News and Announcements / News and Announcements

The Rockefeller Foundation Asks New York City to Nominate Next Jane Jacobs Medal Recipients

NEW YORK—The Rockefeller Foundation announced today that it is opening the public nominating process for the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal—awarded to two living individuals whose creative vision for the urban environment has significantly contributed to the vibrancy and variety of New York City. The nominations can come from anyone and should be made at from today through May 4, 2012.

Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Jane Jacobs Medal was created by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2007 to honor activist, author and urbanist, Jane Jacobs, who died in April 2006 at the age of 89. The Foundation’s relationship with Jane Jacobs dates back to the 1950s, when it launched an Urban Design Studies program that helped foster the emergence of the new discipline of urban design and theory. As part of this initiative, one of the Foundation’s first grants was to the then-obscure writer from Greenwich Village, for the research and writing of her seminal book, the Death and Life of Great American Cities.

The Foundation is looking for nominees for two different awards—one for lifetime leadership and one for new ideas and activism—that demonstrate any or all of the following qualities:

  • Open our eyes to a new way of seeing and understanding New York City
  • Generate a new way to think about the development and the preservation of urban environments—specifically in New York City
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to how we think about neighborhoods and leadership for how we solve the problems within them

Some previous recipients of the Jane Jacobs Medal include 2007 lifetime leadership winner Barry Benepe, co-founder of Greenmarket, who saw the opportunity to merge the economic needs of struggling local farmers with the need for fresh and affordable produce in New York City.  Today, Greenmarket is the largest farmer’s market program in the U.S., serving nearly 100,000 people a week.  The Jane Jacobs 2008 medal for new ideas and activism was awarded to Alexie Torres-Fleming, founder of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ) in the South Bronx for her commitment to the power behind organizing the youth of a community to become the next generation of activists and the leading voices for peace and justice.  The Jane Jacobs 2009 medal for new ideas and activism was awarded to Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), for her work through GOLES to preserve housing, tenant’s rights and economic viability.  The Jane Jacobs 2010 medal for new ideas and activism was awarded to Joshua David and Robert Hammond, co-founders of Friends of the Highline for their vision and collaboration in transforming the once derelict High Line elevated railroad into one of New York City’s most unique parks.  Last year the Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership was given to Jane Rosenthal and Robert DeNiro for their founding of Tribeca Film Institute and the economic opportunity created by the spurring of the television and film production industry in New York City.  The 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism was shared between NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Jeanette Sadik-Khan and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White for their transformation of the city streets to better enable and encourage walking and bicycling-riding.

“Over fifty years ago, The Rockefeller Foundation was proud to support Jane Jacobs’ vision and activism in transforming her own neighborhood and subsequently the way we all now look at urban planning,” said Edwin Torres, Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation.  “As we approach our 100-year anniversary, we further this legacy by supporting innovators in realizing the equitable future we want to see.”

The 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal will be accompanied by prizes totaling $200,000. The selection of the Jane Jacobs Medal winners and allocation of the prize money will be determined by the members of the Jane Jacobs Medal Selection Jury. The Jury is chaired by Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin and includes Reggie Van Lee, Executive VP of Booz Allen Hamilton; Susan Freedman, President of the Public Art Fund; Bruce Nussbaum, assistant managing editor in charge of BusinessWeek magazine’s innovation and design coverage and Associate Professor of Design and Innovation at Parsons The New School for Design; and 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for lifetime leadership winner Richard Kahan, Founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly.

The 2012 Rockefeller Foundation Jane Jacobs Medal winners will be announced in July of this year.  The Medals will be awarded to the recipients at a reception in Autumn 2012.

Since 2007, the Jane Jacobs Medal has been administered by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).  In conjunction with the Jane Jacobs Medal, and with the goal of expanding public appreciation of the work and legacy of this pioneering activist, MAS sponsors related walking tours and the annual Jane Jacobs Forum.

More information on the 2012 Jane Jacobs Medal is available at the Rockefeller Foundation website at

The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913.  Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization.  Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered.  To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work.  First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses.  Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives.  In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact.  These initiatives address challenges that lie either within or at the intersections of five issue areas: basic survival safeguards, global health, environment and climate change, urbanization, and social and economic security.  For more information, please visit

Municipal Art Society
The Municipal Art Society of New York, founded in 1893, is a non-profit membership organization that fights for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation through education, dialogue and advocacy. For more information, visit


For Media Inquiries
Laura Gordon, The Rockefeller Foundation, 212-852-8216,