THEM CLOUD KIDS ARE TAKING THEIR 30 UNDER 30 AWARDS STATEWIDE THIS YEAR. HOW TO NOMINATE A HIGH FLYER
Published July 31, 2017 | Andaiye Taylor
If you or someone you know is under 30, doing impactful work in the state, and achieving it with grace, there will soon be an opportunity for that work to get the recognition it deserves.
Newark-based youth empowerment non-profit Them Cloud Kids are following up 2016’s first annual Ubuntu Awards, the sold-out event where they honored 30 accomplished Newarkers under the age of 30, by calling for nominations from all across the state of New Jersey this year.
Ubuntu is a South African concept that signifies humanity, compassion and kindness, and it underlies the work of Them Cloud Kids. Founded at Rutgers-Newark, where the student group achieved non-profit status in 2013, one of Them Cloud Kids’ goals is to bridge the gap between Newark’s college youth and the city and do it with a spirit of sincere goodwill and partnership—something the group has already achieved through a diverse array of programming and community collaborations. The purpose of the awards is to recognize others who embody the spirit of Ubuntu in their work.
“Our logo is one person pulling another up above the clouds to reach for the stars,” said Jewell Palmer, co-founder and co-president (along with Shane Fuller) of Them Cloud Kids, not long after last year’s Ubuntu Awards wrapped up. “We acknowledge the mindset of crabs in a barrel and try to teach people how to uplift each other [instead].”
The 2016 award recipients were honored at a gala fundraiser held at Rutgers-Newark’s Great Hall at 15 Washington Street last November.
“It was literally the perfect night,” Jewell told me a few days after the event, describing how proud the organization was of the solid five months’ worth of planning and collaboration required to pull it off, and how organized and well-oiled they were day of. “The power to galvanize an intergenerational group of purposeful people was amazing,” she continued.
This year, Them Cloud Kids widened eligibility for the awards to the entire state. People are invited to nominate those who have used their skills to impact their communities in each of the nomination categories.
Since their founding at Rutgers-Newark, Them Cloud Kids has undertaken a number of consistent community service activities. They’ve offered a cultural curriculum at Newark’s H.U.B.B. and ran a books and breakfast program sponsored by Newark Celebration 350. Their Help Us, Help Us program saw them pack 500 bag lunches filled with sandwiches, water, napkins and fruit, topped off with positive written affirmations, and distributed at Newark YMCA and Newark Penn Station. They also host arts, culture and discussion events like open mics, cyphers and their Cloudy Thoughts forum series.
“We’re bridging the gap between college students, community members and community youth,” Jewell told me. “A lot of college students are terrified of the community off-campus, and some youth don’t know there’s a college,” she said, noting the disjunction between the city’s colleges and residential communities.
The Ubuntu Awards are a fundraiser for these and more of the organization’s community programming throughout the year. This year, Them Cloud Kids also wants to secure a dedicated space in the city from which to run their programs and initiatives.
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