The following comprise a selection of testimonials submitted by entrants from the last 5 years of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge program.
"We appreciated the openness and inclusivity of the application process, as well as the criteria of the Fuller Challenge, which allows for small organizations with small budgets to present big ideas for solving global problems."
"This Challenge pushed us as a team to reassess how our programs tackle deep systems theory. While investigating these we were able to reevaluate certain aspects and unearthed several new opportunities to pursue. Ultimately we have, once again, gained a better understanding of how we as individuals relate to the bigger picture."
"The application process is rigorous and focused on systemic change, which is very helpful. It is easy in the nonprofit world to get so fixated on tactical decisions that one loses sight of the long-term goal. Your questions about systemic drivers and impacts as well as the one about the preferred state were particularly helpful to sharpen our thinking."
"This application process presented us with an important exercise. Nearly every other prize or grant application forces us to focus on one small aspect of our work. In this application, we wanted to convey all of the different dimensions of our model. It is critical that we are able to do so concisely and with clarity, and this application pushed us to convey all of the layers that our model encompasses."
"The BFI Challenge application is enjoyable because it lets us express our plans on the ethical grounds in which we seem them... We benefit from applying as we get to reflect deeply on our mission, successes, and the road ahead."
"Being asked to account for our work, our approach to life and our commitment to change is always humbling, but also profoundly useful. The questions that BFI poses are vital and in the most significant sense - obligatory."
"Our team found the Challenge evaluation criteria to be an excellent framework for how to design an implementation plan and our new design with the greatest potential for success. It is inspiring to stir the imagination with new ideas, but without proper feasibility, verifiability, and replication, it is difficult to envision the idea taking flight."
"Too often, we find ourselves working diligently to solve the problems of the day and seldom find ourselves taking the time to properly consider the larger picture and the ultimate destination of our work. This exercise has allowed us the opportunity to step back and really look at what we are trying to accomplish from a much higher perspective and with a broader world view of the goals we aspire to meet. This has provided additional clarity to many on our staff who have contributed to the submittal documentation for this program. We sincerely believe that this will only help us to move forward in a more efficient and effective way and, for that, we are most appreciative to the Buckminster Fuller Institute and the program established here."
"This application has been an engaging experience. It was helped me crystallize my views on critical issues that I grapple with on a daily basis. This work is invaluable, whether or not I win the prize."
“We can honestly say that no other application process has been as fulfilling an experience as this one. The way the Challenge asks us to think in terms of systems, reach, and impact is in itself an opportunity for growth and development. The Buckminster Fuller Challenge is so much more than a design competition—it's an opportunity to reach higher and push farther. We were particularly inspired by the challenge posed by Bucky's own philosophy: that we already have the technology to surmount the greatest global challenges, that we can do more with less, and make it work for 100% of humanity.”
— Nicole Jolly, Co-Founder, How Does It Grow, Catalyst Program selection
“One of the best parts of the BFI application process was that it made us take time to think about our work, and its potential impact, on a global scale. We know intrinsically that Public Lab has huge long term potential for changing the way people think of and participate in environmental monitoring, which ultimately leads to changes in the way polluting industries do business. The BFI process made us step out of the day-to-day details of implementation, and really think about how to put the larger goals into words, what the timeline for large-scale change looks like, and where we are in that timeline a few years into the organization.
The interview was also a great process—it's wonderful to speak to people you respect who really "get" the long-term vision for the impact of our work. I think the multiple steps toward announcing the winner was good because it gave us several opportunities to push out press about where we were in the process. We received a lot of great feedback about being affiliated with the challenge from folks already familiar with our work, and drummed up attention from a slightly less traditional crowd for us. Overall, Buckminster Fuller has left a lasting legacy, and it has been amazing to be recognized by the Institute as pushing forward in the same direction.”
— Becki Chall, Development Manager, Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, Finalist
“2013 was a pivotal year for us, culminating in winning the Interface Support Award in the Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Our first Waterbank School had been named ‘The Greenest School on Earth’ by the US Green Building Council earlier in the year and we knew that the ’idea’ was gaining some traction. Our goal was that school design in semi-arid regions could change radically and that a new generation of high yield rainwater harvesting schools could be built across the African Continent anywhere that it rains and there is a need for water. The Fuller Challenge process forced us to write about Waterbank Schools in way that clarified our objectives. This process had profound implications for us; our Waterbank Schools project was called to account. The criteria were the toughest, the standards the highest. Most importantly, did it meet the challenge posed by Buckminster Fuller’s definition of design science? ....‘To solve problems by introducing into the environment new artifacts, the availability of which will induce their spontaneous employment by humans and thus, coincidentally, cause humans to abandon their previous problem-producing behaviors and devices.’
We wrote, we answered BFI’s penetrating questions, and made a short video. Making the short video, stating clearly in two minutes why we were advocating rainwater harvesting, what a Waterbank School was, and what it could do, provided us with our most succinct expression of purpose to date. In the semi-finals stage we were interviewed on the phone, demanding more clarity and specifically a statement about how we would use the funding if we won. The BFI team had become our mentors and our project was getting stronger with each stage of the assessment process. We now understood what we needed to do to increase the impact of Waterbank Schools. We understood the necessity of an open-source operating manual including design documentation, technical specifications, day-to-day operational instructions and curriculum development guidelines. Then we got the call.”
— David Turnbull, Co-Founder of PitchAfrica and Waterbank Schools, Finalist
"The criteria for the Challenge was like a 5th team member. Our entire proposal was as much a synergy of disciplines as it was a response to the Challenge. Through participating in the process we found comfort to keep at it with a new larger and longer picture of progress gained from the experience."
— Scott Gibson, Sustainable Disaster Response, Finalist
“We are not only honored and humbled at being recognized as a strategy that has significant potential to solve humanity's housing problem, but were deeply moved and feel a great commitment to continue striving to reinvent ourselves to create value not only for partners and clients, but also for workers, our community, environment, and the world as a whole. We acknowledge the great responsibility a designation like this entails and also feel energized to continue our work.
Being part of this Challenge was an amazing experience that provided us with inspiration and reinforcement to continue investing in our initiatives and opportunities to learn from peers around the world. We are thankful to BFI for their great support and believing in our company. Great outreach was achieved thanks to the exposure this award gave us!”
— Raffaella Piazzesi, Echale a Tu Casa, Finalist