The Goi Peace Foundation will bestow the 2011 Goi Peace Award on Bill Strickland, social innovator and president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp.—an extraordinary jobs training center and community arts program, which gives disadvantaged students and adults the opportunities they need to build a better future. The annual Goi Peace Award honors individuals and organizations in various fields that have made outstanding contributions toward the realization of a peaceful and harmonious world for humanity and all life on earth.
Created in 2000, previous Goi Peace Award recipients include Oscar Arias, Bill Drayton, Bill Gates and Deepak Chopra.
Strickland will receive the award at a ceremony during the Goi Peace Foundation Forum 2011 to be held at Ginza Blossom Hall in Tokyo Nov. 19.
The selection committee has chosen Bill Strickland for the Goi Peace Award “in recognition of his visionary social work to help the underserved population transform their lives. By offering innovative educational and cultural opportunities with emphasis on the arts, beauty and respect, he has empowered thousands of youth and adults to restore hope and dignity and become creative contributors to their communities. The example of his own life and successful career has inspired others to dream bigger and make a difference in the world.”
Bill Strickland was born in 1947 and grew up in an inner-city neighborhood of Pittsburgh in the United States. His life changed when he was introduced to pottery throwing by his high school art teacher, who became his mentor and helped him obtain entrance to the University of Pittsburgh.
Building on his personal experience, Strickland founded Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild while still in college in 1968 to bring arts education and mentorship to inner city youth in his neighborhood. The MCG Youth & Arts program, as it is now called, serves public school students by offering courses in ceramics, design, digital and photography studios. Gaining self-confidence, more than 80 percent of the students in the program complete high school and attend college.
In 1972, Strickland assumed leadership of a struggling vocational school. Today, Bidwell Training Center provides market-driven career education created through strong partnerships with leading local industries. It offers disadvantaged adults tuition-free training programs in fields as varied as culinary arts, chemical laboratory technologies, medical, and horticulture, with job placement rates that rival most universities.
Manchester Bidwell, a nonprofit corporation with these two main operations, has proven to be a successful model for social change. With his simple philosophy that environment shapes people’s lives, Strickland has created a world-class institute with an empowering atmosphere of art, light, music and respect to realize the genius in everyone. His model has been replicated in San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Grand Rapids, Michigan, with more being planned in other cities and countries.
Throughout Strickland’s distinguished career, he has been honored with numerous prestigious awards for his contributions to the arts and the community, including the MacArthur “genius award.” He is the author of Making the Impossible Possible, which includes his story of how a kid from Pittsburgh’s ghetto would go on to lecture at Harvard and serve on the board of the National Endowment of the Arts. He is also founder of the Grammy-winning MCG Jazz, the most successful jazz subscription series in America, and currently a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions appointed by President Obama.