The Story Behind Selecting Bold Ideas from 100&Change

What do you do with a database of over 1,900 solutions to the world’s most pressing problems? That’s the question Kat Rosqueta, Founding Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP), found herself grappling with last year. Kat was serving as a judge for 100&Change, the MacArthur Foundation’s competition for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. The competition received 1,904 submissions from around the world, but with only one winner and three finalists receiving funding, she began wondering what would happen to all of those other proposals. So Kat reached out to Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of 100&Change and the MacArthur Fellows, to plan a report highlighting the best ideas not selected for funding.

In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton on Sirius XM, Kat and Cecilia spoke about the importance of sharing the ideas from these proposals with the world. According to Kat, “there is knowledge there that could be useful to folks around the world – and since it’s already been organized and vetted by this cast of hundreds [of judges], that’s really valuable information…if we could get it into the hands of potential funders, it could result in even more change than just the one Prize winner.” In order to organize such a large group of ideas, CHIP enlisted the help of “a crack team of analysts” who had all participated as Lipman Family Prize Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania. These analysts used their training from evaluating applications for the Lipman Family Prize to narrow the top 200 applications to 80 and then down to 11 “Best Bet” ideas.

One of these Lipman Fellows, Lindsay Kijewski, recently co-authored an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review about the selection process with CHIP’s Director of Education and Strategic Partnerships, Anne Ferola. In Selecting a Pool of Bold Ideas: How the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy winnowed 100&Change’s Top 200 Entries, Lindsay and Anne chronicle their four-step evaluation process of the applicants, from defining intended social impact to final selection and vetting. They also write, “One of our biggest takeaways was the importance of communicating solutions in a way that is understandable to a wide variety of stakeholders in order to gain the broad support—philanthropic and otherwise—that such solutions deserve.” Like Kat, they are dedicated to making sure that these ideas are shared with donors around the world, so that anyone who cares about an issue will be inspired by the possibility of the proposed ideas.

The final result of the CHIP team’s work is the guide “Bold Ideas for Philanthropists to Drive Social Change: Our selection of entries from the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change.” Designed for anyone looking for innovative ideas to drive social change, the guide is organized into the sections by cause area and geography. Each of the featured 200 proposals includes a description, along with a link to the original MacArthur proposal and video. By sharing this knowledge, CHIP and the MacArthur Foundation hope that this collection of submissions will spark new ideas, collaboration, and support for the work.

Resources and Partners Mentioned:

Knowledge@Wharton Interview with Kat Rosqueta and Cecilia Conrad 

Bold Ideas for Philanthropists to Drive Social Change (Center for High Impact Philanthropy) 

Selecting a Pool of Bold Ideas (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

100&Change Competition (MacArthur Foundation)

The Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize