Two ASU proposals in top 100 for $100M MacArthur grant

Two fish swim in coral reef

Dream big is the motto for applicants to the MacArthur Foundation for their 100&Change competition – $100 million big! Two ASU proposals made it to the top 100 in the current round: a substance abuse prevention program – keepin’ it REAL – and the Global Biodiversity Observatory, to monitor biodiversity changes in detail. The winner will be announced in the fall of 2020.

Keepin’ it REAL – REAL stands for refuse, explain, avoid and leave – promotes substance abuse prevention among youth within their local cultural context. Flavio Marsiglia, Regent’s Professor in the School of Social Work and the Global Center for Applied Heath Research, runs the program, which has been used in the U.S., Guatemala, Mexico, Spain and Uruguay. If funded by MacArthur, the group will expand the program to sub-Saharan Africa, where abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, is on the rise.

The Global Biodiversity Observatory project, run by Greg Asner, the director of ASU’s Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science, monitors biodiversity on land and on coral reefs using 3D imaging from a “super plane.” Biodiversity is essential to solving environmental problems, including the climate crisis, because plants pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and put it in the ground. The program, which is currently operating in Hawaii, provides actionable information, such as when behavioral changes were made to mitigate damage to coral reefs suffering from record high ocean temperatures. The key to this project is gathering and widely disseminating the information to decision makers and the public. If funded by MacArthur, the program will add satellites, connected by artificial intelligence to a decision-support system, that can reverse biodiversity loss.

The top 100 proposals were chosen by reviewers, judges and technical specialists. Each was determined to be impactful, evidence-based, feasible and durable. Next, MacArthur’s board of directors will choose 10 finalists. All along the foundations tries to match these exceptional projects with potential funders so that this excellent work can be accomplished.

Each of the applicants creates a 1-minute video to include in their application. The two ASU videos can be viewed here.