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Awarding $40 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030.

About

Equality Can’t Wait Challenge Equality Can’t Wait Challenge

We must accelerate the pace of progress for all women to be in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives – because equality can’t wait.

Why This Challenge?

Inequality runs deep in America. The injustices Black Americans face every day have forced a spotlight on systemic racism in our country. At the same time, COVID-19 has magnified the structural inequities that disproportionately affect women. Equality can’t wait.

We have seen a groundswell of energy and activism to accelerate progress toward equality in the U.S., but the pace of change has not moved fast enough. The gains that have been made for women in the U.S. do not extend to women of color, women living in poverty, and LGBTQ women, for example.

The good news is we can change the status quo by expanding women’s power and influence. In 2019, the World Economic Forum projected that it will take the U.S. 208 years to reach gender equality. We want to speed things up so that women of all backgrounds, especially women of color, can have an equal chance to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in the U.S.

Read More
Economic Participation and Opportunity
As of May 2020, women made up only 7% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies.
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Political Empowerment
A record number of women serve in the U.S. Congress – but still make up less than 24% of its members.
Share
Caregiving in America
Even though women represent 50% of the U.S. workforce, they still spend two hours more each day on caregiving and are nearly three times as likely as men to quit their jobs to take care of a family member.
Share
Graduating Women in Influential Sectors
What happens in the technology sector impacts all of us, so it needs to include all of us. Yet women earn only 19% of undergraduate degrees in computer and information sciences in the U.S.
Share

How to Participate

Learn more about how to participate in the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge.

Step 1: Assessment

June – August 2020

Use our Organizational Readiness Tool to help determine if your solution is eligible and a strong fit for the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge.

June – August 2020

Step 1: Assessment

September 1, 2020

Step 2: Registration

September 22, 2020

Step 3: Application

September – December 2020

Step 4: Evaluation

Winter 2021

Step 5: Finalists Selection

Summer 2021

Step 6: Winner Announced

Questions and Answers

Get answers to frequently asked questions. Don’t see your question answered? Email us here.

What is the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge?

Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, with additional support from MacKenzie Scott and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, is launching the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which will award $40 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030. Grants will be awarded to the organizations or coalitions of organizations with the most compelling proposals.

How many grants will be awarded through the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge?

Up to 10 participants will be named as finalists. Finalists are eligible to receive a one-time award of $100,000 and have the opportunity to revise and resubmit their proposal. Once resubmitted, at least three grants of a minimum of $10 million will be awarded to the top proposals, to be paid out over five years. An additional $10 million will be allocated among finalists and determined at the award decision stage.

Who is eligible to apply?

We are looking for innovative ideas from U.S.-based organizations or coalitions of organizations.

Eligible lead applicants can include:

  • An entity under section 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or (2) of the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") that has received a tax determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS").
  • A private foundation under section 501(c)(3) of the IRC that has received a tax determination letter from the IRS.
  • A tribal government or tribal-owned enterprise.
  • A public university, junior college, or college.

Eligible organizations are welcome to partner with for-profit companies, foundations, schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, individuals, and other entities in order to implement the initiative. Use the Organizational Readiness Tool to find out if you’re a good fit for the grant, refer to the rules for a complete set of eligibility requirements, and please contact [email protected] with any questions regarding eligibility.

What problem are we trying to solve?

We have seen a groundswell of energy and activism to accelerate progress toward gender equality in the U.S., but the pace of change has not moved fast enough. Women are still vastly underrepresented in the places where agendas are set and decisions are made.

Additionally, women of color, women living in poverty, and LGBTQ women face additional barriers to equality, both at home and at work. We are looking for creative solutions to accelerate progress for women of all backgrounds in the United States by expanding their power and influence. This means we want more women, especially women of color, in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

Who is hosting the competition?

Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, with additional support from MacKenzie Scott and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, is hosting the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, in partnership with Lever for Change.

What types of submissions are you looking for?

Recent events have highlighted the urgent need for equality in America, and we have to stay committed to advancing systemic change for women of all backgrounds. Accelerating progress toward gender equality will require many things, especially strategic capital and stakeholder collaboration. Through this competition, we are looking for innovative ideas that will bring additional capital and energy into one or more key areas that can expand women’s power and influence:

  • Dismantling the barriers that hold women back. We need to remove the barriers that affect women most, by challenging biased narratives, addressing racial inequity, ending sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and helping women balance their career, home, and families.
  • Fast tracking women in critical sectors. Our research shows that there are essential sectors that have an outsized impact on society. By creating entry points and consistent support for women to advance within industries such as 1) public office, 2) tech, 3) academia, 4) media and entertainment, 5) finance, and 6) entrepreneurship, we can take important steps to expand women’s power and influence.
  • Calling society to action. We must change outdated systems, institutions, and beliefs by enlisting society to take action. By arming key stakeholders – including CEOs, community leaders, consumers, and employees – with resources and data around the issues, we can influence and exert greater pressure from every angle.

Please note: We welcome ideas on other strategic approaches as they relate to the goal of expanding women’s power and influence. To be successful, the ideas must demonstrate that they can have equitable, measurable and rapid improvement over one or more of the metrics listed – wages and wealth gap, unpaid care, leadership roles held by women, content created by women, or public perceptions of women’s power and influence.

What should applicants track success against?

Your proposal should be able to increase the rate of change for women’s power and influence in the U.S. through at least one of these key indicators:

  • Wages and wealth: narrowing the gap between earnings and wealth for women in comparison to men
  • Unpaid care: improving the division of caregiving and other household responsibilities done by women in comparison to men
  • Share of leadership roles: increasing the percentage of women in senior roles across the public, private, and social sectors
  • Content creation: increasing the percentage of intellectual and cultural content created by women
  • Public perceptions: increasing the percentage of the public who feel women should have more power and influence

How will applications be evaluated?

Throughout the multi-stage challenge, proposals will be evaluated on the ideas that are most 1) transformative, 2) equitable, 3) innovative, and 4) feasible.

After the submission deadline is reached, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge team will perform an administrative review to confirm each submission meets the rules and application requirements before advancing eligible submissions to peer-to-peer review.

During peer-to-peer review, each lead organization will score and comment on five applications from other organizations. Top-scoring applications will move on to the evaluation panel and receive an additional review and comments from five expert reviewers. All reviewers will use the scoring rubric and all scores will be statistically normalized to ensure fairness.

We will review the top-scoring submissions and request additional information as needed to select up to 10 finalists based on considerations that may include, but are not limited to, ranking from the evaluation panel, organizational capacity, geographic diversity, and feasibility. Pivotal Ventures, MacKenzie Scott, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation will make the final determination of the 10 finalists and winners of the awards. At least three grants of a minimum of $10 million will be awarded to the organizations or coalitions of organizations with the most compelling proposals. An additional $10 million will be allocated among finalists and determined at the award decision stage.

How do we apply?

Using the online assessment, assess your fit and eligibility for the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, and then register no later than Tuesday, September 1, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Registration is required and is a simple two-step process. First, create a username and password, and then check your inbox to confirm your registration. Next, complete the online registration form. Once you are registered, submit your application online no later than Tuesday, September 22, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

Can an eligible organization submit more than one proposal?

An applicant can be a lead and a partner on multiple proposals, as long as the proposed solutions are different and separate. Regional or location-specific branches of national organizations can apply separately as lead organizations as long as the proposed solutions are different and separate. They can also apply as partners in multiple applications led by different entities. There should be no overlap in team members. The intent of the policy is to ensure that any team is concentrating their best effort into a single application. We encourage teams to select a single project that best represents your organization's ability to deliver a solution that is transformative, equitable, innovative, and feasible.

How, if at all, should COVID-19 play a role in the submission?

COVID-19 has impacted how we live, work, and care for one another. Although the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge is not in response to COVID-19 nor a funding mechanism directly suited for COVID-19 relief, we recognize that your proposals might be shaped by current circumstances. We know this pandemic will magnify the structural inequities that disproportionately affect women and threaten to roll back what progress we have made. Therefore, we are open to strategies as long as they track back to the success metrics listed – i.e. wages and wealth gap, unpaid care, leadership roles held by women, content created by women, or public perceptions of women’s power and influence.

Equality Can’t Wait Challenge

We must accelerate progress toward gender equality. The Equality Can't Wait Challenge will award $40 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030. Only 24 days to register.