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The Audacious Project, A New Model for Philanthropic Collaboration, Announces First-Ever Recipients Live from the TED Conference
[April 11, 2018]

The Audacious Project, A New Model for Philanthropic Collaboration, Announces First-Ever Recipients Live from the TED Conference

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Audacious Project was launched in early April with a mission to foster "collaborative philanthropy for bold ideas." A joint endeavor housed at TED, the nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading, The Audacious Project surfaces and funds up to five critical projects annually that have the potential to create massive, global change. This coalition of leading organizations and individuals – among them the Skoll Foundation, Virgin Unite, Dalio Foundation, The Bridgespan Group and others – has collectively raised over $250 million to help fund the inaugural round of big ideas. This commitment has catalyzed additional funding from the projects' networks. To date, The Audacious Project has over $400 million committed towards its $634 million goal.

Today, the first class of The Audacious Project takes to the TED stage – each delivering a TED Talk detailing their world-changing projects. All of them are thrillingly bold with a credible path to execution, scale and impact.

Watch the reveal of The Audacious Project ideas on April 11 at 5 PM PDT live from the TED2018 stage in a session that will be livestreamed exclusively on Facebook Watch at

Following the session, the talks will be available on

The 2018 Audacious Project awardees are as follows, with their big ideas detailed in full below. Each starts with a question.

What if we ended the injustice of automatic jail time for those who can't afford bail?
The Bail Project is working to correct an injustice at the heart of the American legal system with its self-sustaining national bail fund.

What if we could hit the brakes on climate change by tracking pollution from space?
Environmental Defense Fund is launching a satellite to track methane emissions and empower companies and governments to take action.

What if a million Black women launched a health revolution?
GirlTrek will train frontline health activists to disrupt disease and inspire a bright and beautiful new culture of physical activity in the 50 highest-need communities in America.

What if we eliminated one of the world's oldest diseases?
Sightsavers has a plan to eliminate trachoma in less than a generation.

What if we explored the ocean's vast twilight zone, teeming with undiscovered life?
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has new technology to uncover the secrets of a mysterious layer of the ocean that's an integral part of the marine food web and Earth's climate system.

Over the past three years, The Audacious Project has beta-tested its model with several ideas. These include:

What if we digitally empower thousands of community health workers to make care available to all?
Living Goods & Last Mile Health are working together to improve access to lifesaving healthcare for millions by leveraging mobile technology to transform community health.

What if we could support millions of African farmers in growing more food?
One Acre Fund is scaling up its methods for bundling services to boost small-farm productivity, prosperity and food security in rural Sub-Saharan Africa.

With the projects public and the TED Talks now live, people around the world are invited to support each initiative financially – and in other ways – alongside participating members of The Audacious Project coalition. Each idea includes a specific budget that matches its ambition with viable, sustainable timelines that span years.

"Our goal here is to build a platform for ideas so audacious, but also so well prepared, that they can attract large amounts of financial support pooled from multiple donors," said Chris Anderson, TED Curator. "This could and should allow us all to dream more creatively, more boldly and more confidently about possible routes to a better future. We're deeply excited by these inaugural projects and invite the world to join us in carrying them forward." 

"This is a new and bold chapter in philanthropic collaboration," said Anna Verghese, Executive Director of The Audacious Project. "Having spent a decade mobilizing globally impactful projects with the TED Prize, we now have a coalition ready to support some of the world's most heroic and devoted social entrepreneurs as they're asked to dream and collaborate at the most transformative scale possible. The 2018 recipients are forcefully leading the charge in tackling global warming, social injustices, disease and health care. Collectively confronting these daunting challenges is what The Audacious Project is all about and our team is here to support this critical work."



What if we ended the injustice of automatic jail time for those who can't afford bail?

The Bail Project is an unprecedented national effort to combat mass incarceration by disrupting the money bail system, which disproportionately affects low-income communities, women and people of color. The new organization builds on the success of its pilot program, The Bronx Freedom Fund, which has been in operation for 10 years. With the support of The Audacious Project, The Bail Project will manage a revolving national bail fund and develop a network of local teams – known as Bail Disruptors – who will work with public defenders, advocates and impacted community members to post bail for over 160,000 people in the next five years.

The Bail Project's revolving fund will pay bail for those who can't afford it, keeping families together, protecting livelihoods and preventing the human suffering caused by pretrial detention. Since bail is returned at the end of a case, donated funds can be used several times a year, making this model a highly sustainable game-changer for combatting mass incarceration and the racial disparities endemic to the American legal system.

"Pretrial detention is a key driver of mass incarceration in the United States, accounting for all of the net jail growth in the last 20 years," said Robin Steinberg, CEO of The Bail Project. "Thanks to The Audacious Project, we have an incredible opportunity to help turn the tide on this crisis. We have a proven model, strong local partners and a growing team ready to give it their all until our work is no longer necessary."

The Bail Project is launching with four strategic sites: Bronx, New York; Queens, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. By the end of year one, it will expand to five additional cities, including Detroit and Louisville. By the end of year five, The Bail Project will be operating in 40 sites and bailing out an average of 1,000 people per site per year, all while collecting stories and data to support reform efforts and demonstrate – as it has done in the Bronx – that money bail is not only unfair, but also unnecessary.

For more information, visit:

The Bail Project Media Contact:
Camilo A. Ramirez
Communications Director | 864.905.4974


What if we could hit the brakes on climate change by tracking pollution from space?

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for a quarter of the warming our planet is experiencing. One of the largest man-made sources is the oil and gas industry, releasing about 75 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere each year (enough to generate electricity for all of Africa twice over).

Cutting these emissions is the fastest, cheapest thing we can do to slow the rate of warming today (even as we continue to attack carbon dioxide emissions). Simple, cost-effective steps can reduce emissions dramatically, but only if we know how much methane is coming from which facilities. But gathering this data on a global scale is a huge challenge.

That's why the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), with support from The Audacious Project, will build and launch MethaneSAT, a low-cost, purpose-built satellite, to locate and measure oil and gas methane emissions globally. Information from MethaneSAT will be a critical new resource for both companies and countries to reduce those emissions and create a transparent way to track that progress.

Improved data on oil and gas methane emissions can turn this threat into the biggest climate opportunity of our time. We already know that immediate substantial reductions are both necessary and possible. The International Energy Agency estimates the industry can feasibly reduce its worldwide emissions by 75 percent – and that up to two thirds of those reductions can be achieved at zero net cost.

"Cutting methane emissions from the global oil and gas industry is the fastest thing we can do right now to put the brakes on climate change," said Fred Krupp, EDF President. "MethaneSAT gives us the power to map and measure the problem, identify reduction opportunities and track that progress over time."

For more information, visit:

EDF Media Contact:
Jon Coifman
Communications Director 


What if a million Black women launched a health revolution?

GirlTrek, the largest health movement and organization for Black women in the United States, has an Audacious idea to improve the overall health and well-being of African-American women – starting with walking. Factors like the stress of underemployment and unsafe streets, chronic poverty and culture norms that value service above self-care have all contributed to African-American women engaging in fewer leisure-time physical activities. As a result, 82 percent of African-American women are overweight and 59 percent are obese – they die from preventable diseases at higher rates and younger ages than any other group of women in the United States.

GirlTrek believes the solution to this health crisis is simple: daily walking, which has been proven to ameliorate the risk factors of obesity. To attain their goal of reaching a million Black women, GirlTrek will bring together 10,000 of the brightest and most committed women in their network to be trained as a new vanguard of public health activists.

"When I think of people power, I close my eyes and see images of women walking on the sidewalks of Montgomery in the bus boycotts. I see women crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. GirlTrek is reestablishing walking as a transformative tradition in Black communities and as an effective solution to the current health crisis," said T. Morgan Dixon, Cofounder of GirlTrek and Chief Executive Officer.

"We are not a workout group. We are an army of women who in the iconic words of Fannie Lou Hamer, are 'sick and tired of being sick and tired,'" said Vanessa Garrison, Cofounder of GirlTrek and Chief Operating Officer.

To scale their impact tenfold, GirlTrek will launch a five-day training inspired by the "tent revivals" and "teach-ins" of the Civil Rights Era. This immersive training experience, "Summer of Selma," will include three parts: skills training, an inspiring Woodstock-type festival and a 54-mile trek along the iconic Selma-to-Montgomery trail. From there, newly-trained activists will use local rallying power, practical skills and an unwavering sense of purpose to recruit new walkers and lead more than 10,000 weekly walks in the highest-need communities in America.

For more information, visit:

GirlTrek Media Contact:
Jewel Bush
National Communications Director | 202.681.3033


What if we eliminated one of the world's oldest diseases?

Sightsavers – an international charity working to prevent avoidable blindness – has an Audacious idea to tackle the bacterial infection trachoma, which causes people to go irreversibly blind in an excruciatingly painful way. Trachoma has plagued humanity for thousands of years, recorded as far back as Ancient Egypt, but is completely preventable. Yet, it still blights the world's poorest communities. More than 182 million people are at risk.

With support from The Audacious Project, Sightsavers and their partners can reach a major milestone in the history of human health in the next few years by stopping trachoma from blinding people.

The global economy loses $8 billion to trachoma each year, but eliminating the disease for good will cost much less. Sightsavers plans to implement the World Health Organization-endorsed SAFE strategy (surgery, antibiotics, face-washing and environmental improvements) in key countries where funding gaps are the only thing standing in the way of eliminating the disease. It will also scale up efforts in countries with some of the most severe need to make sure no one is left behind.

Dr. Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, said: "Trachoma traps the most vulnerable people in a vicious cycle of poverty. Together we can consign this awful disease to the history books, where it belongs. We'll free millions of people, today and for generations to come, from this scourge of the world's poorest communities."

For more information, visit: and

Sightsavers Media Contact:
Hester Philips | +44 (0)7786926907


What if we explored the ocean's vast twilight zone, teeming with undiscovered life?

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the world's leading, independent non-profit organization dedicated to ocean research, exploration and education, is announcing an Audacious idea to explore the twilight zone, a globe-spanning ecosystem that is integral to the ocean food web and Earth's climate system.

Known to scientists as the mesopelagic or midwater region of the ocean, the twilight zone sits about 200 to 1,000 meters beneath the surface. The sun barely reaches the twilight zone, but it is home to the largest animal migration on Earth – one that happens every day – as well as the most common vertebrate on the planet, up to 90 percent of the world's total fish biomass and a multitude of as-yet undiscovered species. Despite this, the region remains largely unexplored.

Using next-generation robotic vehicles and sensors, WHOI will research what lives in the twilight zone; how organisms there interact with each other, their surroundings and surface waters; how to design new tools to explore the region; and how the twilight zone influences Earth's climate. Because it's teeming with life and largely unregulated, commercial fishing interests are already scaling up efforts to harvest the twilight zone, despite a fundamental lack of knowledge about how unbridled extraction of resources might affect marine life and global climate. Sound data will fuel informed policies to support sustainable use of this unexplored frontier.

"We want to take advantage of the amazing advances in technology – existing and under development – to launch large-scale exploration of the twilight zone. With so much that is still unknown, I think there's an almost unlimited opportunity for new discovery and for smart policies to arise from sound data," said Dr. Heidi Sosik, Senior Scientist at WHOI.

For more information, visit: and

WHOI Media Contact:
Erin Koenig
Media Relations Coordinator | 508.289.2270


What if we digitally empower thousands of community health workers to make care available to all?

Living Goods and Last Mile Health have been individually working to improve healthcare delivery by training and empowering community health workers in East and West Africa, respectively. The two organizations are teaming up with an Audacious idea to create Africa's largest network of digitally-empowered community health workers.

Through support from The Audacious Project, by 2021, Living Goods and Last Mile Health will bring quality health care to 34 million people in 6 countries in East and West Africa. They will also generate jobs for 50,000 people in the regions.

The joint venture will leverage two key innovations to make this possible: first, community health workers will be equipped with the Smart Health app, created by Living Goods and Medic Mobile, which automates diagnosis of deadly conditions and captures accurate, real-time data to manage thousands of far-flung workers. Second, the project will transform how community health workers and health systems leaders are trained through the Community Health Academy, launched by Last Mile Health with the 2017 TED Prize.

"Virtually every other sector – from books, to retail, to taxis – has been positively reinvented by mobile technology. Now it's time for technology to reinvent community health care on a game-changing scale by transforming ordinary women and men into life-saving community health workers. Research proves Living Goods' approach reduces child deaths by more than 25% for an annual cost of less than $2 per person reached," said Chuck Slaughter, Founder of Living Goods.

"For all of human history, illness has been universal and access to care has not. But no condition is permanent. Due to the support of The Audacious Project, we now have the opportunity to operationalize a plan on the scale of this problem. Last Mile Health and Living Goods are deeply grateful for the opportunity to embark on a journey over the next four years to fundamentally change the way millions of people access healthcare alongside our partners in government and philanthropy," said Raj Panjabi, CEO and Cofounder of Last Mile Health.

For more information, visit:

Media Contacts:

Siobhan Kelley

Jennifer Hyman

LMH Communications Manager

LG Communications Director | 802.735.7841


What if we could support millions of African farmers in growing more food?

One Acre Fund, a nonprofit social enterprise, has an Audacious idea to make the world's small-scale farmers more prosperous. Seventy percent of people around the world living in poverty are farmers. With access to agricultural resources and trainings, these farming families can harvest more food and earn a sustainable income.

One Acre Fund currently works with 600,000 smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. With support from The Audacious Project, the organization plans to reach 1.25 million rural farm families per year by 2020. Farmers select and pay for the services, empowering them as customers.

As farmers' incomes rise, they can invest more in long-term goals for their families, like health, education and care for their land. They learn sustainable farming practices to increase yields on existing farmland without converting tracts of forest and savannah for agricultural use.

"The world's smallholder farmers are some of the hardest working people on the planet," said Andrew Youn, Cofounder and Executive Director of One Acre Fund. "By working together and increasing access to financing, tools and training, we envision a future where all farmers can achieve big harvests, healthy families and rich soils."

For more information, visit:

One Acre Fund Media Contact:
Whitney McFerron
Lead Writer & Editor 

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks delivered by today's leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED's annual gathering in Vancouver, Canada, its TEDWomen and TEDGlobal conferences, and at thousands of independently organized TEDx events around the world, then made available, free, on and other channels.

TED's open and free initiatives for spreading ideas include, among many others,, where new TED Talk videos are posted daily; TEDx, which provides licenses to thousands of individuals and groups who host local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; the TED Fellows program, which selects innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities; subtitles and interactive transcripts thanks to thousands of volunteer translators worldwide; and the educational initiative TED-Ed.

Press Contacts
TED - Erin Allweiss: 202.446.8265 /

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