Awards and Honors


Champion of Youth Award

The interactive language program conducted between Uni High School students and students at Lycée Charlemagne, Thionville, France, has been chosen by the Illinois Sister Cities Association to receive their “Champion of Youth” Award in 2022.

The virtual interactions between the advanced French language class at Uni High School, under the direction of Ms. Lynda Lopez, and students working to improve their English language skills at the Lycée Charlemagne, in Thionville, France, under the instruction of Mme Marie-Ange Andrieux, embody the goals of Sister Cities International’s youth education and engagement programs—to “promote peace through mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation—one individual, one community at a time.” 

The variety and quality of the virtual exchanges conducted by the students during the 2021-22 school year show a high level of creativity and resourcefulness in a time of Covid-19 restrictions. With the help of Ms. Lopez, the student’s activities were summarized and submitted for consideration by the Urbana Sister Cities Committee. The announcement of the Award was made during the Illinois Sister Cities Association’s annual meeting held in Richton Park, Illinois.

Chairman Dennis Roberts will made a public announcement of this Award during the meeting of Urbana’s Committee of the Whole on May 16, 2022. Members of Uni High School’s French language class were invited to attend. This honor will also be made during the Illinois Municipal League annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois on Saturday, September 17, 2022.  

African Urban Poverty Alleviation Program and the Sino-African Initiative

The Urbana Sister Cities Program has received recognition at the local, state, and national level for the quality of its work related to the African Urban Poverty Alleviation Program and the Sino-African Initiative. These grant programs were sponsored by Sister Cities International.

On April 19, 2010 Urbana was one of 17 cities in the USA selected to participate in the African Urban Poverty Alleviation Project (AUPAP), funded by a $7.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Sister Cities International was the managing entity handling individual grant programs. Urbana was awarded a two-year, $115,000 grant to perform projects that address sanitation, health, and water issues in Zomba, our African Sister City.

“We are proud to be part of the second phase of the Sister Cities International’s Africa Urban Poverty Alleviation Program. With this grant money we will be able to assist our sister city, Zomba, Malawi, in improving conditions related to health, sanitation, and water though a jointly organized planning process and public works program. Some of the projects to be evaluated and addressed include: municipal refuse collection, availability of public toilets, improving water lines, and building safe water well and sanitary sewer connections.” —Dennis Roberts, Urbana Alderman Emeritus, chairman of the Urbana Sister City Committee.

Based on Urbana’s successful conclusion of the AUPAP Grant, the Urbana Sister Cities Program was invited to continue working in Africa as a participant in the Sino-African Initiative (SAI). The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded this grant to continue work in African communities, but now required a tri-lateral partnership involving a Sister City in China. Urbana had just established “Friendship City” status with the Haizhu District of Guangzhou City, Guangdong Provence, The People’s Republic of China, and was therefore eligible to participate. Urbana was one of three cities in the USA to work on this 2-year $100,000 project to address trash collection and organic composting in Zomba, our African partner. Work involved several exchanges between these three countries. An award ceremony was held celebrating the completion of this work during the SAI Closing Conference during the US-China Conference in Washington D.C., March, 2014.

For managing these grant projects, Sister Cities International won the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation and South-South and Triangular Cooperation Partnership Award of 2014.

Urbana’s Sister Cities Program was chosen to receive the Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award in the area of Humanitarian Relief, September 26, 2012 for its work in Malawi on the AUPAP and SAI grant programs.

Sister City of the YearC-U International Humanitarian Award

Urbana’s Sister Cities Program was chosen to be the “2012 Sister City of the Year” by the Illinois Sister Cities Association. The award was presented during the annual meeting of the Illinois Municipal League in September, 2012. Work in Africa and effective outreach within the local community were cited by the ISCA as meriting this recognition.

C-U International Humanitarian Award

On September 26, 2012, the Urbana Sister Cities Program received the Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award in the Area of Humanitarian Relief for its health and sanitation programs in Malawi.

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- Last Modified -May 24, 2022 - 11:06am
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