100&Change Public Searchable Database Now Available

May 17, 2017
Last month, the MacArthur Foundation released a public searchable database of the 100&Change proposals received during the competition. The database allows other potential funders to search by thematic area, location, and organization name to view proposals that may interest them. This level of transparency and increased opportunity for participants to continue “winning” not just during a competition timeline, but also for months and hopefully years to come is one of the most appealing draws to prize competitions.

For a competition such as 100&Change, the high volume of meaningful solutions proposed is exciting. The public searchable database provides a valuable resource for the participants, other grant makers, as well as society as a whole. As great ideas continue to become available to the public, hopefully more of these impactful ideas can be turned into reality.    

Prize competitions have the ability to provide a fair, open, and transparent process for everyone throughout the competition and not just after winners have been selected. The appreciation for fairness, openness, and transparency allows competition participants to clearly understand what the application requirements are, how their submission will be scored, and who the judging panel will include.

While traditional grantmaking generally includes little opportunity for collaboration, prize competitions offer community engagement directly within the competition itself. Through a collaborative and interactive competition website, it is possible to create community forums and group discussions and facilitate team formation within the group of participants. Additionally, competitions can also use Peer-to-Peer Review, opening up the door for a robust evaluation process consisting both of chosen Evaluation Panel judges as well as those directly participating in the competition.

Promoting collaboration by bringing an unfamiliar community of people together, prize competitions help identify and mobilize new talent. Sometimes, thinking outside of the box is precisely what helps drive innovation and spark new ways of thinking. Prizes strengthen community, whether it be a long-standing community of cohorts in a specific field or a brand new collaboration between disciplines.

100&Change seeks to make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. There will only be one grand prize winner selected to receive $100 million to help solve one significant problem. However, the 100&Change competition, as does any prize competition, provides numerous ways to successfully deliver real and effective positive change across many different aspects of society.  

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MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition Announces Winners

November 7, 2016
Common Pool delivers a fair, open, and transparent experience to our clients, where all participants have access to detailed explanations of the submission requirements, how those efforts are judged, by whom, and using a specific measure of performance. Our research shows that offering detailed descriptions of program requirements drives quality outcomes.

While competition is an important aspect of each program, we also believe that collaboration is equally valuable. We focus attention on benefits to every program registrant and build communities with a shared interest in our intended outcome. We can provide them with tools to enable and promote team-building, online exchange and communication, co-authoring of submissions, and qualified feedback from credible authorities during the judging process. Through this approach, we often realize that many registrants will invest in launching their plans, based on feedback provided during this process, irrespective of their ability to secure financial support through a program (thereby leveraging your resources and increasing the likelihood of a breakthrough).

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), that held their awards ceremony for the inaugural Inclusive Innovation Competition this past September, is an example of our fair, open, and transparent process. The competition recognizes and celebrates organizations that are inventing a more inclusive, productive, and sustainable future for all by focusing on the use of technology to improve economic opportunity for base- and middle-level income earners. At the event, four grand prize recipients were announced from the group of 24 winners. Each grand prize winner was awarded $125,000 and all sixteen runner-ups were awarded $25,000.

Participants competed in four main categories including Skills (how employees were re-skilled for new types of jobs); Matching (how qualified people were connected to new types of jobs); Humans + Machines (how technology is used to augment human labor); and New Models (how new operational practices and business models revolutionize labor markets and job opportunities).  
The MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition resulted in a total of 243 applications from around the world. The applicants covered a wide range of business fields, including coding bootcamps, healthcare innovators, collaborative robotics, farmers innovating in the developing world, and firms using artificial intelligence to empower lower-skilled workers.

Each application received scores and comments from five core judges, whose names and bios are available on the competition website. The judges evaluated the applications based on the four criteria in the customized trait scoring rubric--value, performance, scalability, and vision. We have developed our own algorithm to ensure fairness through a statistical normalization routine so that all applications are treated the same (regardless of which judges are assigned). This process has been praised by the Center for Effective Philanthropy as a valuable technique for measured subjective evaluation.

Our emphasis on a fair, open, and transparent process gives everyone the opportunity to share their ideas, compete for funding and recognition, and above all, to know that all participants are treated and judged fairly. Whether big or small, new or existing, we look forward to assisting your organization in designing and executing an open and transparent process for your next prize competition.

MacArthur Foundation Launches 100&Change Competition

June 13, 2016
Common Pool is thrilled to provide the software platform and supporting services for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition. 100&Change gives applicants the opportunity to compete for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a problem. Visit our website today to learn more about the program at www.100andchange.org

The MacArthur Foundation approached us with an idea. Let’s make a difference with a big bet to deliver real impact. And, most importantly, let’s allow voices from around the world to be heard. But, to make that work, we had to ensure that 100&Change wasn’t just a winner-take-all proposition. To get the most talented organizations to apply, we needed to deliver a process that would offer value to everyone, even those who might participate and not win. And, we needed to make sure that credible authorities from a wide range of sectors see a meaningful opportunity to submit applications by articulating both a societal problem and a proposed solution. With $100 million to implement that solution, we knew that we could put together a program that would attract wide interest. Today, the call to action is clear, and the response has been global.

Big bets require careful steps, and that’s exactly what we’re bringing to the table. Our Common Pool team has expertise in the technical process of designing competitions to drive innovative breakthroughs, but - equally important - we deliver the tactical strategies and tools necessary to execute such an ambitious plan. Today, it’s not enough to have a clear vision of the future, to spark great ideas. More than ever, competitions require structure and process, and too often the success of a great competition hinges on whether participants can utilize the necessary infrastructure to articulate their ideas and understand our client’s measure of success.

So, we’ve delivered a compelling website experience, ensuring that the design seamlessly integrates all required communication and branding elements for the MacArthur Foundation. The messaging required to attract interest focuses on providing a clear, open, and transparent description of the participation process -- through the website, anyone can learn what’s required, how they’ll be assessed, and by whom. We took a highly credible brand identity and aligned it with a transparent and accountable program. The MacArthur Foundation’s mission is “Committed to building a more just, verdant, & peaceful world.” These sentiments were heavily integrated into the visual design of the website both in imagery and in user experience, creating a program that is distinctively MacArthur but that represents a new call to action.
We also developed a process whereby any organization that submits a valid application will be assessed through normalized scores and comments to ensure fairness and generate feedback. That feedback is structured using a standard rubric, which is designed to compel each of five Evaluation Panel members to submit their honest appraisal of each assigned proposal. And, in our experience, delivering that feedback often ranks even higher for participants than the opportunity to win cash rewards. Understanding how each organization’s performance is going to be assessed is important, but guaranteeing that each assessment is fair (no matter which judges are assigned) and that everyone is accountable for their input is even more important.

We have learned at Common Pool from designing, developing, and managing hundreds of millions of cash value through competitions that we can foster successful collaboration, transcend existing boundaries, and embrace innovative thinking. Common Pool designs competitions to build communities of focused participants who have the skills and tenacity to solve complex problems. And, we work with foundations, government agencies, and commercial brands - big and small. We can design what you need in order to create real possibility, to spark creativity, and to invest in the future.

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Jaison Morgan
Managing Principal & CEO

Ready to start designing your competition?

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Jaison Morgan

Managing Principal

Jaison has been recognized by the BBC as “the world’s expert” in designing prizes to drive innovative breakthroughs. He helped establish a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to study how targeted rewards can be used to induce new approaches to engineering challenges. As the former head of prize development for the X PRIZE Foundation, he led teams to deliver multiple cash bounties of $10 million or more for solutions to common causes. He has served as an Advisor to the Office of the First Minister of Scotland, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the government of the United Arab Emirates to counsel their use of challenge competitions for solving large scale public problems. Jaison completed graduate studies at the University of Chicago and is a frequent lecturer on the subject of Incentive Engineering.

Shane Eggerman

Chief Technology Officer

Shane is a 20-year veteran of the Information Technology industry, with experience across a diverse group of employers and clients. He has managed and mentored developers for 14 years, but has stayed rooted in the latest technologies by keeping a portion of his schedule devoted to building software. He has a passion for developing great products and believes it is important in one's life to find something you love to do and turn that into a career. His drive comes from making software useful to people while at the same time teaching and learning from others who feel the same way.

Lynn Van Deventer

Vice President of Operations

Lynn has worked in the private and public sectors, both leading education reform and community engagement projects for Seattle Public Schools, as well as twenty years as a program manager and senior manager in the software and data management industry. She has delivered multi-million dollar projects on time and within budget. Most recently, she has led project management and research services across a wide range of prize competitions. Lynn oversees the service and support teams and heads operations for the firm.  Lynn earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa.

Naphtali Marshall

Creative Director

With over a decade of experience in the creative world, Naph’s excitement for the digital industry only continues to grow. He is a very motivated and driven individual with a creative eye. He brings an excitement to each project with the determination to do it right. His goal is never to just “make something look good,” but rather to build brands, develop relationships, and create usable and intuitive designs that inspire. In addition to his award-winning creative work, Naph brings to the table an extensive background in print media, web design and development while specializing in user interface and experience. He has worked in both the B2C and B2B markets nationally. His client background ranges from National Geographic, GE Healthcare, Hefty, Milwaukee Tool, Chicago Tribune, Northwestern University, and Samsung.

Jordan Blumhardt

Prize Administrator

Jordan is one of our technical and administrative support staffers for competitions, and he is responsible for producing informative promotional videos to guide participants in understanding the registration, submission, and judging process. Jordan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Production from Pensacola Christian College, and he is currently pursuing his MBA, with a concentration in Marketing, from Southern Columbia University.


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