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 11 organizations in six countries will receive the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Awards recognize exceptional Foundation grantees and help ensure their sustainability with grants of $350,000 to $1 million each, a large sum given that recipients' annual operating budgets are under $5 million.
The organizations' missions are diverse – from protecting biodiversity in Bhutan to fighting poverty in the U.S., from analyzing how tax policy impacts people to improving maternal and child health among India's impoverished. Still, they have much in common. All are highly creative and effective organizations that have made a remarkable impact in their fields, driving significant change on modest budgets. Groups will use their awards for a range of purposes, including purchasing office space, upgrading technology, and constructing a library and conference space.
"These exceptional organizations effectively address pressing national and international challenges and they have had an impact that is disproportionate to their small size," said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. "The MacArthur Foundation is proud to recognize them. It is our hope that these Awards will help position them for long-term growth and even greater impact in the years ahead."
The recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions are:
- Action Research & Training for Health – Rajasthan, India ($350,000) Promotes sexual and reproductive health, neonatal and child health, and health systems and policy in India’s predominantly rural Rajasthan state.
- Arms Control Association – Washington, District of Columbia ($500,000) Works to reduce the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons through analysis, research, and outreach.
- Bay Area Video Coalition – San Francisco, California ($1,000,000) Works at the intersection of film, digital media, and technology to help artists and film producers create civic-minded media projects that reach broad audiences and that educate and inspire action.
- National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities – Chicago, Illinois ($350,000) Supports the well-being and political and social empowerment of immigrants in the U.S. and in their home countries through public dialogue, policy work, and transnational organizing.
- REDRESS – London, United Kingdom ($500,000) Fights for justice for torture survivors by holding perpetrators and complicit governments accountable, monitoring compliance with international law, and helping victims gain greater involvement in national and international justice processes.
- The Royal Society for Protection of Nature – Thimphu, Bhutan ($350,000) Is Bhutan’s only national non-profit focused primarily on the conservation of the country’s famed environment and biodiversity.
- Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law – Chicago, Illinois ($1,000,000) Is a leader in fighting poverty and advocating for low-income people across the U.S., through policy development, litigation, public education, information sharing, legal work, and media outreach.
- The Social and Economic Rights Action Center – Lagos, Nigeria ($350,000) Is a leading African organization that protects the internationally-recognized economic, cultural, and social rights of marginalized people through advocacy, mediation, and litigation.
- Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer – Mexico City, México ($750,000) Protects the rights of Mexican women – with a focus on the reproductive rights and health of rural indigenous women – through leadership development, advocacy, and grantmaking.
- The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center – Washington, District of Columbia ($1,000,000) Provides non-partisan, credible information on tax policy and the outcomes of different tax proposals.
- The W. Haywood Burns Institute – San Francisco, California ($750,000) Works to improve the well-being of low-income youth, youth of color, and their communities by reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
In making these 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 under $5 million; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.
Winners of the Award with operating budgets under $750,000 receive $350,000 grants. Those with operating budgets between $750,000 and $1.5 million receive $500,000. Those with operating budgets between $1.5 million and $3 million receive $750,000. And those with operating budgets between $3 million and $5 million receive $1 million.
MacArthur has a long history of strengthening 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.
Improving maternal, neonatal, and child health among India's marginalized
Action Research & Training for Health (ARTH) promotes sexual and reproductive health, neonatal and child health, and health systems and policy in India's predominantly rural Rajasthan state. ARTH demonstrates 24x7 rural delivery and newborn care, trains skilled birth attendants, and operates referral systems for complications, increasing women's access to maternal care.
India leads the world in the number of women who die during childbirth – with a fifth of the global total – as women throughout rural, impoverished regions often deliver at home without a trained attendant. In 1997 the husband and wife team of Dr. Sharad D. Iyengar, a public health specialist and pediatrician, and Dr. Kirti Iyengar, a gynecologist, formed ARTH to help address this crisis. ARTH offers field-based health services in two districts with an impoverished rural and tribal population of 58,000, while carrying out research, training, and advocacy work across the state of Rajasthan, with a population of 66 million. ARTH's innovations include the promotion of task-shifting, wherein nurse-midwives are trained in rural areas to free up the limited number of physicians to deal with serious complications, while increasing the total number of women receiving care from a trained provider. ARTH's task-shifting work has been embraced and replicated by the Rajasthan government, which contracted ARTH to train "master trainers" who then train skilled birth attendants statewide. In 2007, ARTH founded a School of Midwifery Practice and Training in Primary Health Care, and it advises the Indian government and the World Health Organization on rural health issues.
Action Research & Training for Health will use its $350,000 award to purchase permanent office space, complete its field campus, and contribute to its endowment.
A watchdog and advocate for preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism
Washington, District of Columbia
The Washington, D.C.-based Arms Control Association works to reduce the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. It does so through analysis, research, and outreach, including making information about nuclear and international security issues accessible to non-experts through its monthly journal Arms Control Today.
How can we move closer to a world without nuclear weapons? With Senate approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, what further nuclear disarmament steps should be pursued? How can we better contain the spread of nuclear weapons-related technology as more states pursue nuclear power production? These are among the difficult questions addressed by the Arms Control Association, which publishes reports and issue briefs and arranges briefings for diplomats, policymakers, journalists, industry insiders, and citizens. The association keeps nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons issues in the public eye and informs the national debate on arms control, nonproliferation, and nuclear security. It documents compliance with arms control agreements, sheds light on overlooked threats, and explains the weapons-related capabilities of states such as Iran and North Korea. A leading voice for four decades, the association aims to expand its reach to a broader international audience and its capacity to disseminate news and analysis on arms control issues in the digital age.
The Arms Control Association will use its $500,000 award to establish an operating reserve and to develop and execute a communications plan and a strategic plan for donor outreach.
An innovator in media and technology for the public good
San Francisco, California
The Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) works at the intersection of film, digital media and technology to help artists and film producers create civic-minded media projects that reach broad audiences to educate and inspire action.
In The Waiting Room, a project supported by and developed at BAVC, residents of Oakland, California describe their health care challenges while waiting to be treated in the emergency room of Highland Hospital. This documentary film explores how inner-city public hospitals are overwhelmed and overcrowded by primary care and trauma patients, many without health insurance. This is one of the many honest and evocative works assisted by BAVC, which has long supported a diverse range of public interest and social issue documentaries and non-fiction storytelling.
BAVC is now transitioning from a training-based organization to a national driver of media innovation and experimentation, expanding on its long-standing aim of helping independent media artists utilize new technology platforms. BAVC's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies trains experienced filmmakers to use cross-platform approaches – including mobile applications, video games, interactive web-based projects and multi-user communities – to increase the reach of their documentary work. Its projects also include the Impact Dashboard, an online tool that uses social media to help track and measure response to their film, audio documentary, or online programs.
The Bay Area Video Coalition will use its $1 million award to create an endowment and innovation fund and support its move to more spacious and affordable headquarters suitable for public events.
The voice of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants across borders
The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) supports the well-being and political and social empowerment of immigrants in the U.S. and in their home countries through public dialogue, policy work, and transnational organizing.
The money that immigrants working in the U.S. send to relatives back home is an economic bedrock in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. New homes, clinics, and schools are built and small businesses are launched thanks to these remittances. And, many immigrants plan to ultimately move back home. So NALACC helps to raise the profile of these immigrants to facilitate their dialogue and interactions with their home country governments at the local, regional and national levels, while also helping to ensure immigrants in the U.S. are treated fairly and are recognized for their economic and cultural contributions. Founded in 2004 in Chicago, NALACC has 72 member organizations in 12 states and is one of the largest immigrant-led organizations in the country, providing an important complement to Washington-based immigration reform groups, many of which are headed by non-immigrants. NALACC helps immigrant leaders and policymakers in the U.S. and Latin America better understand global migration trends through research, networking, and advocacy.
The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities will use its $350,000 award to create an operating reserve, allowing it to increase its use of social media, expand its geographic reach, and develop new training materials for immigrant leaders regarding global migration.
Seeking justice for survivors of torture and other serious human rights abuses
London, United Kingdom
REDRESS fights for justice for torture survivors by holding perpetrators and complicit governments accountable for their responsibilities, monitoring compliance with international law, and helping victims gain greater involvement in national and international justice processes, including the International Criminal Court.
The London-based group files legal cases and advocates for individuals and communities affected by torture and related violence around the world. In Sudan, scores of displaced persons living in the Soba Aradi camp near Khartoum were beaten, tortured, and killed as police tried forcibly to relocate several thousand families. REDRESS and its partners filed a complaint with the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and now, for the first time, these actions are being examined. In Nepal, victims of torture, forced disappearance, and killings during the recent conflict have a voice thanks to claims filed before the United Nations' Human Rights Committee by REDRESS and its local partners. When alleged war criminals are brought before international courts, victims are often not involved in the proceedings. But victims are able to tell their stories before the International Criminal Court today thanks in part to the work of REDRESS.
REDRESS will use its $500,000 award to increase security and thus expand its reach in post-conflict situations; to increase its expertise in realms including gender, trauma, refugees and displaced persons; to expand media outreach; and to contribute to its operating reserve.
Protecting Bhutan's rich biodiversity
The Royal Society for Protection of Nature is Bhutan's only national non-profit focused primarily on the conservation of the country's famed environment and biodiversity. The Society does so through conservation, education, outreach, and sustainable development.
The Royal Society protects the Phobjikha Valley, immense wetlands that are home to endangered species including hundreds of globally threatened black-necked cranes. These wetlands also serve as a crucial biological corridor connecting the Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park with two other national parks. The sensitive and ecologically important region falls outside Bhutan's national protected areas, so conservation driven by private organizations and involving the public is paramount. The Society educates and encourages Bhutanese residents to take leadership roles in protecting their environment, partnering with government and civil society in projects, and making small grants. The Society also promotes sustainable ecotourism, alternative energy, and gender equity, helping people live in harmony with the environment. Their efforts have outfitted more than 200 homes, monasteries, and other buildings with solar photovoltaic panels, and provided women with solar water heaters, one-pot hole mud stoves, rain barrels, and other technologies that make their lives easier while also offering environmental benefits. The society's work becomes ever more important in light of political changes and the country's expanding economy.
The Royal Society for Protection of Nature will use its $350,000 award to contribute to its endowment, create an operating reserve, and construct a public library and conference center.
Fighting poverty through legal aid, advocacy, and education
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is a leader in fighting poverty and advocating for low-income people across the U.S., through policy development, litigation, public education, information sharing, legal work, and media outreach.
Low-income people face countless legal challenges, from housing discrimination to custody battles to bureaucratic tangles in accessing social services. But indigent people usually do not have the resources to hire lawyers to protect their rights or help them navigate complicated systems. Since its founding by Sargent Shriver in 1967, the National Center on Poverty Law has helped poor people gain quality legal representation. Started as a network for lawyers representing indigent clients, the Chicago-based center also does national advocacy and policy work and fosters local and statewide programs that serve as national models. It helped Illinois access federal stimulus funds for the "Put Illinois to Work" program, providing temporary employment for 25,000 people. It is a member of the Illinois Responsible Budget Coalition seeking state budget reform and of the National Transitional Jobs Network that helped secure the first dedicated federal funding stream for a jobs program targeting those hardest to employ. The Center publishes Clearinghouse Review, the nation's premier journal for legal aid attorneys and advocates. A blog, e-newsletters, presentations, and reports also help raise awareness of poverty issues and inform law and policy on topics including public housing, welfare reform, child care, and affordable housing.
The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law will use its $1 million award to create an operating reserve ensuring future financial stability and investment income, to facilitate key technology upgrades, and to augment fundraising and communications capabilities.
Protecting the social and economic rights of marginalized people in Nigeria
The Social and Economic Rights Action Center in Nigeria is a leading African organization protecting the internationally-recognized economic, cultural, and social rights of marginalized people through advocacy, community organizing, mediation, and litigation.
The Ogoni people of the Niger Delta have long suffered violent attacks and extreme environmental contamination linked to foreign oil companies. In 2001 the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights issued the landmark ruling that the Ogoni's economic, cultural, and social rights were being violated. This ruling was among the high-profile successes of the Social and Economic Rights Action Center, which lets people know these rights exist and then helps protect them. Economic, social, and cultural rights are recognized by international law but are not as easily enforced as civil and political rights. The Center plays a critical role in seeking redress for communities and individuals who have been forcibly evicted from their homes, educates marginalized people and the general public on the specifics of economic, social, and cultural rights, and is an important resource for judges, lawyers, journalists, and activists. The Center also gives people a voice in the development of policies that affect them. Staff broker meetings between businesses, government entities, international development agencies, and embattled communities. When dialogue is not enough, the center supports communities in public campaigns and lawsuits to address injustices. Current efforts include upholding the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and combating widespread forced evictions in many Nigerian cities.
The Social and Economic Rights Action Center will use its $350,000 award to build and supply a resource, documentation, and conference center. The center, including a library, will be a meeting place for those involved in rights work and also a repository for documentation of rights violations.
Empowering indigenous women in Mexico
Mexico City, México
Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer (Mexican Society for Women's Rights, or Semillas, "Seeds") promotes the rights of Mexican women – with a focus on the reproductive rights and health of rural indigenous women – through leadership development, advocacy, and grantmaking.
Indigenous women in Mexico often have little control over their reproductive lives, living in patriarchal communities with scant access to needed health services. Women in the impoverished southern states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas have among the country's worst reproductive and sexual health indicators. Semillas is working to change that by training and supporting a cadre of indigenous women to become outspoken leaders and educators in their communities and on national and international levels. One of these young leaders, from Chiapas, developed a safe pregnancy planning program that was included in 2008 federal policy and also testified before Congress about the need for increased maternal health services. Thanks to Semillas's work, these indigenous women have a voice in the development of federal policies that affect them. Semillas aims to launch similar programs in other hard-hit states. Along with its focus on reproductive health, the organization more broadly promotes women's rights and women's economic autonomy, including advocacy for labor rights and property rights in indigenous communities.
The Sociedad Mexicana Pro Derechos de la Mujer will use its $750,000 award to support its endowment and to purchase permanent office space in Mexico City, as an investment and a venue for large gatherings and use by partner organizations.
Analyzing how tax policy impacts people
Washington, District of Columbia
The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, provides non-partisan, credible information on tax policy and the outcomes of different tax proposals.
During heated debate over the future of Bush-era tax cuts, people heard vastly different views of what ending or continuing various cuts would mean for the country’s future. In a highly polarized political environment, many people did not know whom to believe. The Tax Policy Center was there to help. The Center provides non-partisan, expert but common language analysis of the likely implications of tax policies and proposals, making it a key resource for journalists, policymakers, and citizens. The Center developed its own innovative model to analyze distributional burdens of the federal tax system and to estimate the results of proposed policy changes. During the 2008 presidential race, thousands viewed the center’s analysis of the tax proposals of both candidates. In 2010, the Center analyzed tax reform options for the President’s fiscal commission and a parallel private effort. It also published 60 papers, research reports, and commentaries and was cited hundreds of times by media outlets, pundits, and blogs. Its blog TaxVox was named one of the nation’s most influential blogs by The Wall Street Journal.
The Tax Policy Center will use its $1 million award to establish an operating reserve, increase its research and analysis output, upgrade its micro-simulation computer modeling, and strategically position itself for the future.
A data-driven advocate for juvenile justice reform
San Francisco, California
The San Francisco-based W. Haywood Burns Institute works to improve the well-being of low-income youth, youth of color, and their communities by reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system.
Youth of color comprise approximately 70 percent of those in the juvenile justice system, though they are only 38 percent of the total U.S. youth population. This disparity occurs because youth of color are often punished more severely than white youth, even for the same offenses. Youth of color are also often incarcerated for minor non-violent infractions for which white youth receive alternatives to detention. Involvement in the juvenile justice system has long-lasting, harmful effects on youth of color and their disproportionately low-income families. Many justice systems do not provide adequate education, counseling, and security for the youth in their care. Systemic involvement also creates barriers to higher education, job placement, access to financial aid and public benefits, and military service. The W. Haywood Burns Institute engages communities, policymakers, and juvenile justice administrators in dialogue and research to reshape policies, procedures, and practices with a data-driven, consensus-based approach aimed at improving the effectiveness and fairness of juvenile justice. The Institute’s work in more than 40 jurisdictions has yielded measurable reductions in systemic economic and racial disparities. The Institute provides juvenile justice and other agencies nationwide with the methodology and strategies to help them evaluate their own systems and reduce unequal impacts.
The W. Haywood Burns Institute will use its $750,000 award to augment its operating reserve and to create an online technical assistance training center that will help jurisdictions better utilize the Institute's tools and methods.