A beacon is a light that serves as a signal or guide.

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Across the state, the next generation is stepping up to build a more equitable and thriving West Virginia. Every day, young West Virginians are dedicating themselves to the transformational work of revitalizing their communities: young artists are creating new hope, young entrepreneurs are building new opportunity, and young leaders are sharing new visions.
The West Virginia Beacon Awards recognize young leaders who are leaning in to existing challenges, digging into possible solutions and most importantly, turning their ideas into action.
The West Virginia Beacon Awards is presented in partnership by two organizations dedicated to supporting young leaders in the Mountain State. The One Foundation nurtures grassroots transformation in communities across the coalfields of Central Appalachia and beyond to spur a more diverse, more sustainable, and more inclusive economy. Generation West Virginia is the statewide organization dedicated to attracting, retaining, and advancing young talent.
By lifting up one another as well as their communities, these young West Virginians are writing a new, brighter future for the state. It’s a future full of inspiration and light. In short, these young West Virginians are beacons of hope for us all.

Know someone in West Virginia who is improving their community? Nominate them by March 31st.

The Beacon Award is for young leaders who don’t expect accolades, instead they lift others up. They are leaders who make an impact after their day jobs, visionaries with ideas that are already changing the Mountain State.


About the West Virginia Beacon Awards

The West Virginia Beacon Awards connect and recognize young “doers” — those idea-to-action leaders between the ages of 18-40 across West Virginia who work humbly and tirelessly for the betterment of their communities.
Beacon Awardees are those leaders who never anticipated recognition or status. Rather, they support their communities because they know they must. They act from their heart and possess a relentless drive to do whatever is needed for the places and people they care about. The One Foundation and Generation West Virginia both know that systemic change starts with building momentum at all levels, which is why this award is for those who are leading work at all scales, whether it is at the street-, town-, regional- or state-level.
The West Virginia Beacon Awards will recognize five leaders with a monetary award of $2,000 each to support their work. 

Selection Criteria

Our selection process is guided by the following five principles:

Nominees must be embedded in their local community, working with the people most impacted by significant local challenges. Nominees work to find solutions that are at the root of these challenges. And in doing so, nominees provide inspiration to others in their community.

Social Entrepreneurial Spirit

Nominees are entrepreneurial and enthusiastic about their work. They see the challenge of existing gaps as exciting opportunities for unique solutions that lift themselves and others up, while simultaneously serving their communities and bettering the state.

Generous Leadership

Nominees possess a vision of a better future for their community and their work is inclusive and empowering of others. They are driven not by external validation but rather by an altruism to better their community for everyone and for the state as a whole. Their leadership is anchored by compassion, heartfelt caring, self-awareness and honesty. These leaders are successful because they are intentional and self-determined. Nominees are partners, collaborators, and unifiers. They should exhibit the ability to work as part of a team across community divides.

Impact In Action

Nominees are engaged in work that is already underway with measurable success. Their work has potential for local, regional, and statewide transformational impact. At this stage, their work is not required to be formalized or have a reached full potential; however the work must have already demonstrated success and could be expanded to make more impact.

The Beacon Awards are for those who may be overlooked by existing awards programs and fellowships.

This is an opportunity to highlight young people who are working behind the scenes, who are the backbone of a community, who understand that solutions must get down to the roots to really make an impact. Submit your nomination by March 31st.


Selection Process

Phase 1: Call for Nominations

The West Virginia Beacon Awards are selected on a nomination-basis. Nominations for those leaders who are performing outstanding work in their community can be submitted online between March 1st – 31st. Through the nomination form, nominators will provide basic information including name, organization (if applicable), the primary community of work, and answers to several longer descriptive questions. These questions will provide further detail on the individual, their work and strategy, and how they are supporting their community through their vision and execution. The nomination form will also include the contact information for at least three references that can further speak to the nominee and the impact they are making. We are using a nomination process that is consistent with our desire to select awardees who are under the radar and are humble and not focused on recognition.

All nomination materials will remain confidential and all nominators will remain anonymous throughout the process.

Any paid staff or contractors through Generation West Virginia are not eligible for nomination.

Phase 2: Nominations Review

The Review Committee, made up of Generation West Virginia and One Foundation staff, will review all nominations according to the selection criteria as outlined above to identify up to 20 individuals to continue to on to Phase 3.

Phase 3: Follow Up & Research

The Review Committee will reach out to each of the listed contacts for the individuals identified in Phase 2. After receiving additional feedback from references the Nominating Committee will reach out to the nominated individuals directly for in depth interviews. The nominator will remain confidential throughout the process.

Phase 4: Award Selection

Based on the Phase 3 research, the Review Committee and prominent community leaders will select 5 winners for the award.

Phase 5: Beacon Awards Presentation

On October 17th at the Clay Center in Charleston, the One Foundation and Generation West Virginia will host an awards ceremony where the five Beacon Award Winners are presented with monetary awards of $2,000 each.

Awardee Support

It is important to Generation West Virginia and the One Foundation that the benefits of this recognition don’t end with the monetary award. Generation West Virginia will work with the Beacon Awardees to:
  • Generation West Virginia will work with all five winners to develop a brief video essay to visually tell their story that will be shared through Generation West Virginia’s platforms as well as be a resource to build support for their work in the future
  • Connect Awardees with mentorship through organizational partners and specific community members engaged in our statewide Generation Chapter network.
  • Connect Awardees with speaking opportunities at Generation Chapter events
  • Connect Awardees with speaking opportunities with Impact Fellows through Fellowship retreats, program orientation and program graduation
  • Profile Awardees on GWV’s website and work with awardee to provide updates on their work that is included on the website biannually
  • Work with Awardees to publish a featured interview through ‘UpThink’, GWV’s monthly digital email series
  • Establish a quarterly check-in with GWV staff to identify evolving opportunities and challenges in Awardee’s work to best connect and support them
  • Invite Awardees to serve on review committee for the next year’s award nominations
  • Connect awardees to new mentors and support

We all know someone in our community who is making a difference.

Nominations can come from anyone who sees first-hand the impact of their nominee’s hard work making their community and West Virginia a better place for all.


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