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Columbia Business School Students Award $100,000 Prize Through Competitive Evaluation

May 25, 2021

Graduate school demands careful analysis and thoughtful review.  For forty lucky Columbia Business School students, it also offers an ideal training ground for effective and impactful philanthropy. 

In a unique collaboration, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) teamed up with Lever For Change, a MacArthur Foundation nonprofit affiliate, and Columbia Business School’s Tamer Center for Social Enterprise to put the power of philanthropy into the hands of young people. 

Students at Columbia Business School in the Global Philanthropy course reviewed the highest-rated applications in the MacArthur 100&Change 2021 funding competition through a rubric created by the MacArthur Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. The criteria called for consideration of the project’s capacity for systems change, authentic engagement with affected communities, and the use of bottom-up approaches.  After assessing, analyzing, and discussing each proposal, the students voted to select what they viewed as the project with the most potential impact.  

“This opportunity—for the students to actually have a real-life experience with decision-making from the perspective of a potential donor—is unique,” said Professor Melissa A. Berman, who is also president and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. “The process they went through to evaluate the contenders gave these future social sector leaders a sense of the rigorous, thoughtful approaches needed to tackle society’s challenges.” 

The prize winner, Changing the Game for Girls/Coaching Boys Into Men, a project of Futures Without Violence in partnership with International Center for Research on Women, was awarded a $100,000 grant made possible by the generous contributions of RPA partners: the Ford Foundation, Seven Turns Fund, Three Cairns Fund and Tony and Sandra Tamer.

“We are deeply honored to be the recipient of this prize. We began our search for investment partners to scale this program following the publication of our second randomized controlled trial proving the program’s effectiveness, “ said Brian O’Connor, Co-Founder of the program at Futures Without Violence.

“We never dreamed at the time that one of our earliest investors would be a team of young women in graduate school. Girls and young women are incredible agents for change and this investment in some of the most marginalized girls in the world will have a game-changing impact on their lives and communities,” O’Connor said.

The project, which has been adapted in over 10 countries, is the only evidence-based prevention program that is proven to lower instances of teen sexual and relationship violence by embedding prevention strategies into regular youth sport practices. 

“Open competitions like 100&Change uncover a greater number of excellent organizations — like Futures Without Violence — than can be funded by a single donor,” said Jeff Ubois, Vice President of Knowledge Management at Lever for Change.  “Yet the grant proposals foundations receive are shared rarely, if at all.  Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Columbia School of Business, and the donors supporting this award to Futures Without Violence are showing the value of freely exchanging information — through services like our Bold Solutions Network.”

Futures Without Violence and ICRW plan to invest the prize’s funds into bringing the project to more communities in partnership with youth leaders, and inviting other donors to contribute to its expansion into additional locations throughout the world.

About Lever for Change

Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, ranging from racial and gender equity to economic development and climate change. Building on the success of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, 100&Change, Lever for Change customizes and manages open and transparent competitions for donors. In addition, the organization matches donors with nonprofits and social enterprises in its Bold Solutions Network, which includes solutions to significant social challenges that were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of Lever for Change’s competitions. The organization has developed and managed ten competitions, ranging in size from $10-to-100 million, unlocking $559 million in funding for high-impact solutions and strengthening dozens of top organizations. For more information, visit

About Futures Without Violence

Futures Without Violence is an international nonprofit health and social justice organization providing groundbreaking programs, policies, and campaigns that empower individuals and organizations working to end violence against women and children around the world, help individuals and communities heal, and prevent violence before it happens. For more than 30 years, we have worked to transform social norms, training professionals such as health providers, judges, educators and coaches on improving responses to violence and abuse. We also work with advocates, policy makers, creative artists and others to build sustainable community leadership and educate people everywhere about respect and healthy relationships. For more information, visit 

About International Center for Research on Women

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is a global applied research institute with offices located in Washington, D.C.; New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda. Anchored in the principle of human dignity, ICRW advances gender equity, inclusion and shared prosperity. For over 40 years, ICRW has worked closely with non-profit, government and private sector partners to conduct research, develop and guide strategy and build capacity to promote policies, programs and practices rooted in research. 

For well over a decade, ICRW has applied our research to school- and community-based programs that catalyze gender equity movements, change the dialogue on men and masculinities, confront online and offline gender-based violence and address systemic power dynamics. ICRW’s partners range from community members and teachers to project implementers and policymakers. Our goal is to find evidence-based solutions to the greatest challenges that face us. For more information, visit

About the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise at Columbia Business School

All Columbia University graduates will be called upon to contribute to society at some point in their lives. The Tamer Center for Social Enterprise educates leaders to use business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills, and management tools to address social and environmental challenges.

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