The news that MacArthur Foundation is launching another $100 million challenge to find world-changing solutions to our planet’s biggest problems was not met with a viral sense of anticipation or jubilance to my utter surprise. It seems like no one is talking about it.
$100 million people!
Talk about transformational!
This certainly wasn’t the case for the first go-round of "100&Change". When the Foundation known for placing bets on innovative solutions to issues like climate change, racial inequity and revamping the battered U.S. criminal justice system, launched it’s first 100&Change competition in 2016, they received nearly 2,000 applications from every conceivable combination of organizations one could think of with the hopes of tapping into the monumentally sized purse. Several of our clients participated in the process, and shared that the experience of going through the application and interviews was very useful to their organizational strategy development, even if they didn’t win any money to carry out their bold new ideas.
The winners in the end, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee, planned to use the $100 million to create television and education programming for children living in middle east conflict zones. I certainly can’t argue with the importance of teaching these embattled communities about the power of love, resilience and empathy from an early age. That said, the announcement, coupled with insight into which organizations were runners up, left me wondering about the 1,990 or so other applications. What emboldened, life-changing ideas were left on the cutting room floor? Turns out the Foundation archived each of the applications into a 100&Change Solutions Bank.
Perhaps feeling a sense of opportunity by the idea generation and potential for collaboration brought on by the first 100&Change, and recognizing that the power to leverage funding from an organization like MacArthur is what can truly change lives, the second 100&Change competition will take a different shape than the first. The new approach is to launch a standalone entity, called Lever for Change, which according to MacArthur “helps philanthropists source vetted, high-impact philanthropic opportunities and connects those opportunities to significant amounts of philanthropic capital.” Lever for Change will use its $100 million and more to match donor opportunities with appropriate ideas, taking some of the “cutting room floor” dilemma out of the picture. Minimum award amounts are $10 million and will launch some time in April. You can sign up for updates on their website.
Time to start idea generation and getting the word out!