A Letter from our CEO

This month, Cecilia highlights the Yield Giving Open Call, Ahlan Simsim, the LEGO Foundation, members of our network in Asia, and the case for greater transparency in philanthropy.

Dear Friends,

We’re off to a great start in 2024 and have some exciting developments to share with you!

In case you missed it, we recently announced the awardees of MacKenzie Scott’s Yield Giving Open Call, which was managed by our team at Lever for Change. On March 19, exceeding all expectations, Yield Giving announced that 361 organizations received $640 million for their work with people and in places experiencing the greatest need in the U.S.

This cohort of 361 outstanding teams from 38 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will enable individuals and families to achieve substantive improvement in their well-being through foundational resources. These community-led, community-focused organizations work in urban and rural settings, with individuals of all ages, focusing on a wide range of issues. Yet, they share a common sense of purpose: the Open Call awardees are all making positive change in their communities by reducing disparities in economic outcomes, education, health, and other critical issues.

Even better than seeing this great news spread around the country—through local outlets and national platforms like the Associated Press and even Good Morning America—was witnessing the joy and determination that this funding sparked in so many communities.

This past month was a special milestone for us, as Lever for Change and our colleagues at the MacArthur Foundation celebrated the five-year mark since Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee received $100 million in the inaugural 100&Change competition. We celebrated together at our offices in Chicago, with an overview of what the funding has helped achieve so far.

Even better than seeing this great news spread around the country, was witnessing the joy and determination that this funding sparked in so many communities.

Cecilia Conrad

Over five years, Ahlan Simsim (“Welcome Sesame” in Arabic, an award-winning locally produced version of Sesame Street) has reached one million children with direct services, and a staggering 23 million children have benefited from their television programming. These services will have an enduring effect on children's learning and socio-emotional development, and on their communities for years to come. It’s been a remarkable journey, which my colleague, Kristen Molyneaux, recently discussed with Alliance Magazine. Stay tuned, because we will have some related news to share with you soon!

In the meantime, we are also partnering with the LEGO Foundation to find funding for the bold solutions that surfaced in the recent Build of World of Play Challenge. We have co-created a Solutions Hub, which is a continuation of the LEGO Foundation's commitment to ensure children globally are given opportunities to learn through play. The Solutions Hub features the top 24 ideas that emerged from the Challenge after a multi-stage process with over 600 applications from 86 countries. If you or anyone in your network is interested in learning more or investing in these organizations and communities, let us know.

In this edition of our newsletter, you’ll also see a selection of highly ranked teams working in Asia that we surfaced through our challenges. These nineteen nonprofits are designated “ready for funding” by Lever for Change. Each organization featured on the list has successfully navigated a meticulous vetting process, showcasing the robustness of their ideas, and approach, as well as the impact of their work in communities across Asia. We would be happy to share more information with you, if you are interested in funding any of these bold solutions.

Last, but not least, my colleague, Jeff Ubois, has co-authored a passionate opinion piece in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, making the case for increased transparency in philanthropy to help build trust with donors, encourage collaboration among organizations, and facilitate better decision-making. We are collaborating with the Innovation Information Initiative, MIT Solve, and MIT Open Learning, among others, to explore innovative ways of leveraging technology in grantmaking.

This is one of many recent articles featuring Lever for Change in the news. Earlier this year, we were mentioned in The Economist’s special edition on philanthropy, which I highly recommend reading. In addition to the extensive media coverage, we’re continuing to get the word out in-person about the great organizations in our network. Our team will attend major conferences and events throughout the spring. Check out the list at the end of this newsletter and be sure say hello if you see us around town.

Whether or not we meet in person, we invite you to join us. Whether you're an individual inspired to make a difference, a community leader eager to collaborate, or a donor looking to amplify impact, your role in this journey is vital. Your engagement, support, and funding fuel our pursuit of a brighter, more equitable future.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Cecilia Conrad,
CEO, Lever for Change

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