CARE’s Second Annual Scale X Design Challenge Rewards Innovation with $400,000 in Grants

CARE’s Second Annual Scale X Design Challenge Rewards Innovation with $400,000 in Grants

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The competition is the culmination of CARE’s Scale X Design Accelerator, which quickens the pace at which innovative programs reach scale 


STANFORD, Calif. (Feb. 12, 2018) — Leading humanitarian and poverty-fighting organization CARE awarded $100,000 in grants Feb. 9 to teams competing in its second annual Scale X Design Challenge, which funds leading innovations in the international development field. The organization had already awarded grants totaling $300,000 to teams in a preliminary challenge in CARE’s hometown of Atlanta Feb. 1. The competitions were the pinnacle of CARE’s Scale X Design Accelerator, a first-of-its-kind program that combines mentorship, workshops and investment to close the gap between innovation and impact in order to reach exponentially more people, faster.

All told, 14 teams —from Mali to Ghana, Bangladesh, Vietnam and beyond — represented programs that range from a weather alerting service, which helps small-scale farmers in Vietnam better manage their crops to a cash-less digital financial product that meets the needs of small-scale farmers in Bangladesh. For the first time, the Accelerator included teams from outside of CARE: Habitat for Humanity International and the World Wildlife Fund.

The teams first pitched in Atlanta before an audience of more than 700 people including an expert panel of judges. They were split between two theaters at the High Museum. Emcees for the evening were Rose Scott, host of WABE's Closer Look with Rose Scott and Fredricka Whitfield, anchor, CNN. 

Atlanta winners included two audience favorites, each receiving $50,000: a team from Egypt called “Circles of Change,” which trains male taxi drivers to fight sexual harassment, and A-Card, which offers the cash-less digital financial product for farmers in Bangladesh.

The judges’ winners were awarded $100,000 each. In Atlanta, those winners were UptakePreneur, a group aiming to support entrepreneurs in West Bank/Gaza to transform the barriers of political instability into economic growth opportunities, and Nyeleni, a group that empowers women farmers in Mali.

Leading social entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives and development practitioners convened at Stanford University’s David and Joan Traitel Building Friday night for “Pitch Night,” where teams presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges and a live audience.

One $25,000 grant went to the audience favorite, and a $75,000 grant to the judges’.

Michal Lev-Ram, senior writer at Fortune magazine, was the evening’s emcee. Online viewers watched a live stream of the competition on CARE’s Facebook page, and a Scale X Design mobile phone app allowed for remote voting.

All teams share a common goal: to accelerate their program’s impact in a world that, despite significant gains over the past 25 years, finds more than 800 million people in extreme poverty. CARE itself was founded as a means of rushing lifesaving food and supplies — the original CARE Packages — to World War II survivors on the brink of starvation. It was built for scale, as Americans ultimately sent 100 million CARE Packages to war-weary survivors and other families around the world.

“We’re at this really interesting inflection point in the international development field where people realize the world is changing at a terrifying pace, and we need to ride this wave in a different way,” says Dar Vanderbeck, CARE’s chief innovation officer who heads up the Scale X Design Accelerator. “It’s important that we understand the challenges and turn big ideas into experiments and breakthroughs. That is what Scale X Design does.”

Some of those ideas were on display at Stanford, where two teams took home additional money to help scale their projects.

A team dubbed “The Cooperative Fund” from the Republic of Georgia took home the judges’ award of $75,000. They’ll use the money to improve access to investments in agricultural cooperatives to transform subsistence farms into growing commercial businesses.

A team from Ghana was the audience favorite, and took home $25,000. Their project, Making Treasure from Trash, helps rural women use biogas for cooking, saving them hours each day gathering fuel.

In addition to the two CARE-funded prizes, CARE partner Cisco awarded $50,000 to the Teachers Resource Lab team from India whose project promotes STEM education for women and girls through technology and hands-on learning activities.

Sponsors for this year's Scale X Design challenge include Delta Air Lines (Silver Level), Cisco (Silver Level) and John and Tashia Morgridge (Gold Level.) 

“We are incredibly proud of our Scale X Design winners and all of the teams who are such dedicated and innovative change-makers,” said Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of CARE. “They represent some of the best ideas in humanitarian and development work. If there is anything more gratifying than showcasing them in the Scale X Design Challenge, it’s envisioning the growing impact they will make on families and communities around the world.”

About CARE       

Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 93 countries and reached 65 million people around the world. Learn more at

About Scale X Design Accelerator

CARE’s Scale X Design Accelerator is a first-of-its-kind platform that draws on private sector examples to rapidly design, test and learn, iterate and implement bold new ideas. Collaborating with social entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, development practitioners and community leaders, the Accelerator identifies and cultivates innovations with high propensity for growth. Building on CARE’s strong tradition of evolving to meet critical humanitarian needs, the Scale X Design Accelerator serve as a catalyst for multiplying impact, in the same generous spirit that ignited a global movement more than 70 years ago when CARE delivered the first of more than 100 million CARE Packages to survivors of World War II and other families around the world.

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Two CARE teams, representing innovative programs in Ghana (right) and the Republic of Georgia, split $100,000 in cash prize money as part of CARE's Scale X Design Accelerator Feb. 9 at Stanford University. Throughout the Accelerator competition, a total of 14 teams ulimtately competed for a combined $400,000 in grant funding, which winners will use to help take their projects to scale. (Erin Lubin/CARE)