About our Challenges

Customized challenges are a unique and powerful tool for finding and funding bold solutions to the world’s greatest problems. Our goal is to connect donors with problem solvers to provide large-scale, long-term funding and accelerate social change.

Six young women stand in a crowd, holding poster and signs from IGNITE, promoting women's political power. The posters are red and grey, with an image of a wave at the bottom. Their t-shirts are different colors and four of them are wearing sunglasses.
Caption: IGNITE was one of four awardees to receive $10 million from the Equality Can't Wait Challenge. This funding will allow IGNITE to scale its programs and train hundreds of thousands of young women by 2026 to flex their political power as voters, activists, policymakers, commissioners, and candidates.
Credit: IGNITE

Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, Lever for Change creates customized challenges and other tailored funding opportunities. Our transparent, equitable, and effective sourcing model is based on donor commitments of minimum $10 million for an open-call challenge or to help build the strength of a field.

Since our launch, we have developed and managed customized challenges on behalf of a variety of funders and their advisors—from high-profile donors including Pivotal Ventures (Melinda French Gates’ investment and incubation company) to institutional funders like the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, corporate funders such as the LEGO Foundation, and philanthropic advisors like ICONIQ Impact, as well as new and anonymous donors.

These challenges have focused on issues including racial inequity, gender inequality, lack of access to economic opportunity, and climate change. In total, Lever for Change has influenced over $2.2 billion in grants and provided support to more than 175 organizations to date. Our goal is to unlock $2.5 billion in funding for bold solutions by the end of 2025.

Lever for Change is committed to sharing transparent information about our process and providing value to each participant. During our challenges, all valid applications move through the following levels of review, feedback, and diligence:

  • Participatory Review allows applicants to provide and receive feedback from organizations working in similar sectors and locations. Peer feedback can be particularly valuable to applicants, because it is relevant to their day-to-day experience and can give way to new ideas and collaborations.
  • Evaluation Panel feedback from highly regarded professionals provides applicants insights into the strengths and weaknesses of their proposals. For each challenge, a unique panel of evaluators is recruited for experience and subject area expertise relevant to the challenge’s theme. We intentionally recruit panel members to ensure a diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and communities. Panel members include nonprofit leaders, academics, subject experts, grassroots activists, social entrepreneurs, and more, with local, national, and global perspectives. During the Evaluation Panel Review, each application is reviewed by five evaluators who rate the proposal on the challenge criteria and provide written feedback for each applicant. If you would like to be considered as an evaluator, please complete this interest form.
  • Applicants who advance to the finalist stage become members of our Bold Solutions Network. As part of the process, we ask them to submit a full revised proposal and undergo the following additional levels of review, feedback, and diligence:
    • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) feedback can help applicants to strengthen their project and/or team by leveraging the input of key DEIA experts and stakeholders. Not only do we expect teams to be thoughtful about working with a range of beneficiaries, but we also expect teams to think carefully about how to actively plan for and include people who have been marginalized from within those populations in solutions design, program planning, and ongoing work, ensuring the design and implementation a solution authentically embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion across all aspects, including persons with disabilities, religious or ethnic minorities, people of color, native/Indigenous peoples, women, gender identity and sexual orientation.
    • Domain Specific feedback provides organizations with technical feedback that identifies strengths, weakness, and/or gaps in the project, linking to sector trends.
    • Technical Advisor Support provides applicants with actionable, real-time feedback to strengthen their plans and identify strategies for growing their work.
    • Legal/Financial reviews ensure organizations are registered and have effective governance structures. They can also identify any gaps in the health of the organization.
    • Virtual Donor Engagement and Site Visits provide an opportunity for teams to showcase their work on the ground and partnerships in action.
  • Explore current and upcoming challenges and learn more about our model.

Accelerate Positive Change in the World

Join us to find and fund bold solutions that move the world!