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Clara Wu Tsai honored as ‘Champion of Justice’ for her criminal and social justice efforts

Clara Wu Tsai, co-owner of the Nets and Liberty, has been named a “Champion of Justice” by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University system.

The award was bestowed virtually in early February. Video of the award ceremony was posted to YouTube Monday.

Wu Tsai was honored for her role in helping create and fund the REFORM Alliance, which aims at reforming the nation’s criminal justice system as well as establishing the $50 million Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

Among those who congratulated the Harvard and Stanford graduate were Van Jones of the REFORM Alliance, Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation and Deray McKesson, the Black activist who’s been particularly visible in Black Lives Matter protests.

Here’s the video of the ceremony...

In accepting the award, Wu Tsai said as the Kansas-born daughter of immigrants, she is very much aware of the role that economic mobility and education can play.

“Improving economic mobility among low-income households has been a focus of my philanthropy from its earliest days,” said Wu Tsai via Zoom, acknowledging the role John Jay plays in the city.

She described herself as a “fierce advocate for equality of opportunity.” Wu Tsai in particular noted “education was my pathway to opportunity and I believe it is the single most important mobility lever we have.”

“Our own social justice commitment at our (Joe and Clara Wu Tsai) foundation and at BSE Global focus on support on economic mobility and racial justice in Brooklyn, supporting voices of Black leaders, creating a company culture of inclusiveness and racial equity and bringing the community together around conversations about justice.”

Jones, the former Obama White House aide and CNN commentator who’s CEO of the REFORM Alliance, described Wu Tsai this way:

“There is no better advocate for justice, nobody who cares more, nobody who asks better questions and nobody who loves her players more, no one better at trying to solve the problems of opportunity and justice and education. No one is doing it more or better or greater.”

McKesson, an early supporter of Black Lives Matter who’s been active in the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, recounted how Wu Tsai hadimpressed him.

“Clara and I met because of issues about police violence. We had a conversation about ‘What do we do?’ There’s a million think pieces and essays. You can watch documentary about how bad police violence is, but the question becomes, ‘now what? what do we do to end it?’

“When I think about how I began knowing Clara, she’s laser-focused on learning. “She was trying to figure out what she doesn’t know, what can she do with her resources to actually impact change at scale. That really moved me. There are a lot of people I meet who aren’t focused on solutions.”

The award was one of two news stories related to the Tsais’ philanthropy in February. The Joe and Clara Wu Tsai Foundation also made a “historic contribution” to Yale University, Joe Tsai’s alma mater, for the establishment of a Wu Tsai Institute devoted to the study of human cognition.

Here’s a video of what the contribution will be focused on...

This is the second time the Tsais’ have established a neuroscience institution at one of their alma maters. Three years ago, they provided financing for the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute at Stanford, her alma mater.