Continuing its tradition of encouraging creativity and building effective institutions to help address some of the world’s most challenging problems, MacArthur announced today that eight organizations in six countries will receive the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

These nonprofit organizations have diverse missions – from helping public radio thrive in the digital age to defending human rights in Nigeria to seeking a more fair juvenile justice system in the United States. Still, they have much in common. All are highly creative and effective organizations that have made an extraordinary impact in their fields, while driving significant change on a modest budget. Each organization will receive up to $500,000, a large sum considering their annual budgets are under $2.5 million. The organizations will use their new funding for a range of purposes, including purchasing new office space, developing training and research facilities, upgrading technology, and undertaking new research.

“From its founding, MacArthur has sought out people and organizations that have the creativity, energy and breadth of vision to change the world for the better,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “These imaginative and influential small organizations have an impact altogether disproportionate to their size. They are addressing problems and injustices, finding fresh solutions, and proving themselves as leaders and innovators.”

The 2008 recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions are: 

Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montana, TlachinollanGuerrero State, Mexico
By defending minority communities and bringing violators of human rights to justice, Tlachinollan is strengthening Mexico’s civil society and building a stronger system of justice. 

Juvenile Law CenterPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
Advocates for the rule of law to provide a voice for children, ensuring fair, developmentally appropriate solutions through legal advocacy, policy change and public education. Its efforts have helped change the public conversation about juvenile justice.

Kazan Human Rights Center  Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation
Employing a strategy of targeted litigation, it has brought widespread attention to the issue of police abuse. The Center calls on Russia’s legal system to observe the spirit of the law and defend the vulnerable. 

Legal Defence and Assistance Project Lagos, Nigeria
The Project offers support and legal assistance to political prisoners and defends human rights for all. By reforming the administration of criminal justice, and training government officials, it is instilling respect for the law as a key element of a healthy democracy. 

Project Match - Chicago, Illinois
Project Match’s workforce development research has provided a more complete understanding of the challenges faced by those trying to find work, helping to make individuals and families more self-reliant and secure. 

Public Radio Exchange (PRX)/Station Resource Group Cambridge, Massachusetts
By gathering and distributing new programming and using technological innovation to expand content choices, PRX is leading public radio to become more interactive, diverse, and participatory. 

Sangath Goa, India
Sangath is a leader in child development, adolescent and family guidance, and behavioral and psychosocial health services, providing direct services and conducting research to benefit India’s 350 million 10 to 24 year-olds. 

Tany Meva FoundationAntananarivo, Madagascar
One of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, Madagascar is also home to more than 20 million people, the bulk of whom live in poverty. Tany Meva, the nation’s first environmental foundation, seeks to increase sustainable use of the environment, to educate and empower communities and to save the threatened forests.

In making these Creative and Effective Institutions awards, the Foundation does not seek or accept nominations. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; have budgets of less than $2.5 million per year; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs. Approximately 1,000 organizations worldwide are eligible for the Award.

On June 12, winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at MacArthur’s headquarters in Chicago. The Foundation will also host seminars to highlight the work of these organizations. The sessions will be open to other nonprofit institutions, providing an important opportunity for mutual learning.

MacArthur is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to building a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world. With assets of $6.8 billion, the Foundation makes grants of approximately $260 million each year.

The MacArthur Foundation is known for the MacArthur Fellows Program, which celebrates individual creativity. Each year, 25 people in diverse fields receive an unexpected phone call granting them a $500,000 no-strings-attached grant. MacArthur also has a long history of building institutions – from Human Rights Watch, now the largest U.S.-based human rights organization, to the World Resources Institute, the environmental think tank, to Creative Commons, which has changed the way we use and think about copyrights.

Read the press release in Spanish (PDF)

MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions