Big Prize Focused on Educating Girls, Women’s Rights, and Climate

The Roddenberry Prize is looking for applications that will work at the intersection of girls’ education, women’s rights, and climate issues related to creating a plant-rich diet and reducing food waste.

Good news for gender equality philanthropy:  another large prize is taking on gender issues this year. The 2018 Roddenberry Prize will go to four organizations ($250,000 each) that have realizable plans to address problems at the intersection of girls’ education, women’s rights, and climate change.

Not familiar with the Roddenberry Prize? It was launched in the fall of 2016 at the Smithsonian, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, and in 2017, the first prizes were awarded. The Roddenberry Prize is sponsored by The Roddenberry Foundation, which was founded in 2010 with a mission to support “remarkable people and organizations who can disrupt existing dynamics, challenge old patterns of thought, and discover new ways to help us move towards a better future.” You can learn more about the Roddenberry Foundation here.

What’s particularly appealing about the Roddenberry Prize from a feminist philanthropy perspective is its focus on relationships — on the interconnectedness of problems. This year’s awards will focus on the interconnectedness of food waste, plant-rich diets, girls’ education, and women’s rights. These are four of the top ranked issues identified by Project Drawdown’s in its solutions research on global warming.

Another interesting aspect of the Roddenberry Prize from a feminist perspective is its use of Peer-to-Peer Review. This process is aimed at helping you and your organization get quality personalized feedback, so that you can become stronger as a nonprofit.  How it works:  after all first-round applications are submitted and validated, “each organization will receive instructions to score approximately five other applications within their chosen category: (1) Food preparation, consumption, and waste; or (2) Education and rights of women and girls.”

Results from Peer-to-Peer Review will be used to score applications “using an algorithm that ensures a level playing field for everyone,” according to the Prize’s website.  From this process, up to 50 applicants will be invited to submit a Round Two application. Round two will then be whittled down to 30 applications that will be scored by Evaluation Panel judges.

Judges for this year’s Roddenberry Prize include Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of the Global Fund for Women (Musimbi Kanyoro recently wrote a tribute to the legacy of Deborah Holmes, which we published here), Yasmeen Hassan, Global ED for Equality Now, Ambassador Ertharin Cousin, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education.

Interested applicants can register here.

Who Won Last Year’s Roddenberry Prize?

Last year’s inaugural Roddenberry Prize winners were focused on the environment, health, finance, energy, and communication. The contest received over 600 applications, and gave out a $400,000 Grand Prize and four $150,000 Innovation Award prizes.  The Grand Prize winner last year was Opus12, developers of a method to convert industrial CO2 emissions into valuable chemicals and fuels. The Innovation Award winners were:

  • FarmDrive – a finance start-up working in Africa to help small farmers access credit.
  • FastOx – a “waste gasification system” that benefits marginalized communities in the developing world by converting trash into clean energy.
  • SmartStones – a “body language-based sensory tool” that helps non-verbal people, many with autism, to communicate.
  • Cancer Cell Map Initiative – an effort to find new therapies and diagnostic tools for cancer by mapping molecular networks.

Girls’ Education and Women’s Rights: What Exactly Does that Mean in Terms of the Roddenberry Prize’s Vision?

The Roddenberry Prize is aimed at enhancing the impact of more girls receiving a primary education around the world. Their website talks about  several key strategies to improve girls’ education including helping to make school affordable, helping girls address health barriers, ending child marriage, and helping girls learn life skills necessary for adulthood.   You can learn more about strategies that help girls access education on the Prize’s website.

In terms of women’s rights, the Roddenberry Prize is looking for projects that recognize that gender equality and climate change are intricately linked, both large and small ways. With women as the central link to community engagement, parenting, and the domestic realm, they are uniquely positioned to be the leaders of better environmental practices.

The Roddenberry Prize also emphasizes that women need to have reproductive care and access to family planning, education, and financial capital in order to navigate the global economy.  Learn more about key strategies that increase women’s rights on the Prize’s website.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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