Since joining the foundation three years ago, I've been inspired, challenged and humbled on a daily basis. And, while I hardly need a reminder of why I do this work, I recently had an experience that reinforced everything I love about the foundation's mission. I got to call ten organizations and personally tell them they had won a $100,000 grant as part of the Grand Challenges Explorations (GCE) program. This program rewards bold and innovative thinking about solutions to difficult global development challenges.
In February, we put a call out to the world asking for creative ideas to help change the narrative of global development, and to highlight stories of success: Aid is Working: Tell the World. We had never provided a communications challenge for GCE and I honestly didn't know what the response would be. It turned out to be phenomenal.
I was overwhelmed by the quality of entries. We received nearly 1,000 ideas from 85 countries. The final ten, which we will officially announce next month, take completely different approaches to the challenge, but each of them demonstrates the undeniable power of a creative idea.
As part of Aid is Working, the foundation created a partnership with the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, the organization that represents and awards the best ideas from the global creative community, annually. To help maximize the potential of the grantees' ideas, the Cannes team created a "super agency" made up the most talented creative directors in the world. What made my calls to the grant winners particularly exciting, was letting them know that this group will be available to provide advice and help bring the winning ideas to life at a workshop in November - and beyond.
The Aid is Working grantees represent a breadth of thinking with real potential to truly change the conversation around development. That's why the foundation recently issued another round of this challenge. This time, we are looking for ideas in four categories:
Mobile: We aim to activate emerging mobile networks and engage cell phone users to build support in wealthy economies for development efforts where they are needed most.
Data: We seek new, compelling stories about the impact development efforts are having around the world by producing new analyses of existing data.
Young audiences: We aim to increase youth awareness of global development challenges to help them become informed advocates for solving these important development problems.
The Progress of Development: We seek proposals that show the virtuous cycle of development efforts: how the beneficiaries of aid are becoming self-sufficient, and how countries that were previously received aid are now providing it to other nations.
The next round closes November 7. I'm looking forward to the day when I get to call a new round of great thinkers with good news about their world-changing ideas.