Bold Ideas for Philanthropists to Drive Social Change

After all the hard work of conceiving a meaningful global project, researching and confirming partnerships, drafting a proposal, and waiting months for a decision from funding organizations, it can be disheartening to learn you did not receive the grant for a program you felt would make a big difference in the world. But, The Polis Center experienced a very unique “afterglow” during the recent submission process with the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition.

“The 100%Change initiative funds a single proposal with a $100 million grant that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem in a meaningful and lasting way,” said Dr. Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director, MacArthur Fellows & 100%Change, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “Some social problems cannot be solved by grants the size that foundations usually provide. We wanted to fund at a level far above what is typical in philanthropy, addressing problems and supporting solutions that are radically different in scale, scope, and complexity. The Foundation received 1,904 submissions, which were narrowed to a list of Top 200. We reduced that to eight semifinalists and finally a finalist: the Sesame Workshop & International Rescue Committee, which plans to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East.”

The MacArthur Foundation was impressed with the caliber of the submissions, however. It did not want to see the ideas relegated to a database. Thus, it elected to spotlight in some way the many worthy proposals that were not selected as a semifinalist in the hope that other donors and foundations might support them. The MacArthur Foundation partnered with with The Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP), based at the University of Pennsylvania, and published, Bold Ideas for Philanthropists to Drive Social Change, a guide that highlights 11 “best bets” or projects with the greatest potential for impact.

The Polis Center’s submission, LIFE 2030, is one of these “best bets.” Our proposal’s goal was to achieve a mine-free planet by 2030. Collaborators on the Polis project included: Halo Trust, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Kyle House Group, TELOPS, Mapping-Solutions, and the Center for Aerial Systems. Check out highlights of our proposal on page 16 of the guide and pass the word around in the hope it lands on the desk of a donor who would like to see it come to fruition!