The MacArthur Foundation has chosen eight semi-finalists for 100&Change, a competition awarding a $100 million grant to the nonprofit or for-profit organization with the most distinguished, world-changing proposal. Submitted ideas include changing the way we care for orphans, treating blindness in Africa, providing virtual access to specialty medical care for the underprivileged and more.
While this is big news to the semi-finalists, they are only about halfway there. There are four more steps before a finalist is chosen, so we have to be patient.
Until then, let’s learn more about the semi-finalists:
1. Catholic Relief Services has a vision to change the way our society cares for the millions of children who have been struck by poverty, disease and natural disasters. In partnership with Lumos and Maestral International, the organization plans to reunite these children with nurturing families and turn orphanages into family service providers.
“The project will also engage donors to help them understand the challenges of residential care and encourage them to redirect their donations and resources to serve vulnerable children in a way that supports family-based care.”
2. HarvestPlus recognizes that one third of our global population sustains a diet that lacks essential vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, iron and zinc), which can lead to blindness, stunting cognitive impairment disease and death. Biofortification is a method that “enriches staple foods through conventional plant breeding to provide a sustainable, farmer-controlled tool to fight malnutrition.” HarvestPlus intends to introduce this new way of farming to Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia, with a goal of reaching 1 billion people by 2020. The organization believes this approach will allow “African countries to become nutritionally self-sufficient and lay the groundwork to grow this work globally.”
3. Himalayan Cataract Project plans to advance eye care and deliver it to the people of Nepal, Ethiopia and Ghana. There are over 39 million people in the world who are affected by some form of blindness—90 percent of whom reside in developing countries. The organization plans on investing its funds into people and into an infrastructure that will enhance optical health care systems in these countries.
“By training community health providers, the Himalayan Cataract Project will deliver cataract surgery and permanent refractive correction—commonly known as laser surgery— at low cost to more than 500,000 people. Sight-restoring cataract surgeries can be performed for as little as $25.”
4. Human Diagnosis Project focuses its efforts on providing specialty health care to the 30 million uninsured patients in the U.S. who rely on the nation’s safety net system, which include 1,300 public hospitals, community health centers and free clinics. The problem is that approximately 91 percent of these safety net clinics have a hard time obtaining specialty care for these patients. Herein lies the solution: Specialty Net, led by the Human Diagnosis Project, is “an alliance of the nation's physician societies, licensing boards and academic institutions” that aims to deliver specialty care for the uninsured. Specialty Net expects to engage 100,000 volunteer specialists over the next five years.
“Patients will receive the specialty care they need, without having to wait or pay out of pocket. Specialists will receive credits toward their medical education, ongoing licensing and maintenance of certification requirements.”
5. Internet Archive will provide access to books and other resources to individuals who are not able to afford them regardless of their geographic location. With this project, the organization plans to reduce digitization costs by 50 percent and enable free, long-term public access to knowledge for a new generation of learners.
“The Internet Archive has prototyped this model for more than six years, digitizing 540,000 modern books originating from 100 partners and lending them to the public in a process that mirrors the way libraries traditionally lend physical books.”
6. Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) strives to increase the survival rate of newborns in Africa. Globally, there is a 40 percent newborn mortality rate that occurs within the first four weeks of birth. In Africa alone, 85 percent of newborn deaths are due to pre-term birth, complications of labor and delivery and infections. These deaths could be prevented with access to affordable medical technologies that can endure the environment resource-poor settings. The organization plans to create and deliver Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies, which is as effective and costs 10- to 100-times less than those used in high-resource settings.
“By nurturing an innovation ecosystem, Rice will bring new business models to other low-resource African markets. In six years, Rice will prevent 85 percent of neonatal deaths in Malawi, producing a sustainable roadmap for rapid adoption across the rest of Africa.”
7. Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee recognize there are 12 million children in the world who have been displaced from their homes due to conflict and persecution. They endure hardships, including limited access to education, loss of family members and continuing violence. The organization aims to provide multimedia content to meet these children’s educational needs and to provide learning opportunities to refugee children and their parents and caregivers who reside in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
“The new educational content will feature the trusted and recognized Sesame Street Muppets—adapted to reflect and mitigate the adverse effects of experiences of refugee children and their parents. Multiple digital delivery platforms plus printed materials will be used to reach the largest possible number of children and their families. The project will tap extensive distribution networks reaching refugee and host communities via schools, community centers, social protection programs and health clinics.”
8. The Carter Center is dedicated to treating river blindness in Nigeria. River blindness, a disease caused by a worm parasite that is spread through the bite of the black fly, affects over 32.7 million people in the world, but is most epidemic in Nigeria. The Carter Center plans to work with the Ministry of Health and other local NGOs to administer ivermectin (Mectizan, Merck), a drug that has proven to stop the transmission of the disease, through community-directed distribution systems.
“The program will train community-level volunteers in the appropriate dosing and administration of the drug and to provide health education to families and neighbors, creating a sustainable, rudimentary health care infrastructure in remote communities.”
Which organization are you rooting for? Let us know in the comments!