NEW YORK CITY (June 21, 2017) - The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is delighted to announce that four projects from its Catalyst Program have been selected to receive additional funding from World Centric®, a California-based socially-responsible company that sells compostable, disposable food-service products. Grants totaling $95,000 have been distributed among the following Catalyst Program projects: Burma Humanitarian Mission, the Nubian Vault Program, Sanitation and Health Rights India, and SPOUTS of Water. These projects were chosen as a result of a partnership between the Fuller Challenge program and World Centric’s corporate giving program.
“We are thrilled to work with World Centric to support these great projects,” said Elizabeth Thompson, Founding Director of the Fuller Challenge program.
“One entry to the Challenge wins the grand prize each year, but we have been able to provide other opportunities to dozens of projects each year through our Catalyst Program. It had been our hope that the impact investment and philanthropy communities would see the value that our vetting process can bring to their efforts to identify initiatives aligned with their giving criteria, which is what World Centric’s program has done.”
Burma Humanitarian Mission (BHM), selected for the Catalyst Program in 2016, supports community-based “backpack medics” who administer village healthcare services in Burma. In an effort to empower ethnic minorities and build local capacity, men and women enter a seven-month training program where they learn the basics of first aid, medicines, maternal and child care, and community health practices. Once trained, the new medics return to serve their communities as BHM continues to support them with required medicines and supplies. Through the Backpack Medics Program, BHM serves more than 50,000 villagers.
The Nubian Vault Program, a finalist in the 2015 Fuller Challenge, operates across West Africa in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal where it has created a self-sustaining market in Nubian Vault construction. Based on an age-old method, timberless vault construction uses only locally available earth, rocks, and water to build ecologically sustainable, comfortable, durable buildings. Local economies are liberated from dependence on expensive, imported construction materials; carbon emissions are significantly curtailed; and hundreds of jobs are created as masons and apprentices are trained in the technique. More than €2 million of positive impact on local economies has been measured to date.
Sanitation and Health Rights India (SHRI, formerly Humanure Power), also selected for the 2015 Fuller Challenge Catalyst Program, addresses the dire lack of sanitation options in India, the nation with the highest rates of open defecation in the world. SHRI constructs toilet facilities, including eight toilets for men, eight for women, plumbing, hand washing stations, and a biogas digester, on government land for $30,000 per facility. The toilet facilities are always free to use. As human waste is hygienically disposed of in the biogas digester, the methane gas that it produces fuels a generator, which, in turn, powers a water filtration system. The sale of affordable drinking water offsets the operation and maintenance costs of each toilet facility.
SPOUTS of Water, selected for the Catalyst Program in 2016, produces Purifaaya ceramic water filters in order to address the fact that more than ten million Ugandans lack access to clean drinking water. Purifaaya filters are made with locally sourced clay, last for two years, and cost only $20 USD. SPOUTS of Water attempts to circumvent the cycle of aid and dependence that many clean water solutions can inadvertently perpetuate. Purifaaya filters are manufactured locally thus creating local jobs and delivering a product that allows customers to save time and money. SPOUTS also distributes the water filters in schools and refugee settlements.
““Through the Catalyst Program, we have come to know of wonderful organizations working at the grassroots level,” said World Centric CEO Aseem Das. “These organizations on small budgets are creating high impact and changing lives. World Centric is looking for such organizations doing impactful work focused on basic needs such as food, water, sanitation, basic health care, and education. We are delighted to be able to support some of these amazing organizations from the Catalyst Program as part of our yearly giving.”
Each year, the Fuller Challenge Catalyst Program presents the top 20% of entrants with opportunities for additional funding and support. Benefits have included, among others, media coverage; event invitations; automatic nomination to additional programs such as dMASS, Inc., the Katerva Awards, and Echoing Green; and pro-bono legal services through the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s global TrustLaw program. In past years, opportunities for additional funding have come through partnerships with Interface, the Northwest Area Foundation, and the Surdna Foundation.
The Buckminster Fuller Challenge received a record number of entries in 2017. The review process to select a winner of the $100,000 grand prize as well as entrants to the 2017 Catalyst Program is currently underway with the jury reviewing more than 460 submissions.