Inside Philanthropy: How a Data-Driven Push to End Homelessness Landed MacArthur’s $100 Million Prize

April 8, 2021

Contests and prizes are plentiful in philanthropy, but perhaps no competition better represents the genre than 100&Change. Announced to much fanfare back in 2016, the first round of the MacArthur Foundation’s big $100 million grant contest came to a close at the end of 2017 when Sesame Workshop and International Rescue Committee got the nod. But that wasn’t the end. MacArthur had come to envision 100&Change as a recurring initiative, running roughly every three years. The second round of 100&Change began in 2019 and has spanned a period of far greater domestic tumult than the first.

Now, at long last, we have a winner. Out of six finalists, Community Solutions will receive the grant for its anti-homelessness work in the United States. Specifically, the nonprofit plans to scale up Built for Zero, its data-driven, public-health-informed bid to end homelessness in 75 U.S. communities. In addition to MacArthur’s commitment, the Ballmer Group announced that it will renew its $5.8 million grant to Community Solutions for five years.

“Homelessness is not just a public health issue; it’s also an issue that yields to a public health approach,” said Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions. “This is not a problem of broken people, but of broken systems—fragmented responses to a number of problems that have allowed people to crash through the floor of our safety net.”