'Trombone Shorty,' 4 others receive $250,000 Heinz Awards

In this Friday, Sept. 9, 2016 photo provided by Megan Leigh Barnard, Ohio State University law professor, civil rights advocate and writer Michelle Alexander poses for a photograph in her home office in New Albany, Ohio. The Heinz Family Foundation announced winners of the Heinz Awards on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, naming legal scholar Alexander and others as winners. (Megan Leigh Barnard via AP)

A musician known for his work to preserve the musical heritage of New Orleans and a civil rights attorney who has written about the mass incarceration of blacks in America are among five people being honored by the Heinz Family Foundation

PITTSBURGH — Musician "Trombone Shorty," known for his work to preserve the musical heritage of New Orleans, is one of five people being honored Wednesday with $250,000 prizes from the Heinz Family Foundation.

The Heinz Awards recognize innovative work in the arts, environment, human condition, public policy and economics categories.

Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews started the Trombone Shorty Foundation to provide New Orleans schools will musical instruments and a self-named music academy, where he created a music performance curriculum.

The 30-year-old, who also plays several other horns, the drums and organ, is known for combining rock, jazz, funk and hip hop styles. A philanthropist, he's also worked with Tulane University to provide musical training to talented high school musicians.

Other Heinz winners include Michelle Alexander, a civil rights attorney from Columbus, Ohio, who wrote the book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."

The foundation was started in 1993 by Teresa Heinz to honor her late husband, U.S. Sen. John Heinz. The foundation has now awarded more than $25 million and recognized 128 people in the 21 years it has bestowed the awards.

"At a time of increasing divisiveness, these Americans inspire us with what is possible, remind us of our potential, and challenge us to do better," Heinz said in a statement.

The environmental award goes to Hal Harvey, of San Francisco, the chief executive officer of Energy Innovation and founder of the ClimateWorks Foundation and the International Council for Clean Transportation. He's worked to reduce carbon emissions and has pushed development of zero-carbon energy technologies and efforts to cut energy waste.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, also of San Francisco, won the award in the human condition category for her work to treat children suffering from stress inducted by poverty, abuse or other factors that put them at risk for chronic diseases later in life. She's a pediatrician and founded the Center for Youth Wellness.

Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of website and blogging platform WordPress won in the technology, economy and employment category.

The Heinz Award jurors say the Houston man's site had helped to "democratize online publishing," noting WordPress powers more than 25 percent of the world's websites. The 76.5 million online platforms the company supports include those for Microsoft, Time Inc. and The New York Times, but also millions of blogs controlled by individuals.

The winners will be recognized at a ceremony in Pittsburgh on Oct. 4.

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