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UNVEILED: Four finalists but only one will win MacArthur’s $100m grant

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From almost 2,000 proposals, four finalists have emerged in the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change, a global competition to win single $100 million grant to implement a project that will make the world a better place.

The finalists are Catholic Relief Services, HarvestPlus, Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University), and Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee.

According to the foundation, 7,069 competition registrants submitted 1,904 proposals for the 100&Change, a distinctive competition that invited proposals promising real progress toward solving a critical problem in any field or any location in the world.

Initially, 801 proposals passed an administrative review and were evaluated by a panel of judges.

MacArthur’s Board of Directors then selected eight semi-finalists and eventually the four finalists that were announced on Tuesday.

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“The proposals are creative, ambitious, and driven by a passion to make the world a better place for millions of people,” Julia Stasch, President of MacArthur, said.

“These solutions address diverse and pressing challenges. They include changing how society cares for children in orphanages, eliminating hidden hunger, improving newborn survival in Africa, and educating young children displaced by conflict.”

The proposal by the Catholic Relief Services is meant to promote the deinstitutionalization of orphaned children and transition to a family-based system of care in Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, and Moldova.

The HarvestPlus’ project promises to increase farmer’s incomes in addition to improving intake of nutrition to eliminate hidden hunger by fortifying staple crops in Africa. By 2022, the project will reach 100 million people in 17 African countries with seven bio-fortified crops.

The project by the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) will improve newborn survival in Africa through life-saving neonatal-care technologies for low-resource settings with the goal of saving the lives of 500,000 African newborns annually.

The fourth finalist is Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee, whose project will educate children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Middle East. Sesame Seeds is an evidence-based early childhood development intervention designed to address the “toxic stress” experienced by children in the Syrian refugee region — Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.

The next stage in the competition will see the finalists answer public questions in a weekly online series to be hosted by MacArthur starting September 29.

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They will then present their proposals during a live-streamed event on December 11, before the MacArthur Board of Directors names a single recipient to receive $100 million over up to six years.

“These teams were selected based on the strength of their partnerships, the viability and credibility of their solution, and their ability to sustain the project’s benefit over time,” Cecilia Conrad, MacArthur’s Managing Director who leads 100&Change, said.

“They are all worthy of funding, and we will help all of them attract the support their critical work requires, even if they do not receive our award.”

Chikezie can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @KezieOmeje

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