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Manhattan Institute

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William E. Simon Prize

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William E. Simon Prize

“Private philanthropy and the organizations it supports are part of the life-blood of America—aiding and uplifting those in need, identifying and addressing problems which others, including government, have not yet even recognized.” — Howard Husock

Each year, the Manhattan Institute presents the William E. Simon Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Social Entrepreneurship to a prominent founder or leader of a highly effective organization. In recognition of the dedication and personal sacrifice required to sustain a successful career as a ground-breaking social entrepreneur, the award includes a personal honorarium of $100,000.

These awards recognize the creative energy of the nonprofit sector by highlighting new ideas and mature organizations led by social innovators. Click here for a complete descriptions of past winners.

Please note the nomination process for the William E. Simon Prize is separate from the Richard Cornuelle Awards. We encourage nominations from across the country, not just within the Tri-state New York City area.

Nominations may be submitted by anyone familiar with an individual’s or group's activities, except for a current employee of that individual or group. All nominations must be submitted through the online form.

Applicants are assessed according to the following principles:

  • Must be a non-profit, 501c(3) domestic organization in the United States, founded and led by an identifiable individual, or “social entrepreneur.” Annual budget, audited financial statement and/or Form 990 helpful, though not mandatory.
  • Organizations providing specific services to an identifiable target group of those in need. Examples could include assisting disadvantaged youths with academics; ex-offenders in finding employment; new immigrants with life adjustments.
  • Organizations based on original ideas by their founder or founders, rather than response to government request for proposals.
  • Preference for organizations reliant on private, philanthropic support. Some government support acceptable, but should not comprise majority of annual budget.
  • Preference for organizations effectively engaging volunteers, including volunteer board of directors. Other evidence of local support considered.
  • Past winners generally provide direct and specific services to the needy, rather than solely engaging in advocacy activity.

Selection Committee Process

All nominations are submitted to the Manhattan Institute Social Entrepreneurship Awards Selection Committee. After review and discussion a finalist is chosen.

In addition to Manhattan Institute president Lawrence Mone and vice president Howard Husock, the award selection committee for both awards includes:

  • Howard Husock, Vice President, Policy Research, Manhattan Institute, New York, NY;
  • Cheryl Keller, Foundation Consultant, Rye, NY;
  • Leslie Lenkowsky, Professor of Public Affairs and Philanthropic Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN;
  • Alicia Manning, The Lynne & Harry Bradley Foundation
  • Adam Meyerson, President, The Philanthropy Roundtable, Washington, D.C.;
  • Lawrence J. Mone, President, Manhattan Institute, New York, NY;
  • James Piereson, President, William E. Simon Foundation, New York, NY.


Questions about the Social Entrepreneurship Awards can be directed to Carolyn Gorman at