Member Recognition

Lutheran Services in America launched a new tradition in 2021 to recognize two distinguished member organizations in the network each year for their exceptional work and leadership and for exemplifying our core values to announce at the Annual Membership Meeting.

The Awards

The Innovator Award recognizes a member organization that is pioneering new solutions, technology or business practices to solve complex issues. This member is forward-thinking and extending beyond its own mission to strengthen the Lutheran social ministry network across the country. Ultimately, their breakthrough solutions are designed to lift up the nation’s most vulnerable people and help ensure that all Americans can live abundant lives.

The Micah Award recognizes a member organization that is leading the way in its work in addressing justice, mercy and equity. This member’s leadership in race equity, inclusion and diversity is truly inspirational and best exemplifies the spirit of Micah 6:8, “Act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

2021 Award Recipients

The Innovator Award: Genacross Lutheran Services

Genacross Lutheran Services actively pursued an innovative solution to social determinants of health for older adults with the development and implementation of Senior Connect, a model of care that enables seniors to age in the home and community of their choosing.

Working through the COVID-19 pandemic, Genacross established a scalable framework for Senior Connect intended for managed care providers that want to improve health outcomes while also reducing costs.

With Senior Connect, Genacross increased service delivery and outcomes for its residents, completing more than 1,700 assessments of more than 900 residents who live within its affordable independent living housing sites. The assessments helped Genacross identify about 600 gaps in care, 80 percent of which have been addressed to date.

Learn more about the innovative work of Genacross Lutheran Services.

The Micah Award: Lutheran Social Services of New York

Following the death of George Floyd, Lutheran Social Services of New York transformed its services to incorporate social justice practices to better serve its communities. In so doing, LSSNY upended the status quo by shifting from a social service organization to a social change organization.

Change first began with members of the staff, who exchanged ideas with one another on important issues such as colorism, white supremacy, educational privilege, language, and the role of nonprofits for people in need.

Leadership also discussed issues of social justice and systemic racism with members of the board of directors. In addition, the transformation included the creation of a Civic Engagement Committee, political candidate forums, and a strategic plan that positions LSSNY as an effective catalyst of social change, collaborating with others to dismantle the effects persistent with poverty and social injustice.

Learn more about the inspirational work of Lutheran Social Services of New York.

2021 Award Nominees

The Innovator Award

Lutheran Family & Children’s Services of Missouri

Lutheran Family & Children’s Services of Missouri actively works to empower millions of children with the tools they need in their early years at its Hilltop Child and Family Development Center. The Center serves the North St. Louis community with holistic family intervention and support services, including early childhood education, behavioral health services and parenting education.

The Center’s innovative model aims to improve the overall development, stability, health and safety of both the child and family in an area severely affected by poverty and crime. Nearly two-thirds of children served have parents earning less than $20,000 per year and 61 percent live in single-parent households. Exposure to violence and crime in the community, living in poverty, or living in a single parent household are all risk factors for abuse and neglect.

The services provided by Hilltop mitigate those risks and improve other outcomes such as third-grade reading proficiency, high school graduation rates, long-term health and more. Ultimately, Hilltop provides 140 children with an equitable beginning to their education every year.

In addition, Lutheran Family & Children’s Services of Missouri shares the lessons learned at Hilltop with fellow Lutheran Services in America members through the Results Innovation Lab to inform new strategies for dramatically improving the lives of thousands of children across the country.

Learn more about the work of Lutheran Family & Children’s Services of Missouri.

Additional Nominees

The Micah Award

Lutheran Services Carolinas

In the true spirit of Micah 6:8, Lutheran Services Carolinas has a long history of advancing justice, mercy, and equity in communities across North and South Carolina.

In 2003, Lutheran Services Carolinas replaced an old skilled nursing facility that had housed residents who were primarily impoverished with a new facility located in the heart of Winston-Salem’s African American community. Since that same year, Lutheran Services Carolinas has been involved in the North Carolina Synod’s African Descent Strategy Team and Racial Justice Network.

For Lutheran Services Carolinas, the fight for equity within its own ranks is just as important. The organization regularly offers cultural competency training around implicit bias and racial equity and has an active Diversity Council that is open to each of the organization’s employees.

Lutheran Services Carolinas has also been a steadfast source of support for refugees for decades. Since 1979, the organization has assisted hundreds of refugees resettle in the United States and become contributing members of their communities, despite at times hateful pushback, including intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan. Lutheran Services Carolinas aims to not only support refugees but also to educate communities on how they can benefit from refugee resettlement programs.

Learn more about the work of Lutheran Services Carolinas.

Additional Nominees