New $50 Million Gulf Futures Challenge Launched to Support a Safer, More Resilient, and Sustainable Future for the U.S. Gulf Coast Region

A $50 million open challenge designed to discover and invest in bold ideas that apply, translate, or communicate science, engineering, and medical knowledge to address critical challenges in the Gulf.


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program today launched the Gulf Futures Challenge, a $50 million open challenge designed to discover and invest in bold ideas that apply, translate, or communicate science, engineering, and medical knowledge to address critical challenges in the Gulf.

The Challenge seeks innovative solutions at the intersection of three futures: the Future of the Energy Transition, the Future of Environmental Change along the Coast, and the Future of Healthy and Resilient Communities. This is the largest grant opportunity announced in the 11 years of the Gulf Research Program.

Up to ten finalists will receive up to $1 million in project development support and technical assistance to strengthen their proposals. Two of the finalists will be selected to receive awards of $20 million each to implement their solutions.

The Challenge seeks to leverage the inherent talent and knowledge of the people of the Gulf by supporting ideas and solutions from those who understand the region best. At its foundation, it aims to discover and promote experimentation and new ideas that could result in transformational solutions and impacts through the application of knowledge.

“The smart application of scientific, engineering, and medical knowledge is essential for ensuring productivity, health, and sustainability for the communities and critical ecosystems of the Gulf Coast,” said Marcia McNutt, Ph.D., President, National Academy of Sciences. “We are proud to support this challenge, which is tapping into the Gulf’s most valuable resource—the knowledge, creativity, and passion of the people who call it home.”

Nonprofits, local, state, and tribal governments, and academic institutions are eligible to participate as lead organizations, with partnerships and collaborations encouraged. Lead organizations must be based within Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi or Texas, and proposed projects should occur within 100 miles of the U.S. Gulf coastline. Proposals should bridge knowledge to action to produce, inclusive, innovative, and transformative solutions to the key challenges facing the Gulf region. This challenge is not intended to fund infrastructure or restoration projects.

“Challenges like this provide a unique way to surface and support truly innovative ideas and collaborations,” said Lauren Alexander Augustine, Ph.D., Executive Director, Gulf Research Program Division of The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. “The approach we’re taking here is at the cutting edge of philanthropy, and the GRP is looking forward to the creative and transformative solutions that will emerge.”

The Gulf Futures Challenge is being managed by Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that leverages its networks to help donors find and fund bold solutions to the world’s biggest problems.

“The Gulf Futures Challenge is designed to promote collaboration and innovation in the region,” said Cecilia A. Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “We know other funders are paying attention and look forward to sharing with them the great proposals that surface in this challenge to chart a course towards a safer, more resilient and sustainable Gulf Coast—one where everyone thrives."

Interested applicants are invited to visit for more information and take the Organizational Readiness Tool assessment to determine eligibility. Applicants must register to apply by August 20, 2024, at 4 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time. Once registered, applicants must submit an online application by September 20, 2024, at 4 p.m. U.S. Central Daylight Time.


About the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine & the Gulf Research Program (GRP)

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, engineering, and medicine. The National Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln. For more information, visit

The National Academies’ Gulf Research Program is an independent, science-based program founded in 2013 as part of legal settlements with the companies involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment by catalyzing advances in science, practice, and capacity to generate long-term benefits for the Gulf of Mexico region and the nation. The program has $500 million for use over 30 years to fund grants, fellowships, and other activities in the areas of research and development, education and training, and monitoring and synthesis. Visit to learn more.

About Lever for Change

Lever for Change connects donors with bold solutions to the world’s biggest problems—including issues like racial inequity, gender inequality, lack of access to economic opportunity, and climate change. Using an inclusive, equitable model and due diligence process, Lever for Change creates customized challenges and other tailored funding opportunities. Top-ranked teams and challenge finalists become members of the Bold Solutions Network—a growing global network that helps secure additional funding, amplify members’ impact, and accelerate social change. Founded in 2019 as a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Lever for Change has influenced over $2.2 billion in grants to date and provided support to more than 175 organizations. To learn more, visit

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