Annual Awards

Up With People International Alumni Association (UWPIAA) Annual Awards

Each year at reunion, the UWPIAA recognizes alumni who continue to embrace the mission of Up with People in their everyday lives. Whether the words award, honor, tribute, commendation, acknowledgement, or others are used, the purpose of this part of the alumni experience is to shine a light on those who make a difference in the lives of others by living the ideals of what we learned through the Up with People experience. All award nominations for Reunion were due by 11:59 p.m. PDT 30 April 2023.


    1.  Nominees can include anyone who participated in any capacity of the UWP program since its inception in 1965.
    2.  Nominations will not be accepted or considered for posthumous awards. Nominees selected to receive an award who pass away prior to receipt of the award will be duly recognized.
    3. Nominations will not be accepted or considered for a past recipient for the same or a different award for efforts previously recognized by the UWPIAA.
    4. Nominations will be accepted and considered for a past recipient for the same or a different award for efforts NOT previously recognized by the UWPIAA.


The J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumnus/Alumna Award

J. Blanton Belk’s vision has impacted more than 22,000 alumni and millions of people around the globe. Alumni considered for this award are those who have made an exceptional contribution to humankind by carrying forward the ideals of Up with People. The J. Blanton Belk Award may be given annually to an individual, chosen from all alumni, not only those who are celebrating a reunion. Previous J. Blanton Belk Award honorees have sacrificed economic and/or personal security to serve others. Examples of past honorees’ achievements in bettering the world include: working within an existing NGO (non-government organization); creating, launching, and leading (even temporarily) an organization which makes a positive difference in the lives of others; making an ongoing compassionate contribution; volunteering a substantial amount of time to help those in need; inspiring, teaching, or challenging others through passion, leadership, and vision; and overcoming great personal barriers or tragedy to persevere as a model of courage and involvement.

The James E. MacLennan Everyday Hero Award

James MacLennan traveled in the early years of UWP and then as a cast director with his wife. Ultimately, he served as Chief Operating Officer of UWP for decades. This award may be presented to one or more alumni celebrating a reunion. It recognizes those who, in their everyday lives, have served their communities with countless small, selfless acts of kindness and time commitment, founded, been involved in, or led community service projects, and/or responded to domestic or foreign emergencies.

Outstanding Cast/Crew Representative Award

Cast/Crew Reps provide service to both their casts/crews and the alumni body as a whole. This award may be given in recognition of those who sacrifice long hours and resources to keep their casts/crews connected and informed all year round.


The Nomination Form is made available each spring for awards to be bestowed at the reunion of the same calendar year. The form and supporting documents must be submitted to the awards committee by the published deadline.

While you know your nominee, the members of the Alumni Awards Selection Committee may not. Include as much information as possible regarding the nominee’s qualifications and accomplishments. Please include as many specifics as possible to support your nomination, such as articles, letters, writings, videos, photos or anything else you feel would help us know this individual.

Nominees may be endorsed by multiple alumni. While it is okay for non-alumni to participate in the nomination process, (particularly the J. Blanton Belk and Everyday Hero awards), the actual nomination must come from an alum.

At times, multiple people may want to nominate an individual for an award. We encourage you to designate a primary nominator to complete that nomination form for that individual, have that primary nominator collect endorsement letters from others interested in nominating an individual, and include those letters with the nomination form. However, all nomination information submitted on behalf of any individual nominated will be considered as part of the entire nomination.


The Awards Committee is comprised of alumni from different eras and regions. The committee reviews all nominations and makes a recommendation to the UWPIAA Board of Governors. Nominators will be contacted if additional documentation is needed.

Need more information? Please contact our Awards Committee Chair or would like to inquire about serving on the Awards Committee.