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What To Know About The New McNulty Prize

Every year the John P. McNulty Prize recognizes individuals using their entrepreneurialism and professional expertise to move the needle on seemingly intractable challenges in their communities. The McNulty Foundation recently announced the expansion of the McNulty Prize, recognizing that the challenges we face demand more values-based leaders who can create change in diverse ways.

Are you planning to submit your interest in the Prize? Here are 5 things you should know:

1. There are now THREE annual winners, and a larger Prize award

Courageous examples of leadership and impact come in many different forms, and the McNulty Prize seeks to hold up a range of those examples. Starting with awards in summer 2022, the Prize will recognize three breakthrough leaders as Winners. Each winner receives $150,000 over three years, and additional support to amplify their efforts through visibility from storytelling, media, and participation in major global forums. In addition to long term engagement with the Foundation, recipients of the McNulty Prize join a community of high-impact changemakers, with the space and opportunity to build relationships, share challenges and insights, and collaborate.

2. The Prize is for ‘mid-stage’ organizations looking to make the next leap

The Prize uniquely addresses a gap in the landscape of philanthropic awards: the transitional stage between proving and establishing your impact, and implementing it at scale (or greater depth). There is a healthy ecosystem of seed funding organizations helping new ideas get off the ground, and an array of large prizes and grants for organizations that have made huge progress in their issue area. There are relatively few awards or recognition in between.

What do we mean by mid-stage? 1) The venture can clearly point to real, measurable impact in the communities or systems they work with, whether that impact is broad or deep. 2) The beneficiaries of the venture’s work participate and embrace it, and its success attracts new partners—in other words, the venture is taking on “a life of its own.” 3) Ambition and room to grow: your venture has active plans to expand, inspire replication, or contribute in other ways to making long-term, permanent change on the challenge at hand.

The Prize offers Winners a multi-year suite of support—raising Winners’ profiles by bringing them to new stages and forums, facilitating connections with partners and funders, and creating storytelling and media assets to attract news coverage. It’s also why we maintain relationships with all of our Prize recipients; there is no fixed timeline for that phase change between impact and scale, and we value the opportunity to be partners for the whole journey.

CenteringPregnancy improves health outcomes for mothers and infants.

VisionSpring provides affordable eyewear and vision screening services worldwide.

3. We value all kinds of courageous leadership

Facing an intractable problem and committing yourself to building a venture to tackle it is, of course, an act of moral courage. For some Fellows, leading their venture meant relocating their families across the world, or evolving their organization to a new model. For others, it means directly challenging a powerful system or special interest, or scaling their efforts. We recognize that courageous leadership takes many forms, and our goal is to highlight the many ways individuals can wield their position, platforms, and resources to make a difference. For Dr. Amy Crockett, it meant using her position as an OB and Medical Director of the Greenville Health System Obstetric Center to implement a new model of group prenatal care pioneered at Yale called Centering Pregnancy. The program reduced preterm births and eliminated racial gaps in birth outcomes. A nationally recognized researcher, Dr. Crockett made expanding her focus in South Carolina’s largest healthcare system and then lobbying state Medicaid officials and insurers relentlessly until they made this new form of care available to the mothers who most needed it.

4. We believe change is best achieved collaboration with those closest to the issues

The McNulty Prize celebrates ventures that work in partnership with communities. Trying to work in a community without working with that community has been tried, and it doesn’t work. Trust and hand-in-hand coordination with the communities ventures work with is key to actually understanding issues as they play out on the ground, and to encouraging those local partners to embrace and take ownership of the efforts. Many Fellows have valuable lived experience and proximity to those communities, and that is a powerful asset. For those coming to their work from other backgrounds, seeking out that lived experience and insight is crucial.

5. Is it about the leader, or the organization? Yes.

The McNulty Prize was created to celebrate the best and most innovative ventures of Aspen Global Leadership Network Fellows. Those ventures themselves are the result of a pledge Fellows made, either at the end of their Fellowship or at the Action Forum. Considering that the AGLN Fellowship is about inculcating leadership values and skills, which are supposed to be then applied to their venture, the two are fundamentally inseparable.

Your personal example as a leader is immensely important. So is the impact of your organization. We strive to consider your application holistically, as an example of leadership, as a model of organization, and as a driver of impact.

High Resolves empowers students to take action against hatred and racism.

Fish Forever works with communities to build resilience and combat overfishing.

How to apply

If you think you and your organization are a good fit for the McNulty Prize, we encourage you to submit your expression of interest here.

We’ve updated the application process to reduce the burden on applicants and be sensitive to the time it takes to go through our process. After submitting a short form of interest, candidates with strong alignment with the Prize criteria will be asked to complete a full application.

If your venture is at an earlier stage, you may be a good fit for the Catalyst Fund instead, and we encourage you to discuss the opportunity with your Fellowship Director.

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