SXSW Community Service Awards

The SXSW Community Service Awards honor individuals and organizations for their dedication to fostering positive community impact. Each honoree receives a grant, complimentary entry to SXSW, and recognition at an awards ceremony during the SXSW event.

SXSW 2023 Community Service Honorees – (L-R) Precious Azurée, Meme Styles and Shirelle McMillan of Measure – Photo by Andy Wenstrand



The SXSW Community Service Awards celebrate leaders and non-profit organizations from Austin and around the world who work tirelessly to improve the standing of the specific groups and causes that they serve.

This program was launched to honor the memory of SXSW Interactive co-founder Dewey Winburne and remains true to the vision that grassroots community activism is the most essential building block for progressive change on a much larger societal level.

The five honorees for this program for 2024 will be announced in early February.

Explore past honorees: 2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017

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2023 Honorees


Community Service Awards 2023 - Alvin Irby

Alvin Irby (Barbershop Books), New York City

Alvin Irby is an educator, author, comedian, and the founder of Barbershop Books, a nonprofit organization that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. Alvin hosts cultural competency workshops as well as Diversity & Inclusion training for school districts, library systems, and education organizations. His programs help educators better understand and address the systemic and personal challenges that inhibit children's motivation to read and learn. Alvin holds a Master’s in Childhood Education from the Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a Master's in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University, and a Bachelor's in Sociology from Grinnell College.

Community Service Awards 2023 - Joe Paul

Joe Paul (Byte Back), Washington DC

Joe Paul is the Chief Executive Officer of Byte Back, a tech nonprofit committed to closing the digital divide by providing under-resourced communities an equitable pathway into the digital economy. Prior to joining Byte Back, he served as the 29th Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Before that, Joe founded Campus 2 Careers Strategies; a training organization dedicated to equipping individuals with essential skills to successfully navigate both personal and professional relationships. Joe is the immediate past Chief Operating Officer for The Stafford Foundation, a charitable organization committed to doing good around the world. He is the author of “Morning Cup of Joe,” “Love Yourself,” “100 Ways to Change the World, One Good Deed at a Time,” and a devoted philanthropist. Prior to starting his own business, Joe worked with Management Leadership for Tomorrow where his strategies and tactics led to a 300% increase in overall outcomes - attracting and connecting high achieving, high potential underrepresented minorities to the nation’s top business schools and meaningful career opportunities at Fortune 100 companies. Before joining MLT, Joe served as the Human Resources Officer for the District of Columbia government.

Community Service Awards 2023 - Meme Styles

Meme Styles (Measure), Austin

Meme Styles is the President and founder of an award-winning social justice nonprofit and has 15 years of experience working in organizational leadership, research, social science and community organizing. Meme is responsible for numerous social justice-focused programs and projects in Texas and California and is a powerful force in the ecosystem of diversity, equity and inclusion research as she uses her lived-experience and tireless energy to encourage others to be anti-racist. She is currently a Social Science Research Council, Just Tech Fellow solving for anti-racist technology. Mrs. Styles holds a Bachelor's of Science in Communications, Masters Of Public Administration with a concentration on National Security, a Certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Cornell, certified in Performance Measurement through George Washington University College of Professional Studies and is currently a Doctoral candidate at Liberty university. She is also the wife of a US Veteran and the mother of four.

Community Service Awards 2023 - Sabaah Folayan

Sabaah Folayan (Firelight Media), Philadelphia

Through screenwriting, filmmaking, and public speaking, Sabaah Folayan levels an optimistic yet unflinching gaze on the urgent questions of our time. Sabaah made her directorial debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, with the feature length documentary Whose Streets?. Nominated for Peabody, Critic’s Choice, Gotham and NAACP Awards, the film chronicles the experiences of activists living in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown Jr. was killed. Whose Streets? was distributed theatrically by Magnolia Pictures, broadcast for Television by POV and is now streaming on Netflix. In 2021, Sabaah wrote the series finale of HBO’s Betty, a critically acclaimed comedy series about a crew of young female skateboarders in New York City. Her second feature documentary LOOK AT ME: XXXTENTACION premiered at South by Southwest 2022 and is now streaming on Hulu. Sabaah was born in Los Angeles, raised in Hawaii and educated in New York City. She graduated from Columbia University as a pre-medical student. The desire to work at a larger scale evolved into a unique storytelling practice that is informed by principles of behavioral science and social justice. Sabaah specializes in blending care, nuance, and depth with entertainment and popular culture. She is currently the interim director of Firelight Media's Documentary Lab.

Community Service Awards 2023 - Yvette Griffith

Yvette Griffith (Jazz re:freshed), London

Since joining the team 10 years ago, Yvette Griffith has solidified the foundations of Jazz re:freshed including securing long-term funding which enabled the team to expand their artist services and launch the game changing international initiative, JAZZ RE:FRESHED OUTERNATIONAL placing a global spotlight onto the young and culturally diverse and female talent bubbling away in the UK Jazz scene. Co-founder of GiveBLACK UK and Black Funding Network, Yvette is also focusing on galvanizing philanthropic giving for UK based Black not for profit organizations. For her work in contributing to changing the trajectory and profile of British Jazz, Yvette was awarded the H100 Award for Services to Music in 2019. 2023 marks 20 years of Jazz re:freshed and this not for profit continues to be a small but relentlessly determined organization. The core of their mission is globally elevating, amplifying and spotlighting the breadth of expression in UK Jazz, while breaking down the barriers for culturally diverse artists and audiences to access the music.

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