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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Voices for Economic Opportunity

Deadline: November 13, 2019

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has collaborated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Raikes Foundation to issue Voices for Economic Opportunity through its Grand Challenges Program. The Voices for Economic Opportunity challenge seeks to elevate diverse voices that can help broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness and actionable understanding. Most Americans believe it is right to help others, so that they may have the opportunity to live healthy and productive lives. Yet skepticism exists about the efficacy of anti-poverty programs in the U.S. and deep-seated stereotypes remain about people experiencing poverty and who deserves to rise out of it. Many community practitioners and social movement leaders in the U.S. are already working to address this challenge. Still, there is a need for new ways of bringing personal stories to life to help others better understand why people fall into or remain hindered by barriers that impede their ability to advance and what the obstacles to building and maintaining economic security are.

The Foundation seeks proposals for creative, scalable, strategic new ways to generate awareness of the structural and historic barriers to economic mobility; to communicate that poverty is not just something that happens to other people and everyone is deserving of the chance to move out of it; and to change the predominant misconceptions about poverty in a way that creates the conditions for effective programs and policies to be adopted by the public and private sectors.

Highest priority will be given to proposals that:

  • Highlight barriers to economic mobility as well as the impact of biases, intersectionality, and ideas around deservingness related to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental health, ability, and geography
  • Highlight the voices of individuals experiencing poverty
  • Highlight ideas for distributing these perspectives

The Foundation seeks to fund a portfolio of projects that:

  • Shift the conversation from one that stigmatizes to one that demonstrates “this could be someone I know and value,” signifying a common interest in expanding economic mobility and dignity
  • Move from a depiction of individuals as victims to protagonists with agency who are deserving of opportunity
  • Change from a sole focus on lack of money to money, power, agency, and dignity
  • Pivot from characterizations of personal failures and deficits to the ongoing importance of individual and collective responsibility and a general consensus that the status quo undermines American democracy and society
  • Creatively use citizen voice and data to support communications in a way that generates a deeper understanding of structural and historic barriers to mobility
  • Provide insight into workable solutions for overcoming intersecting stereotypes and deep-seated values of deservingness that generate biases based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, physical and mental health, ability, and geography
  • Engage partners with diverse expertise and types of resources

Types of concepts that will be considered include (but are not limited to):

  • Integrating lessons learned from past or present poverty-alleviation programs, both successes and failures
  • Engaging a range of voices that highlights the causes and consequences of poverty and identifies key windows of opportunity for the most effective change
  • Incorporating technology, digital platform, or social network ideas with demonstrated value in enhancing dissemination in support of positive social change

Amount: Awards of up to $100,000 will be made initially for a 16 month period. Any future rounds of funding will be determined upon completion of the first round.

Eligibility: Unites States-based organizations, including non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, international organizations, government agencies, and academic institutions.

Link: https://gcgh.grandchallenges.org/challenge/voices-economic-opportunity

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