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The toothpick project among top 100 proposals for macarthur $100 million grant

High-scoring 100&Change applications featured in Bold Solutions Network

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled that Welthungerhilfe’s Toothpick Project is 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.

Tackling Striga (witchweed), Africa’s worst pest threat to food security, the Toothpick Project improves crop yield through a state-of-the-art locally sourced bio-herbicide innovation. The safe and effective technology was developed by Dr David Sands at Montana State University. With funding support from Dr Peter Lüth, laureate of the German Environmental Award, and the DBU (German Environmental Foundation) Welthungerhilfe launched the Kenyan Toothpick Project in 2017 to pilot the deployment of the technology through a social enterprise.

The 100&Change proposal is designed to transfer the bioherbicide application by rapidly building the capacity of science teams and commercial networks in sixteen other African countries. The project, led by Welthungerhilfe, is an excellent example of public:private partnership, celebrating the collaborative efforts of government research organisations, NGOs, community-based organisations, and private enterprise – all working together to improve food security (Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger). 

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 proposalsthis spring.

"Selection for the Top 100 is an honour – and evidence that our project has tremendous potential," says Mathias Mogge, CEO of Welthungerhilfe. "Being promoted on the Lever for Change Bold Solutions Network shows that the MacArthur Foundation has a sincere interest in helping important solutions accelerate their impact."

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 in 2017, 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 customised competitions.

Welthungerhilfe scientists preparing treatment kit for managing the noxious weed Striga © Montana State University/Sanchez

Bold Solutions Network Launches

The Bold Solutions Network launched today, featuring The Toothpick Project 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. Organisations 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.

More About 100&Change

100&Change is a distinctive competition that is open to organisations 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.

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