CAMBRIDGE — The Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area and the Dorchester Business Resource Group are still accepting nominations for the Rising Up Awards, initiated this year to celebrate the organizations and individuals who have helped to address the challenges of a deadly pandemic and societal unrest in 2020.

These special recognition awards honor the Dorchester County businesses, non-profit heritage organizations and individuals who have responded to the upheaval of 2020 with innovation, creativity and compassion. Their extraordinary efforts are evidenced in the programs, projects and ideas that have served to aid, enrich and inspire the Dorchester community during a year of unprecedented turmoil marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial protests.

The following awards will be presented in four categories in a public, online ceremony this fall:

Heritage Individual Achievement, which recognizes a person for his/her contributions to the heritage community by interpreting, preserving, promoting, researching and/or supporting local history and cultural traditions. Criteria: Significant achievement in preserving, promoting, interpreting or encouraging heritage awareness that results in improved public appreciation of local history and cultural; leadership in managing a heritage-related event, organization, facility or natural resource. Special consideration will be given to projects or programs related to or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or societal unrest.

Heritage Organizational Excellence, which recognizes an organization or local government entity that demonstrates achievement in contributing to heritage preservation, promotion, interpretation or tourism efforts. Criteria: Sponsoring outstanding heritage interpretation, advocacy or stewardship, including exhibits, tours, websites, programming, resources, etc. Special consideration will be given to projects or programs related to or in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or societal unrest.

Business Innovation Award, which recognizes a business that implemented innovative solutions for new or existing business needs and/or challenges. Criteria: A for-profit or non-profit business that initiated an innovative solution in the past 12 months. The solution could have addressed issues faced by the business that were new (i.e. COVID-19, government regulation) or longer standing (i.e. staff retention, customer acquisition). The solution needs to be well documented and the positive results easily recognizable. Emphases will be put towards nominees with a solution that can be rolled out and used by other organizations.

Business Partnership Award, which recognizes a team of organizations that have led efforts to improve the overall status of the business community by partnering together to deliver solutions or services for the betterment of Dorchester County. Criteria: A group of two or more organizations that teamed up to provide a solution that was designed to help the overall community. The solution represented in the nomination must have been initiated within the past 18 months and continued into this year. The positive impacts of the solution must go beyond the organizations that are part of the team. Another business or segment of the community must have benefited from the effort. The solution could have provided new opportunities for the community or addressed long standing issues impeding growth and prosperity.

All nominations will be reviewed/determined by internal selection committees from the Heart of Chesapeake Country Heritage Area and the Dorchester Business Resource Group. The awards will be presented in November in a public, online ceremony. Nomination forms must be received electronically, and the submission deadline is Sept. 16. The nomination form is available online, https://visitdorchester.org/ heritage-business-awards/.

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