Change the World with a MacArthur Foundation 100 and Change Grant

Grant will go to a single proposal to help solve one big problem

Have a solution to a critical problem but a little short on cash to implement it? This month the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced 100&Change, a new competition that will award a cool $100 million to the nonprofit or for-profit organization that wins it.

The competition is the foundation’s effort to solve big problems that other groups may have already begun to work on. The problem needs to affect people, places, or the planet, but is otherwise not specified by the foundation.

BE Smart recently spoke with Cecilia Conrad, the MacArthur Foundation’s managing director who is leading the 100&Change competition. Conrad is a former member of the Black Enterprise Board of Economists.

Where did the idea for 100&Change come from?

The foundation has been rethinking itself. We’ve begun to narrow our focus on a smaller number of problems than we had in the past with the hope of magnifying the impact.

We decided on those priorities internally, through a process. But we thought we should be open to other problems that we could help move toward a solution, but we didn’t know what those problems were.

So we decided to identify another space—and this is what 100&Change is doing—where we could focus significant resources ($100 million) on a single problem—letting the problem and solution come from outside instead of defining it internally.

How will the proposals be evaluated?

We will rate the proposals using a rubric that has four characteristics:

  1. It must be a meaningful problem and a solution that will create meaningful change—a range of issues fit under this umbrella, including education.
  2. The solutions must be verifiable—we’re looking for solutions that have strong evidence that they will work. We’re not necessarily looking for innovation; the solution can be something that has already been piloted.
  3. They must be feasible—the organization needs to have the capacity to actually implement the proposal.
  4. They must be durable—the grant can be used to create the infrastructure or pay some upfront costs, and there needs to be an identifiable stream of revenue that will sustain the solution after you’ve made this big upfront investment; the grant could also help to unlock other resources that will make the solution possible.

The registration deadline is Sept. 2; you must register before you can apply—so hurry! Grant recipients will be selected in the fall of 2017. The funding goes out in 2018.

Restrictions on how you can use the grant may apply.

For more information, go to 100andchange.org.