On February 20, Plan International USA announced the next step in its campaign toward a $100 million grant: selection as one of the top 100 organizations considered for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation‘s 100&Change competition.
Plan celebrates with 99 other organizations, selected from a pool of almost 4,000 worthy applicants and 800 proposals, all setting out to solve one of the world’s most critical social challenges.
Plan’s challenge? Create a high-quality civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system–called OpenCRVS–capable of closing the gap between the world’s unregistered population and the governments, systems, and organizations that seek to serve them.
According to Dr. Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA, “Five hundred million children have no official identification. Birth registration is one of the basic rights of a child. It is the foundation for protection and well-being and ensuring that every child can learn, lead, decide, and thrive.”
In partnership with Vital Strategies, Jembi Health Systems, Simprints, and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Plan hopes to tackle the “identity crisis” with a CRVS system that helps countries raise revenue, deliver services, and make progress on Sustainable Development Goals by recording major life events. Things like births, deaths, and marriages play a critical role in social growth, change, and the human experience–and when these events go unregistered, governments cannot recognize, protect, or provide for their citizens.
“This project can have a transformational impact on millions of children and prove a scalable model for universal registration globally,” says San Martin. “This bold solution requires bold investment.”
Plan seeks funding for this massive undertaking through the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition. This unique funding opportunity asked for proposals that both address a significant problem and provide a solution–granting a total of $100 million to the top submission.
“Some problems cannot be solved by grants of the size that foundations typically provide,” the Foundation explains on the competition’s website. “By funding at a level far above what is typical in philanthropy, we can address problems and support solutions that are radically different in scale, scope, and complexity. $100 million is a large enough sum to focus on a serious problem and its solution in a meaningful and lasting way. We hope that 100&Change can inspire a conversation about solutions and about how we can solve some of our most significant problems.”
100&Change submissions are graded based on four criteria: the solution must be impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. To date, 3,690 registrants submitted 755 proposals, 475 of which passed an initial administrative review to ensure they met the basic rules and criteria of the competition. Since submission, applicants received feedback from peers, panels of judges, and technical reviewers until 100 proposals–the “Top 100”–were selected by the MacArthur Foundation’s judges.
Today, Plan announced their inclusion in the Top 100–putting them one step closer to $100 million in funding for their CRVS system. The announcement came on the launch day for the Bold Solutions Network, a MacArthur Foundation affiliate designed to promote and amplify the missions of the 100&Change Top 100 and selections from other MacArthur competitions.
Other members of the Top 100 include solutions to combat diseases, feed the hungry, put an end to homelessness, and educate underserved populations.
Of the semi-finalists, about 10% represent causes that work toward the direct support of women and girls. For example, Futures Without Violence submitted “Changing the Game for Girls: Sexual Violence Can Be Stopped,” a public safety project focused on preventing sexual and relationship violence against adolescent girls in sports. Another exciting proposition, “Women-Inspired Strategies for Health (WISH): A Revolution against Cervical Cancer,” seeks to empower marginalized women by providing educational resources and clinical tools to “kickstart a worldwide movement against cervical cancer.”
Other projects include the 1000+ OBGYN Project’s “Eliminating Preventable Maternal Mortality in Sub Saharan Africa,” Grameen’s “Ending the Cycle of Poverty: Financing Low-Income Women Entrepreneurs,” and CAMFED International’s “SISTER: A Scalable Solution to Girls’ Exclusion from Education.”
Organizations appealing for the MacArthur grant represent a range of exciting, noble ventures that support women, girls, and the world at large. However, only one can win the $100 million grant.
By showcasing innovative submissions, the Bold Solutions Network aims to draw visibility and funding to top applicants who do not receive the grand prize. Functioning somewhat like a CRVS system for nonprofit campaigns, this exciting new funding network offers much to be celebrated, collecting some of the most groundbreaking ideas from organizations across the world in one convenient, online network.
“For people to count, they must first be counted,” Plan states. The same holds true for organizations with critical missions.
The team at Philanthropy Women wishes the best of luck to Plan International USA and the other selections in MacArthur’s Top 100. When funding opportunities like this make waves in the philanthropy world, they inspire new ways to join together and implement effective ideas.
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