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New York homelessness NFP wins $100M MacArthur Grant


14 April 2021 at 5:05 pm
Nikki Stefanoff
Community Solutions will use the $100 million grant to implement and scale Built for Zero, its data-driven public health approach to ending homelessness.


Nikki Stefanoff | 14 April 2021 at 5:05 pm


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New York homelessness NFP wins $100M MacArthur Grant
14 April 2021 at 5:05 pm

Community Solutions will use the $100 million grant to implement and scale Built for Zero, its data-driven public health approach to ending homelessness.

An organisation working to end homelessness in 75 communities over five years has been announced as the winner of a $100 million grant following a global search for projects that solve society’s most pressing problems.

Launched in 2016, MacArthur’s 100&Change competition is held every three years and open to projects that “promise real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time.” The winner receives a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal.  

“Some problems cannot be solved by grants of the size that foundations typically provide,” the organisation said. 

“By funding at a level far above what is typical in philanthropy, we can address problems and support solutions that are radically different in scale, scope, and complexity. $100 million is a large enough sum to focus on a serious problem, and its solution, in a meaningful and lasting way.” 

When the foundation’s competition launched in 2017, MacArthur’s then president Julia Stasch said that solving society’s most pressing problems wasn’t easy, but they believed it could be done. 

“Potential solutions may go unnoticed or under-resourced and are waiting to be brought to scale,” Stasch said. “Every three years, we plan to award $100 million to help make one of these solutions a reality.”

In 2017, the grant went to Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee to support their Early Childhood Education of Syrian Refugees program. 

Three years later, Community Solutions is on the receiving end of the five-year grant for its Built for Zero project, a methodology based on research, frontline experiences and deep community engagement.

Designed to accelerate an end to homelessness in 75 US communities over five years, Built for Zero uses a data-driven public health approach to change the thinking around homelessness. It’s now been adopted by more than 30 international communities. 

MacArthur president John Palfrey said he believed homelessness is curable. 

“More than 568,000 people experienced homelessness on a given night in the United States, [and that’s] before the pandemic. Community Solutions has proven that people do not have to live this way. Its racially equitable response is primed for this moment,” he said.

Of the win, Community Solutions president Rosanne Haggarty said: “The award is a powerful endorsement of our shared belief that homelessness can and must be solved. 

“It is also a testament to the leadership of communities in Built for Zero that are proving it is possible every day. We are grateful and eager to seize this historic moment in our country to build a future where homelessness is rare and brief.”

The other five finalists for the 2021 grant were:


Nikki Stefanoff  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Nikki Stefanoff is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering Good Business and Social Finance.

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