Special Projects

Current Special Projects

  • 100&Change Finalists: Four Impactful Solutions

       “The proposals are creative, ambitious, and driven by a passion to make the world a better place for millions of people. Together, they demonstrate that, even in challenging social and political times, solutions are possible and worthy of significant investment.” — MacArthur President Julia Stasch     More ›

  • 100&Change Semi-Finalists: Eight Bold Solutions

    “These eight ambitious proposals exemplify the passion, range, and creativity of the hundreds of applications. We hope that the competition inspires individuals and organizations to be bold and think big, because solutions are possible.” — MacArthur President Julia Stasch  More ›

  • 40 Years, 40 Stories

      "Effective philanthropy depends on optimism that the world can indeed be a better place. Our optimism is fueled by the courage, ambition, creativity, perseverance, and concern for the common good of the many individuals and organizations around the world that we are honored to support." — Julia Stasch, MacArthur President -->Read full introduction ›   When the MacArthur Foundation was created, John D. MacArthur famously said, "I made the money; you guys will have to figure out what to do with it." With that unusual freedom, for 40 years, dedicated, passionate board members and professionals in our Chicago and international offices have supported creative and effective organizations working to seize opportunities for transformative change. These organizations address some of the most daunting challenges faced by the city, the nation, and the world. During this time, we awarded more than $6.8 billion to nearly 10,000 organizations and individuals in 116 countries and all 50 U.S. states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Over time, our priorities and approaches have changed, but our commitment to core values remains:   Advance justice – focus on the essential condition for universal human dignity, equitable opportunity, and shared prosperity Be ambitious – recognize that seemingly intractable problems require bold action Pursue impact – aim for transformative change in areas of profound concern Use all tools – creatively employ multiple structures, approaches, and methods Take risk – embrace philanthropy's distinctive role to provide society's risk capital Act with urgency – understand that delay diminishes the potential for impact Listen carefully – ensure that strategies for change support the leadership and reflect the views of affected individuals and communities Take the long view – acknowledge that sustainable change requires a long-term commitment   Learn – inquire and adapt as conditions change Share – broadly distribute information that others find useful, and Embrace humility – remember that philanthropy supports, nurtures, enables, and amplifies the efforts of those who actually do the hard work of constructive change Effective philanthropy depends on optimism that the world can indeed be a better place. Our optimism is fueled by the courage, ambition, creativity, perseverance, and concern for the common good of the many individuals and organizations around the world that we are honored to support. The collection that appears throughout this year shares 40 stories that illustrate their achievements and our history.  --> Check back regularly for additional stories.  More ›

  • Chicago Stories

    We are proud to support and work with hundreds of creative and effective Chicago organizations that are helping to address some of the region’s most pressing social challenges and to ensure a vibrant cultural and community infrastructure. Here are stories of the important and impactful work of just some of our Chicago-area grantees.  More ›

  • Civic Partnerships

    Overview Chicago’s civic landscape is notable for its broad network of philanthropic, corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations. Civic partnerships leverage the collective assets of these leaders and organizations for greater impact. Our Approach MacArthur is part of a network of local funders that often come together to support major civic endeavors. These may address a unique opportunity, such as the establishment of a visitor center at the Pullman National Monument, or the dedication of a living monument to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Marquette Park. We also join timely, issue-focused civic partnerships. Building on activities initiated in the prior year, in 2017, we joined more than 30 peer funders in a cooperative effort called the Partnership for Safe and Peaceful Communities. The Partnership is a coalition of philanthropic organizations that align their funding around strategies to help reduce gun violence in Chicago in collaboration with community, public, and private sector leaders.  The Partnership supports three broad strategies—direct engagement services and alternatives for those most affected by violence in targeted neighborhoods; police legitimacy and reform; and gun policy—to help create the conditions for violence prevention and reduction. In addition, to support smaller organizations working during the summer at the neighborhood and block level to build community cohesion, crowd out violence, and promote safety and peace, members of the Partnership support the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities. Measurement & Evaluation The Chicago Commitment is in the process of engaging an evaluation and learning partner to measure and evaluate the progress of the strategy, test assumptions underpinning it, and collect information about the context in which the strategy operates. The focus of these activities is on learning. We aim to understand how the strategy contributes to a Chicago that is more equitable and where justice can thrive. Findings and analysis from evaluation activities will be published as they become available. Additional Areas of Work Influential Leaders › Strong Organizations › Vital Communities › Chicago Commitment strategy ›  More ›

  • Digital Badges

    Digital badges are an assessment and credentialing mechanism that is housed and managed online. Badges are designed to make visible and validate learning in both formal and informal settings, and hold the potential to help transform where and how learning is valued.   More ›

  • Digital Media & Learning Competition

    The 5th annual Digital Media and Learning Competition will provide $2 million for innovations in making a better web.  More ›

  • Digital Media & Learning Research

    Foundation-funded research is contributing to a growing body of evidence about how young people learn today especially with digital media  More ›

  • Discovery Grants

    Discovery Grants were awarded for exceptionally creative or innovative projects with high potential impact, but which do not fit into the Foundation's existing programs and strategies.  More ›

  • Housing Policy Research

    Compelling findings from a range of fields are revealing critical links between housing and other national policy issues.  More ›

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