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Ohio State’s Global Water Institute among top 100 proposals for MacArthur $100M grant

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled The Ohio State University Global Water Institute as one of the highest-scoring proposals in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges.

100&Change logo above photo of new water well in TanzaniaLack of clean water, secure food sources, hygiene and sanitation has resulted in poverty, malnutrition and disease for over 540 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. An Ohio State-led consortium has successfully piloted a comprehensive systems solution in response to this pervasive problem. From solar-powered wells and agricultural training to sanitation improvements, their Sustainable Village Water System model seeds economic empowerment and promotes health and wellness at the local level. They have proposed expanding this proven model from dozens of rural villages to 250 across Tanzania and neighboring countries.

“This top 100 distinction not only brings attention to the critical need for reliable access to clean water in Tanzania, but also serves as recognition of an innovative, sustainable systems model that has the potential to meet the most basic of human needs while transforming the trajectory of communities for generations,” said Global Water Institute Executive Director Marty Kress. “Our model exists and thrives through deep partnerships at the local level and with strong support of the Tanzanian government. We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for shining a spotlight on this important work.”

The 100 proposals represent the top 21 percent of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a peer-to-peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges, and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.

Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from these high-scoring proposals this spring.

MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

In the inaugural round of 100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to focus more on building a foundation for future success for millions of young children. Since the first competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants.

Summaries of the top 100 proposals, including Global Water Institute’s, can be viewed on Bold Solutions Network, launched today by MacArthur Foundation affiliate Lever for Change.