Misk Grand Challenges aims too empower youth with skills

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Misk Foundation launch the Misk Grand Challenges


RIYADH — The Misk Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Tuesday announced the launch of Misk Grand Challenges, an initiative backed by grants totaling $10 million, which will engage innovative thinkers from around the world in addressing some of the biggest issues facing societies today.

The Misk Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will contribute $5 million each to the Misk Grand Challenges. The initiative will launch a series of Grand Challenges over a period of three years themed around:

• Education: to support innovative responses to the challenges education systems face in providing high quality teaching to all students;

• Global Citizenship: to encourage young people to develop creative and inspiring ideas to engage the public on the importance of the global community achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Welcoming the announcement, Bader Al Asaker, secretary general of the Misk Foundation, said: “Tackling global issues demands global partnerships. This collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is an important and essential initiative for the Misk Foundation. Misk Grand Challenges will directly empower young people by providing them with the research grants necessary to give them the chance to innovate new solutions. A positive future can be shaped by the next generation and the Misk Grand Challenges will act as a vital catalyst in this process.”

Addressing the Misk Global Forum’s second annual gathering here Tuesday, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “Through the work of our foundation, I have seen the incredible power of innovation to transform the lives of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people. The Misk Grand Challenges will incentivize more of the brightest minds around the world to find the best ideas to solve some of the toughest development challenges.”

Coinciding with the announcement of the collaboration, the first two Misk Grand Challenges were launched, one on education and the other on global citizenship.

The education challenge will call for proposals that provide for new ideas to transform teaching and school leadership to better prepare children with 21st century skills, covering problem solving, leadership, creativity and adaptability.

The global citizenship challenge will call for proposals to engage young people at depth and scale, encouraging them to address one or more of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Global Goals were launched in 2015 by the United Nations (UN) after being agreed on by all 193 UN member states.

The first Misk Grand Challenge will focus on Goals 1 through 6: No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality and clean water and sanitation.

A competitive selection process will be open to applicants from around the world and will result in 100 entrants receiving $100,000 in seed funding to prove their concepts. The most impactful projects will have the opportunity to apply for further funding to implement the ideas across priority locations.

The innovators who receive grants will gain access to three international networks to help them develop their proof of concepts into tangible initiatives:

• The Goalkeepers network of advocates on global health and poverty alleviation organized by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Project Everyone;

• The Misk Global Forum organized by the Misk Foundation;

• The Grand Challenges’ own global alumni community of creative thinkers who have previously received grants to turn their ideas into real-life concepts.

The Misk Grand Challenges is part of a global family of Grand Challenges initiatives aimed at fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. — SG