University of Maryland Among Top 100 Proposals for MacArthur $100 Million Grant

University of Maryland Among Top 100 Proposals for MacArthur $100 Million Grant

College Park, MD — The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled that the University of Maryland has one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges. 

The University of Maryland is partnering with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) and CultivAid (Ethiopia). Together, they are joined by Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia), Kathmandu University (Nepal), the Environment and Public Health Organization (Nepal), and the Arava Institute (Israel). This multinational team comprises the Global Alliance for Sustainable Water Reuse, Food and Health, a unique, world-renowned group of agricultural, public health environmental, social/behavioral, engineering and policy experts, working to alleviate global food and water insecurity, improve public health and build resilience to climate change.

More than 870 million people are food insecure worldwide, and climate change is crippling the water and energy resources needed to grow more food. Solutions to increase harvests must address these complex connections between food, energy and water; yet previous efforts have focused largely on only one component.

“Our holistic solution increases yields using less water and energy, improves nutrition and public health, strengthens community-driven empowerment efforts and can be expanded globally,” said Dr. Amy Sapkota, Co-Principal Investigator of the proposal and a professor of environmental health in the UMD School of Public Health. "Our goal is to effect sustainable change at the local level, fostering climate resilience, ensuring water and food security and promoting a healthier future in communities that are currently facing the most critical water and food challenges.” 

To address this goal, the Global Alliance collaborates with vulnerable communities in Ethiopia and Nepal, implementing a threefold, holistic solution comprising: 1) technology- and policy-based interventions including on-farm horticultural, water reuse and renewable energy solutions that increase crop yields while improving water and energy efficiency; 2) community-driven capacity building that leverages local resources, mobilizes women, and cultivates sustainable partnerships; and 3) experiential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education that increases participation by vulnerable populations and prepares future changemakers in food, energy, water and health sectors. 

“The Global Alliance demonstrates the University of Maryland’s growing work across schools, colleges and international partnerships to create innovative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges,” said Ross Lewin, the University of Maryland’s Associate Vice-President of International Affairs. “This is an exciting recognition of the power and potential of global collaboration in higher education.”

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 these high-scoring proposals this spring.

"This is exactly what a 21st century public research university should do - work collaboratively to perform transformative research with the potential to improve the lives of people all over the globe," said Dr. Laurie Locascio, UMD's Vice President for Research. "We are hopeful that our place in the Top 100 of the 100&Change competition will pave the way for us to make real progress in the areas of food and water security and public health."

 “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.


February 24, 2020

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