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WORD: San Francisco author Dave Eggers bags $250K for Heinz Award

San Francisco author Dave Eggers, founder of the 826 Valencia writing laboratories as well as a publishing house for emerging writers, won $250,000 from The Heinz Family Foundation in its Arts and Humanities award category. Eggers is a novelist whose meteoric commercial and critical success led him into the worlds of philanthropy, advocacy and education, which helped make him one of five recipients of 13th annual Heinz Awards.

Dave EggersEggers burst on the literary scene with his autobiographical bestseller, "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," in 2000. His 2006 novel, "What is the What," was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Award for Fiction.

His love of writing and commitment to nurturing young literary voices led Eggers to found 826 Valencia, a writing laboratory for children that began in San Francisco and now totals six locations across the country.

Founded in 2002 in San Franciso’s Mission District, the centers offer free tutoring, English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, writing workshops, summer camps, publication projects and other services to kids ages six to 18. Additional 826 branches now include New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Michigan and Boston.

Eggers also launched McSweeney’s, a publishing house that produces his and other young writers’ works. McSweeney’s also is the name of the humor and literary quarterly that he publishes.

In addition to the $250,000 award for their unrestricted use, Heinz Awards recipients are presented with a medallion inscribed with the image of the late Sen. Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other. The medallion symbolizes the partnership, continuity and values carried on to the next generation. The hands also suggest passing on the stewardship of the earth to future generations, The Heinz Family Foundation said in its press release.

Nominations for the Heinz Awards are submitted by an invited Council of Nominators, all experts in their fields, who serve anonymously. Award recipients are selected by the board of directors for the Heinz Awards upon recommendation by a panel of jurors in each category.

The Heinz Awards will be presented at a private ceremony on October 22 in Pittsburgh.


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