Trees. Walentas and Two Trees are best known for spearheading the transformation of Dumbo from a largely-industrial area to a thriving — and pricey — neighborhood. Jed Walentas, David’s son, established the David Prize in October 2020. 

This year, eight Brooklynites were nominated out of 18 New Yorkers, hoping to win funds for projects including expanding a lab that provides 3-D maps and other resources for blind and vision-impaired New Yorkers, establishing an eviction fund for families who are removed from their homes, and building a consulting firm that works with businesses hoping to build inclusive workplaces. 

One Brooklyn based winner, Geneva White of Scope of Work, is working on building a more equitable creative industry. After the NYC Department of Education cut its citywide budget for middle and high school arts education by 70% to just $6 million in 2021, White dedicated herself to create artistic career pathways in districts serving mainly Black, Indigenous and other students of color.

Now, with the David Prize, she is looking to take operations from fully-virtual to hybrid by investing in a space to establish a physical headquarters for SOW in 2023.

“The goal is to be able to offer a library where people can access software, design and art books, have an equipment closet for cameras or computers,” said White. “We are really excited to open our doors and meet with young people face to face for portfolio reviews, feedback on their resume, do mockup interviews and to let them work collaboratively.”

Scope of Work has 150 members per year, including photographers, illustrators, designers, artists and more. The agency aims to create direct pipelines for young creatives to connect with early-career opportunities and paying jobs in the industry.

david prize sign
Each of the five winners of The David Prize is granted $200,000 to continue their work trying to make New York City a better, fairer place to live. Courtesy of The David Prize/Facebook

Another Brooklyn winner, investigative journalist Mark Winston Griffith, has been organizing neighbors since the 80s. Over 20 years ago, Griffith built a community credit union for low-income Central Brooklyn residents.

His more recent endeavors include the production of the award-winning documentary podcast, School Colors, and building platforms to tell “complicated stories about neighborhood change,” he said in an interview with the David Prize.

“If I was running newsrooms, you’d have more people who were born and raised in New York City, who were able to take more time and care through stories, who would aspire to tell complicated stories with nuance, understand live in the city with all its contradictions,” said Griffith.

His project “Brooklyn Deep” aims to let long-term residents tell stories and publish investigative news stories and data that chronicle neighborhood change and bring transparency to the exercise of institutional power. In 2023, Griffith will join the staff of The City news agency where he will incubate and expand his vision.

Nominations for next year’s prize are now open.

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