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Seattle University in Partnership With the Opus Prize Foundation Award $1 Million Opus Prize

SEATTLE, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Seattle University and the Opus Prize Foundation today awarded the $1 million Opus Prize to Marguerite "Maggy" Barankitse for her work providing safe havens to 30,000 child victims of ethnic strife in Burundi, Africa. Two $100,000 winners also were honored. Michael Woodard, founder of Jubilee House Community and Center for the Development of Central America, who has spent 15 years creating self-sufficiency from poverty in Nicaragua and Krishnammal Jagannathan, founder of Land for Tillers' Freedom, who has spent 40 years fighting for land rights and the self-empowerment of women in Tamil Nadu, India.

"Seattle University is clear about its mission: empowering leaders for a just and humane world," says University President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. "Bringing these unsung heroes to our campus is a great opportunity to honor their work and provide our students an incredible educational experience by meeting inspiring individuals. Something is coming about from our students being global citizens and reaching out across the world to reach other people. My vision is that our students learn their own humanity through knowing more of humanity."

Barankitse founded Maison Shalom in 1993 as a home for 25 children orphaned after a violent attack by ethnic Tutsis, and the organization has grown into a multi-service agency helping to heal and support young people and families. Today, 500 small houses nurture and support children so they may be reintegrated into loving families, and Maison Shalom recently opened a hospital.

Woodard has reinvigorated lagging economies in Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua and surrounding areas through education, micro-credit, agriculture and technology initiatives, Jagannathan has elevated the social status and acceptance of the Dalits -- some of the India's poorest residents -- through housing and farmland provisions and negotiated land subsidies with the Indian government.

"We are thrilled to be recognizing and supporting three amazing entrepreneurs for their transforming, faith-driven work throughout the world," says Amy Sunderland, executive director of the Opus Prize Foundation. "These individuals show us that change is possible. They are an inspiration to us all."

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About Seattle University

Seattle University, founded in 1891, is a Jesuit Catholic university located on 48 acres on Seattle's Capitol Hill. More than 7,500 students are enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs within eight schools. U.S. News and World Report's "Best Colleges 2009" ranks Seattle University among the top 10 universities in the West that offer a full range of masters and undergraduate programs.

About the Opus Prize Foundation

The Opus Prize is given annually to recognize unsung heroes of any faith tradition, anywhere in the world, solving today's most persistent social problems. Opus Prize winners combine a driving entrepreneurial spirit with an abiding faith to combat seemingly intractable global issues. The Opus Prize Foundation is a private, independent philanthropy established by the Opus Group, a national real estate development company. The prize is awarded through a partnership with a university or college as a way to inspire lives of service. The Opus Prize Foundation does not accept unsolicited nominations.

SOURCE Opus Prize Foundation
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