'Audacious Project' Announces Grants Totaling $406 Million

'Audacious Project' Announces Grants Totaling $406 Million

The Audacious Project, a philanthropic collaborative launched earlier this month by TED, a nonprofit devoted "to ideas worth spreading," has announced grants totaling $406 million to seven initiatives.

Seeded with $250 million from the Dalio, Gates, and Skoll foundations; ELMA Philanthropies; Virgin Unite; and Giving Pledgers Laura and John Arnold and Scott Cook and Signe Ostby, in partnership with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bridgespan Group, the Audacious Project will award up to $50 million each to five organizations annually. Announced this week at the annual TED Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, the five winning projects include the New York City-based Bail Project, which is working to end mass incarceration among the poor by scaling its bail fund model nationally over the next five years; and GirlTrek in Washington, D.C., which will use the funds to train frontline public health activists to identify and disrupt disease and inspire a culture of physical activity among African-American women in fifty high-need communities.

The other grantees announced by the project are Sightsavers, which has a plan to eliminate trachoma — a bacterial infection that causes people to go irreversibly blind — within a generation through its SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, face-washing, and environmental improvements); the Environmental Defense Fund, which will build and launch a satellite that can track oil and gas methane emissions and empower companies and governments with the data needed to take climate action; and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which will use its grant to uncover the secrets of the mesopelagic, or mid-water region, of the planet's oceans, a mysterious layer that is an integral part of the marine food web and the planetary climate system.

In addition, the project announced that three organizations had received funding before the project was officially launched. The One Acre Fund, a nonprofit social enterprise, is using funding provided by the project to scale its method of bundling services for smallholder farmers in rural sub-Saharan Africa, while Living Goods and Last Mile Health have been working to improve healthcare delivery in East and West Africa, respectively, and will join forces to create Africa's largest network of digitally empowered community health workers. 

Additional funding partners announced by the project this week include Mike and Sukey Novogratz, Randall Mays, Giving Pledgers Joe Gebbia and Craig and Susan McCaw, the Children's Investment Fund, and the UBS Optimus, James Family Charitable, and Robertson foundations.

"This is a new and bold chapter in philanthropic collaboration," said Anna Verghese, executive director of the Audacious Project. "Having spent a decade mobilizing globally impactful projects with the TED Prize, we now have a coalition ready to support some of the world's most heroic and devoted social entrepreneurs as they're asked to dream and collaborate at the most transformative scale possible. The 2018 recipients are forcefully leading the charge in tackling global warming, social injustices, disease and health care. Collectively confronting these daunting challenges is what the Audacious Project is all about and our team is here to support this critical work."

(Photo credit: Bret Hartman)