Managing Director Cecilia Conrad offers several use cases for the 100&Change Solutions Bank, a searchable database of submissions to the 100&Change competition that has become a one-of-a-kind resource for funders, researchers, and the nonprofit sector.
Our original goal for 100&Change, an open competition for a single $100 million grant, was fairly simple: identify a project outside our usual networks that with substantial resources disbursed over a compressed time period (three to five years) could make significant progress in addressing a critical problem. And we succeeded. In December 2017, MacArthur's board of directors selected an early childhood intervention project, a collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee, as the recipient of the $100 million grant. The other three finalists — Catholic Relief Services, HarvestPlus, and the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) — were each awarded grants of $15 million and a commitment from MacArthur to help identify additional sources of funding.
After we launched the competition, however, we realized that 100&Change's open call had an important side benefit: the surfacing of a wealth of ideas for solving problems around the globe, ideas at various stages of development but good ideas nonetheless. We were logging those ideas into a database here at the foundation, but we soon recognized the database could be a public resource serving other funders who might find interesting projects to support, communities looking for innovative solutions to their challenges, and problem-solvers and researchers looking for others with similar interests. So, after a number of conversations and phone calls, we found ourselves collaborating with Foundation Center on the 100&Change Solutions Bank, a searchable (by geography, subject area, keyword, and Sustainable Development Goal) repository of submissions to the 100&Change competition.
View map and explore solutions that need resources ›
Interesting, right? But maybe you're not sure how the Solutions Bank can help you. No problem. Here are four sample use cases:
Hunts Point Alliance for Children
The Solutions Bank can also be a launch point for other kinds of analyses. For example, I recently gave a talk to the National Economic Association, an organization focused on promoting the professional lives of minority economists, and I knew beforehand the audience would be interested in projects that address racial inequality. So, I went to the Solutions Bank and used a combination of keyword searches and built-in filters to identify sixty-two projects focused on racial inequality in the United States. (That is a somewhat subjective count, given it includes projects self-identified as focused on equity and inclusion as well as projects that used "racial inequality" or "racial equity" in the text of their proposals.)
Next, I read each proposal and applied a taxonomy based on three explanations for the persistence of racial disparities frequently cited in economics literature: (a) gaps in human and social capital; (b) market failure; and (c) discrimination and structural/institutional racism.
Using the Solutions Bank for an analysis of this type is labor intensive, but the intelligence I was able to gather was well worth the time invested.
Explore subjects in this interactive diagram ›
The Solutions Bank has limitations. An important one is that it represents a snapshot of the sector at a single moment in time (October 2016). At present, we have no means to update the information as projects evolve. For example, we know from e-mail communications and its website that the Manufacturing Renaissance project, which links manufacturing jobs with education infrastructure to spur community development, has made significant progress over the past year. For our next iteration of 100&Change, we want to think about how to make the database more dynamic. Even with these and other limitations, the Solutions Bank is a one-of-a-kind resource for funders, researchers, and the nonprofit sector. But don't take our word for it – take it for a test drive yourself.
This piece originally ran in PhilanTopic, a Philanthropy News Digest blog.