Brandon Calloway and Rachel Jefferson Receive Annual $100,000 Pinnacle Prize
KANSAS CITY – Brandon Calloway and Rachel Jefferson are recipients of the 2022 Pinnacle Prize. Presented annually, the prize is awarded to two Kansas Citians, 40 and under, who are working to strengthen communities that face socioeconomic challenges. Winners are nominated by local leaders throughout the Kansas City area and chosen by a select committee of city leaders. This $100,000 prize comes with no conditions or caveats, rather it is focused on celebrating and empowering young leaders who are committed to making a consequential impact for Kansas City and all the people who call it home.
Brandon Calloway is a Co-Founder and CEO of Generating Income for Tomorrow (G.I.F.T.). He is a veteran of the US Army and a former health and fitness trainer. He started his own fitness business before transitioning to nonprofit work with the United Way of Greater Kansas City in 2018. Brandon co-founded G.I.F.T. in 2020 to address the substantial racial wealth gap in Kansas City.
G.I.F.T. was founded as an actionable step to support community engagement after the rise in protests in 2020. The nonprofit organization focuses on investing in locally owned black business in Kansas City’s lowest income areas. The organization says that historic redlining, discriminatory lending practices and lack of financial education services have contributed to the racial wealth disparity in our community.
As Co-Founder and CEO of G.I.F.T., Calloway is committed to building up the community by providing black businesses with financial support funded by individuals in the community and corporation and foundation contributions. The grants serve to help black businesses operate and grow, generate new jobs, promote local economic growth, and make meaningful positive changes in the community.
Rachel Jeffersonis the Executive Director of Groundwork Northeast Revitalization Group (Groundwork NRG), formerly known as the Historic Northeast-Midtown Association. As Executive Director, she leads the organization in its efforts to champion economic, environmental and food sovereignty, cultural identity and belonging to the community in Northeast Kansas City, Kansas. Groundwork NRG connects local community members with programs, resources, projects and organizations to continue to develop the historic district.
As a resident of northeast Kansas City, Jefferson sees the impact redlining, predatory businesses and lack of community intervention has on the local environment every day. As Executive Director of Groundwork NRG, she is committed to making meaningful changes to create an equitable Kansas City for all.
Jefferson is also the President of Isaac Eugene Jefferson Farms, partnering with local youth and community groups to promote sustainable agriculture in the downtown area of Kansas City, Kansas. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
“Brandon and Rachel represent the very best young leaders our region can hope to offer,” Maurice Watson, spokesperson for The Pinnacle Prize said. “They are special products of the communities they now serve, both leaving Kansas City to acquire knowledge and skills beyond their neighborhoods and returning to put what they learned to work in revitalizing their hometown. Brandon grew up in the urban core and is motivated to make social and economic conditions better than those he experienced as a youngster by attracting economic investment. Rachel left her community to attend college in the East and returned to northeast KCK with a passion and commitment to redress environmental perils in her neighborhood.”
Previous recipients of The Pinnacle Prize include the 2021 inaugural winners Tricia Rojo Bushnell and Tara Raghuveer.
Tricia Rojo Bushnell is the Executive Director of the Midwest Innocence Project which works to free wrongly convicted people through pro-bono legal assistance. She also serves as the current president of the Innocence Network, an affiliation of 68 innocence organizations around the world. She manages the Midwest Innocence Program and serves as its lead attorney having represented numerous individuals since 2019.
Tara Raghuveer is the Director and Co-Founder of KC Tenants, a city-wide tenants union led by a multigenerational, multiracial, anti-racist base of poor and working-class tenants advocating for safe, accessible, and truly affordable housing in Kansas City. The organization wrote and won a tenants’ bill of rights and fought against a major out-of-town evictor. In 2020 and 2021, KC Tenants earned city funding for their bill of rights, secured a local eviction moratorium, established a tenant abuse hotline, developed the People’s Housing Trust Fund, and intervened in thousands of eviction cases.
About the Pinnacle Prize
The Pinnacle Prize was founded in 2021 by G. Kenneth and Ann Baum, a couple who grew up in Kansas City and generously supported the local arts, education and environmental conservation. The Baums created the Pinnacle Prize with a civic spirit to help Kansas City reach its fullest potential by investing in passionate, dedicated leaders 40 and under working to improve the quality of life for all Kansas Citians, especially those who need help the most. By celebrating these visionaries and spurring them on to future successes, the Pinnacle Prize aims to change the future trajectory of the Kansas City community for the better. Learn more at pinnacleprizekc.org.