Elijah McKinnon and Open Television Receive Third Annual Elevate Prize for Amplifying BIPOC and LGBTQ+ Experiences

The Elevate Prize Foundation just announced their next class of Elevate Prize winners and we have our eyes on Elijah McKinnon (they/them), in particular, who’s changing the way we perceive and engage with television with their nonprofit Open Television (OTV).

McKinnon and 11 other winners will split a $5 million award from the Elevate Prize Foundation’s third annual Elevate Prize used to apply towards solving various issues in society. Founded by Joseph Deitch in 2019, the foundation supports rising activists and social entrepreneurs with resources to increase the visibility and production of their work. 

Each changemaker will receive a minimum of $300,000 in funding, along with $200,000 worth of social media training, leadership development, and access to a pool of resources needed to enhance the quality and outreach of their work. 

“I realized I couldn’t not have them all,” Foundation chairman and founder Joseph Deitch said. “I want to work with them. I want to go on this journey with them. I just want them to reach their potential and they all just have massive potential and passion and purpose.”

Founded in 2015 by McKinnon and Dr. Aymar Jean Christian, the Chicago-based OTV is designed to foster a “thriving online and city-based platform for intersectional television, film, and video art”. With a mission rooted in artist development, community development, and research, OTV is ensuring that the voices of marginalized artists and voices are heard. 

As OTV’s executive director, McKinnon brings a decade of experience amplifying the voices and experiences of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ identified individuals. They’ve used their platform to help raise $10 million towards supporting marginalized communities and build resources that champion human rights, mental & behavioral health, HIV/AIDS, education and intersectional representation in the media.

Photo credit: Courtney Creative PR and Consulting

“It is an honor to be recognized by a foundation that truly values my unique approach to leadership and fierce commitment to building alternative ecosystems for intersectional people to thrive,” said McKinnon. “The Elevate Prize provides a reminder to those who reside at the corner of change and equity that we are more than our labor. I’m beyond proud to be a part of a global cohort that believes in a future filled with bravery and compassion. I look forward to building, learning and sharing continuums of care that help us to elevate and amplify all of the good that resides in this world.” 

Previous recipients of this award also include Trevor Noah, for his work with The Trevor Noah Foundation, and Amal and George Clooney, for their work with The Clooney Foundation for Justice. Now, McKinnon and the rest of their cohort join other global changemakers as they work to eradicate various social injustices and elevate the voices of those working with them to do so. 

“Art and media play a huge role in sharing various identities, cultures, and perspectives,” said McKinnon. “This content provides a vehicle that allows us to reach across time and space to learn better ways of coexisting. OTV is an incubator for these types of narratives and I can’t wait to share the exciting dreams we’re going to accomplish through our relationship with The  Elevate Prize Foundation.”

Here’s the full list of Elevate Prize winners below: 

  1. Atif Javed, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Tarjimly
  2. Bianca Tylek, Founder and Executive Director, Worth Rises 
  3. Cindy Eggleton, Co-Founder and CEO, Brilliant Detroit
  4. Crystal Echo Hawk, Founder and Executive Director, IllumiNative
  5. Cynthia Fast, Head of Training & Behavioral Research, APOPO
  6. Elijah McKinnon, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Open Television (OTV)
  7. Namya Mahajan, Co-Founder, Rocket Learning
  8. Nelly Cheboi, CEO and Founder, TechLit Africa
  9. Piyush Tewari, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SaveLIFE Foundation
  10. Rachel Silverstein, Executive Director, Miami Waterkeeper
  11. Sana Mustafa, CEO, Asylum Access
  12. Teresa Wanjiku Njoroge, Founder and CEO, Clean Start

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