The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled that a proactive climate resilience system co-developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and BRAC, a leading development organization, was one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition in 2020 for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges.
The MIT/BRAC system, known as the Climate Resilience Early Warning System Network (CREWSNET), aims to empower climate‑threatened populations to make timely, science-driven decisions about their future. Starting with western Bangladesh but scalable to other frontline nations across the globe, CREWSNET will combine leading-edge climate forecasting and socioeconomic analysis with innovative resilience services to enable people to make and implement informed decisions about adaptation and relocation—and thereby minimize loss of life, livelihoods and property.
“Climate change is one of the most urgent threats facing human civilization today, and while the world’s most vulnerable did not create this challenge, they are the first to inherit it,” said John Aldridge, assistant leader of the Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory who serves as a CREWSNET project leader. “We at MIT are excited and proud to have partnered with BRAC, a proven, global leader in humanitarian assistance and development programming, to create a new, proactive model for climate adaptation and individual empowerment.”
“In its earliest days, BRAC worked tirelessly to rebuild communities devastated by climate disasters. Almost fifty years later, we continue to innovate our poverty alleviation and climate change adaptation programming, which reaches tens of millions of people each year. We are thrilled to partner with MIT now to incorporate their advanced technology, research, and scientific capabilities to tackle the myriad of challenges created by climate change, first in Bangladesh and then globally,” said Ashley Toombs, director of External Affairs at BRAC USA, the US-based affiliate, whose portfolio includes climate change adaptation.
The Top 100 represent the top 21 percent of competition submissions. The proposals were rigorously vetted, undergoing MacArthur’s initial administrative review, a Peer-to-Peer review, an evaluation by an external panel of judges, and a technical review by specialists whose expertise was matched to the project.
Each proposal was evaluated using four criteria: impactful, evidence-based, feasible, and durable. MacArthur’s Board of Directors will select up to 10 finalists from among these high-scoring proposals this spring.
“MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”
Since the inaugural competition, other funders and philanthropists have committed an additional $419 million to date to support bold solutions by 100&Change applicants. Building on the success of 100&Change, MacArthur created Lever for Change to unlock significant philanthropic capital by helping donors find and fund vetted, high-impact opportunities through the design and management of customized competitions. In addition to 100&Change, Lever for Change is managing the Chicago Prize, the Economic Opportunity Challenge, and the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award.
Bold Solutions Network Launches
The Bold Solutions Network launched today, featuring CREWSNET as one of the Top 100 from 100&Change. The searchable online collection of submissions contains a project overview, 90-second video, and two-page factsheet for each proposal. Visitors can sort by subject, location, Sustainable Development Goal, or beneficiary population to view proposals based on area of interest.
The Bold Solutions Network will showcase the highest-rated proposals that emerge from the competitions Lever for Change manages. Proposals in the Bold Solutions Network undergo extensive evaluation and due diligence to ensure each solution promises real and measurable progress to accelerate social change.
The Bold Solutions Network was designed to provide an innovative approach to identifying the most effective, enduring solutions aligned with donors’ philanthropic goals and to help top applicants gain visibility and funding from a wide array of funders. Organizations that are part of the network will have continued access to a variety of technical support and learning opportunities focused on strengthening their proposals and increasing the impact of their work.
100&Change is a distinctive competition that is open to organizations and collaborations working in any field, anywhere in the world. Proposals must identify a problem and offer a solution that promises significant and durable change.
The second round of the competition had a promising start: 3,690 competition registrants submitted 755 proposals. Of those, 475 passed an initial administrative review. 100&Change was designed to be fair, open, and transparent. The identity of the judges and the methodology used to assess initial proposals are public. Applicants received comments and feedback from the peers, judges, and technical reviewers. Key issues in the competition are discussed in a blog on MacArthur's website.
In the inaugural round of 100&Change, Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee were awarded $100 million to educate young children displaced by conflict and persecution in the Syrian response region and to challenge the global system of humanitarian aid to focus more on building a foundation for future success for millions of young children.
As a globally preeminent science and engineering institution, MIT has developed world‑leading expertise and capabilities in climate science and high‑resolution forecasting, socioeconomic and resource modeling, and novel power, water and agriculture technologies. Moreover, MIT has for decades created, deployed and maintained decision support systems to inform and empower decision‑makers in the most challenging environments. These technologies have been deployed at scale, and are in use around the world.
BRAC is a leading development organization dedicated to empowering people living in poverty. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC touches the lives of more than 100 million people across 11 countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. BRAC takes a holistic approach to alleviating poverty, running programs in education, healthcare, financial inclusion, women’s and girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, and more.
About BRAC USA
Based in New York, BRAC USA is the North American affiliate of BRAC. BRAC USA provides comprehensive support to BRAC around the world by raising awareness about its work to empower the poor in 11 countries and mobilizing resources to support programs. BRAC USA works closely with its international counterparts to design and implement cost-effective and evidence-based poverty innovations worldwide. BRAC USA is an independent 501(c)(3) organization.