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Jefferson Awards Foundation Honors Harry Belafonte, Laurie Hernandez, Peter Diamandis and Warby Parker as 2017 National Public Service Award Recipients

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - March 06, 2017) - The Jefferson Awards Foundation, the nation's most prestigious and longest-standing organization dedicated to powering and celebrating public service, will honor individuals, organizations and young people leading the nation in their commitment to social good at its annual gala in New York City. The ceremony, to be held on March 15, 2017, at Gotham Hall, will celebrate the foundation's 45-year history of inspiring action and multiplying service for maximum impact. Awards will honor lifetime, national and local achievements in driving change for their communities and worldwide.

"We believe in public service -- because it improves communities and it changes the lives of those who participate. For 45 years, we've honored America's greatest individuals and companies who are tackling the issues that matter most to them, changing their communities, our country and the world," said Hillary Schafer, CEO of the Jefferson Awards Foundation. "With this celebration, we thank the nation's top achievers and commend grassroots unsung heroes. By sharing their inspirational stories, we aim to empower others to take action and bring more good to our world."

At this year's ceremony, the Jefferson Awards Foundation will honor Harry Belafonte with the Lifetime Achievement Award. An award-winning musician, Belafonte has dedicated his life to utilizing his talent and notoriety to stand for social justice and use his platform to further the civil rights movement. He recently founded the Sankofa Justice & Equity Fund, a nonprofit that utilizes the power of culture and celebrity in partnership with activism. Belafonte has been a UNICEF goodwill ambassador since 1987 and has held board positions for multiple service organizations. Previous recipients of this prestigious award include Billie Jean King, Robert de Niro and Tom Brokaw.

Laurie Hernandez will be recognized for her outstanding efforts as a role model for today's youth. Her grit, determination and grace have inspired a generation of young women to reach for their dreams. As a member of the U.S. women's gymnastics team at the 2016 Summer Olympics, Hernandez won a gold medal in the team event and silver on the balance beam. She won the 23rd season of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" in 2016 and is currently the show's youngest winner. Hernandez will receive the award for Outstanding Service by a Young American 25 or Under. Youth recognized with this award in the past include Sophia Sanchez-Maes, Kid President and 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip.

Entrepreneur Peter H. Diamandis will be honored with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Outstanding Public Service by a Private Citizen. Diamandis founded the XPRIZE Foundation, the global leader in designing and implementing innovative competition models to solve the world's grandest challenges. XPRIZE's philosophy is that -- under the right circumstances -- igniting rapid experimentation from a variety of diverse lenses is the most efficient and effective method to driving exponential impact and solutions to grand challenges. Active competitions include the Google Lunar XPRIZE, NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, Global Learning XPRIZE, Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE, Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, Water Abundance XPRIZE and Anu and Naveen Women's Safety XPRIZE. Diamandis joins the ranks of Facebook founding president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker, comedian Bob Hope and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who have previously received this award.

Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa, co-founders and co-CEOs of Warby Parker, will accept the award for Outstanding Service by a Corporation. Warby Parker's game-changing "buy a pair, give a pair" business model has enabled the company to provide millions of pairs of glasses to those around the world with vision needs. For every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need, helping to increase productivity and income for people whose lack of access to glasses affects their ability to learn or work. Companies recognized with this award in past years include Salesforce, Target and Pfizer.

During the ceremony, the Jefferson Awards Foundation will also recognize Emma Stumpf, the 2017 winner of the LEAD360 contest, and present awards to the 2016 national activation winners. LEAD360 makes service easy-to-do, fun and accessible by seeking outstanding youth ideas and replicating the best nationwide. Diagnosed with brain cancer at a young age, Emma learned to cope with her illness by expressing herself through art, and her goal is to ensure kids of all ages have the tools they need to handle life stresses. Emma's LEAD360 big idea is to collect art supplies and distribute them to children in hospitals across the country. Emma was one of five 2017 finalists announced in February, and she was selected as the winner through an online vote. Her idea will be activated on a national level throughout the remainder of 2017. To date, LEAD360 has impacted more than 12 million lives. The 2016 activation winners are: First Third Bank, Braeden Mannering and Crossroads of America Council, Boy Scouts of America for activating Score On Hunger; DignityUWear for activating Survivor Packs; and Manhattan Bridges High School for activating Teddy-Grams for Troops.

The event is supported by Berenberg, Citi Foundation, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Jefferies & Co, National Football League, Tiger Legatus, Vayner Media, White & Case and more.

About the Jefferson Awards Foundation

The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) powers others to have maximum impact on the things they care about most. They are the largest multiplier of public service in America. Through celebration, they inspire action. With programs and partnerships, they drive Americans to change their communities and the world. They are celebrating 45 years of powering public service. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.org or engage with their community on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook.