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The MacArthur Foundation wants bold solutions to big problems — the prize is $100M

In 2017, Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee became the first winners of 100&Change for their work with children in the Middle East<em>.</em> Above, Elmo learns how to fly a kite at Azraq Camp, Jordan.
Ryan Donnell
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Sesame Workshop
In 2017, Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee became the first winners of 100&Change for their work with children in the Middle East. Above, Elmo learns how to fly a kite at Azraq Camp, Jordan.

Any major challenge, in any field, anywhere in the world.

That's what the MacArthur Foundation is looking to solve with its third round of 100&Change, a $100 million grant competition for proposals that tackle, it says, "one of the world's most critical social challenges."

Chris Cardona, managing director of Discovery, Exploration, and Programs at the foundation, said MacArthur hasn't identified specific challenges it hopes grants will address. "It continues to be a global, athematic competition," he said.

The MacArthur Foundation is soliciting bold ideas to solve one of the world's biggest problems. The winning proposal will receive $100 million.
/ MacArthur Foundation
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MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation is soliciting bold ideas to solve one of the world's biggest problems. The winning proposal will receive $100 million.

Instead, the MacArthur Foundation, which also supports NPR, is looking for feasible, evidence-based proposals that provide a solution with deep impact and that have a clear explanation for how they will measure success.

Community Solutions received $100M from the MacArthur Foundation "to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 communities." Erica Holmes interacting with Community Solutions' client Andrew Overby.
/ Community Solutions
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Community Solutions
Community Solutions received $100M from the MacArthur Foundation "to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 communities." Erica Holmes interacting with Community Solutions' client Andrew Overby.

The first two winners were a collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee for their work helping children affected by conflict and crisis in the Middle East, and Community Solutions for a program aiming to end homelessness in 75 U.S. communities within five years.

The finalists for the 100&Change competition will be announced in the spring of 2025.

This story was edited by Jennifer Vanasco.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.