, author
Julia M. Stasch
Former President

In the face of global climate change, nuclear security challenges, local conflicts and their political and human consequences, increasing federal debt in the U.S., and police-community relations in American cities that reflect fundamental distrust, it is easy to be disheartened and pessimistic about the future of our communities, our nation, and the world. 

But I believe that solutions to some of our greatest challenges are possible. 100&Change, MacArthur’s competition for a single $100 million grant, reflects that belief. It is designed to encourage and support big ambitions and an impactful approach to tackle a critical problem of our time and, more broadly, inspire hope that solutions are possible. 

Contrary to what one might expect, Americans support this optimistic view; 92 percent agree that “It is possible to find solutions to the most pressing problems facing our nation and the world,” according to a new national post-election poll. The poll was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) and included several questions contributed by MacArthur. Regardless of gender, race, educational background, income, political affiliation — or even whether they voted for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton — the study found that American voters believe that solutions are possible. In fact, 40 percent “strongly” agree that solutions are possible. 

When asked what is “most needed to help solve the most pressing problems facing our nation and the world,” voters resoundingly pointed to “increased collaboration among political leaders” (41 percent). “Greater compassion” and “higher quality education” were the next most popular answers (17 percent, each). 

I am encouraged and inspired by the results of this survey, which signal that voters want real collaboration for the greater good, because with collaboration, solutions are achievable. Even in challenging times, the American spirit of optimism and a collective sense of the possible endure.