Loyola Marymount University will serve as the university partner and host for this year’s Opus Prize, a $1 million, faith-based award given annually to recognize humanitarian heroes of any faith who are working to solve persistent social problems in their communities.

The 2011 prize winner will be announced in November at a public ceremony hosted by LMU on its Westchester campus.

The Opus Prize recognizes organizations that are unsung, yet are providing exceptional and unique responses to difficult social problems such as poverty, illiteracy, hunger, disease and injustice in the world’s poorest communities.

LMU President David W. Burcham chaired the 10-member selection jury, which met Jan. 31 at LMU to recommend finalists for the honor. The foundation makes the final choice in early fall from among the three recommended by the jury.

The next steps in the selection process involve faculty and students, who will make site visits and assessments of the nominees this summer. The year-long process is intended to serve as a learning experience that asks members of the university community to think globally about social justice, an LMU spokesperson said.

The Opus Prize Foundation, a private philanthropic organization, funds the Opus Prize. Each year, the foundation selects a Catholic university as a partner to select nominees, finalists, and then a winner of the $1 million prize, as well as a runner-up organization, which receives $100,000.

The foundation awarded its first prize in 2004 as a tangible way to support people who are committed to transforming the lives of others and to inspire the next generation’s involvement in humanitarian and social work careers.

Prior university partners included Fordham University, University of St. Thomas, Seattle University, Catholic University of America, University of Notre Dame and Marquette University.

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