MacArthur Foundation 100&Change

The University of Maryland has one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in the MacArthur Foundation's 100&Change competition. 

February 19, 2020

College Park, MD — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled that the University of Maryland has one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges. 

The University of Maryland is partnering with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) and CultivAid (Ethiopia). Together, they are joined by Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia), Kathmandu University (Nepal), the Environment and Public Health Organization (Nepal), and the Arava Institute (Israel). This multinational team comprises the Global Alliance for Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health, a unique, world-renowned group of agricultural, public health environmental, social/behavioral, engineering and policy experts, working to alleviate global food and water insecurity, improve public health and build resilience to climate change.

More than 870 million people are food insecure worldwide, and climate change is crippling the water and energy resources needed to grow more food. Solutions to increase harvests must address these complex connections between food, energy and water; yet previous efforts have focused largely on only one component.

“Our holistic solution increases yields using less water and energy, improves nutrition and public health, strengthens community-driven empowerment efforts and can be expanded globally,” said Dr. Amy Sapkota, Co-Principal Investigator of the proposal and a professor of environmental health in the UMD School of Public Health. "Our goal is to effect sustainable change at the local level, fostering climate resilience, ensuring water and food security and promoting a healthier future in communities that are currently facing the most critical water and food challenges.” 

To address this goal, the Global Alliance collaborates with vulnerable communities in Ethiopia and Nepal, implementing a threefold, holistic solution comprising: 1) technology- and policy-based interventions including on-farm horticultural, water reuse and renewable energy solutions that increase crop yields while improving water and energy efficiency; 2) community-driven capacity building that leverages local resources, mobilizes women, and cultivates sustainable partnerships; and 3) experiential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education that increases participation by vulnerable populations and prepares future changemakers in food, energy, water and health sectors. 

“The Global Alliance demonstrates the University of Maryland’s growing work across schools, colleges and international partnerships to create innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges,” said Ross Lewin, the University of Maryland’s Associate Vice-President of International Affairs. “This is an exciting recognition of the power and potential of global collaboration in higher education.”

The Top 100 represent the top 21 percent of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a Peer-to-Peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges, and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

"This is exactly what a 21st century public research university should do - work collaboratively to perform transformative research with the potential to improve the lives of people all over the globe," said Dr. Laurie Locascio, UMD's Vice President for Research. "We are hopeful that our place in the Top 100 of the 100&Change competition will pave the way for us to make real progress in the areas of food and water security and public health."

 “MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

Since the inaugural competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. Building on the success of 100&Change, MacArthur created Lever for Change to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions. In addition to 100&Change, Lever for Change is managing the Chicago Prize, the Economic Opportunity Challenge, and the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award.



Bold Solutions Network Launches

The Bold Solutions Network launched today, featuring the University of Maryland as one of the Top 100 from 100&Change. The searchable online  collection of submissions contains a project overview, 90-second video, and two-page factsheet for each proposal. Visitors can sort by subject, location, Sustainable Development Goal, or beneficiary population to view proposals based on area of interest.

The Bold Solutions Network will showcase the highest-rated proposals that emerge from the competitions Lever for Change manages. Proposals in the Bold Solutions Network undergo extensive evaluation and due diligence to ensure each solution promises real and measurable progress to accelerate social change.  

The Bold Solutions Network was designed to provide an innovative approach to identifying the most effective, enduring solutions aligned with donors’ philanthropic goals and to help top applicants gain visibility and funding from a wide array of funders. Organizations that are part of the network will have continued access to a variety of technical support and learning opportunities focused on strengthening their proposals and increasing the impact of their work. 

More About 100&Change

100&Change is a distinctive competition that is open to organizations and collaborations working in any field, anywhere in the world. Proposals must identify a problem and offer a solution that promises significant and durable change.

The second round of the competition had a promising start: 3,690 competition registrants submitted 755 proposals. Of those, 475 passed an initial administrative review. 100&Change was designed to be fair, open, and transparent. The identity of the judges and the methodology used to assess initial proposals are public. Applicants received comments and feedback from the peers, judges, and technical reviewers. Key issues in the competition are discussed in a blog on MacArthur's website.

In the inaugural round of 100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to focus more on building a foundation for future success for millions of young children. 


Media contact:
Kelly Blake, Assistant Dean, Communications
University of Maryland School of Public Health 
(301) 405-9418