On December 20, 2017, the MacArthur Foundation concluded the first round of its 100&Change program by granting a $100 million award to Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee (IRC). This $100 million award was the result of a multi-step process to identify a single proposal “that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.”
In October 2017, the foundation selected eight semi-finalists out of the 1,904 proposals they received, each with a video pitch and narrative response. A panel of external judges reviewed those proposals using four criteria: meaningfulness, verifiability, durability, and feasibility, with final choices made by MacArthur’s Board of Directors. Four finalists were selected to present their proposals to a live audience in Chicago, which was also livestreamed. While only one winner was selected to receive the $100 million award, the other three finalists were awarded $15 million each.
MacArthur received proposals addressing issues in a wide-ranging number of fields including education, the environment, and health, from organizations across the globe.
Semi-finalists included projects to:
- Eliminate blindness by treating cataracts in Nepal, Ethiopia, and Ghana;
- Provide telemedicine for specialist medical care in the United States;
- Eliminate the transmission of river blindness in Nigeria; and
- Expand U.S. digital libraries.
The three finalists proposed to:
- Support the integration of children living in orphanages with their parents in Guatemala, Haiti, India (Odisha), Indonesia (Central Java), Kenya, Lebanon, and Moldova;
- Eliminate key vitamin and mineral deficiencies by biofortifying staple crops in 17 priority countries in Africa; and
- Improve newborn survival rates through providing appropriate hospital technology in Africa, starting in Malawi.
The $100 million awardees, Sesame Workshop and the IRC, submitted a proposal to provide early learning programs and a caregiving program for young Syrian refugee children, and to produce and broadcast a local version of Sesame Street for 9.4 million young children in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
To maximize the impact of the rigorous proposal process for potential funders, MacArthur has created a public, searchable database of all submitted proposals alongside an interactive map of the top 200 highest-scoring proposals. MacArthur has also partnered with the Foundation Center to produce the 100&Change Solutions Bank, allowing users to further explore submitted proposals by subject focus, geography, and target population.
Additionally, MacArthur provided funding for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP) at the University of Pennsylvania to evaluate the potential for impact of 81 of the highest scoring proposals MacArthur received. Results from this work were published in “Bold Ideas for Philanthropists to Drive Social Change.”
MacArthur currently plans to offer new rounds of 100&Change every three years, with more information on the next round to be available in late 2018.