YEREVAN – The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative has announced that nominations for the 2017 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity have now closed.

This year’s nominations process – which spanned June 1 through September 9, 2016 – garnered 558 submissions for 254 unique candidates. Entries were received in 13 languages from 66 countries, most nominations were submitted by people from Armenia, the United States, Russia, Germany, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, France, Nepal, Kenia, India, Philippines and the Great Britain.

Now in its second year, the Aurora Prize saw almost three times as many nominations as last year, when 186 nominations were submitted for 113 candidates in six languages and from 27 countries.

“We are gratified to see so many deserving nominations from all corners of the world,” said Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative and the Aurora Prize. “In only its second year, the vision that gave birth to the Aurora Prize is reinforced – that humanity can and should highlight and honor those who risk their own lives to save others. It is only because there are such people that Armenians, including my family, survived during the Genocide, and it is to express our gratitude as human beings, that we wish to share this Prize with those who look in the face of danger, and do the right thing.”

The nominations will now be reviewed by a group of knowledgeable and practiced professionals, who will prepare a short list based on demonstrated courage, commitment and impact. The top 20 will then be given to the Selection Committee, which is currently chaired by actor and philanthropist George Clooney and includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson; President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and Former Foreign Minister of Australia, Gareth Evans; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Vartan Gregorian; and former UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani.

“Following the first year’s impressive turnout, this year’s high number of nominations is very promising,” said Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder and Selection Committee member for the Prize. “We look forward to advancing the mission of the Aurora Prize as we continue to share with the world such inspiring stories as that of the 2016 laureate, Marguerite Barankitse.”

Ms. Barankitse, the founder of Maison Shalom and the REMA Hospital in Burundi, was selected as the first-ever Aurora Prize Laureate. Per the terms of the Prize, she was honored with a $100,000 grant for her unyielding dedication to helping others in times of darkness and despair, as well as the ability to continue the cycle of giving by selecting the organizations that inspired her work to receive a $1,000,000 award. She chose three groups that advance aid and rehabilitation for child refugees and orphans and combat child poverty.

The 2017 Aurora Prize finalists will be publicly announced in February 2017 following the deliberations of the Selection Committee. This will be followed by a weekend of events in April 2017. To be held in Yerevan, Armenia, the weekend will honor the finalists, engage humanitarians in productive dialogue around the world’s most pressing issues, and announce the 2017 Aurora Prize Laureate during a special ceremony.

The Aurora Prize will be awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan, Armenia.
For additional selection process details and announcements, please visit

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