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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Seva Selected as One of 11 “Best Bets” by Center for High Impact Philanthropy

Selected from 1,900 Applicants to MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change Competition

Press Release – BERKELEY, CA, December 20 – Officials at Seva announced today that the organization has been named a “Best Bet” from the pool of top applicants to the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change competition. Best Bets were selected by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy based on their ability to offer high-impact philanthropic solutions to some of today’s most critical issues. Seva works with communities to develop self-sustaining eye care programs around the world. Now on the brink of its 40th year of service, Seva has restored sight to 4 million people worldwide.

The new 100&Change competition awarded $100 million to a single winning initiative that tackles a critical challenge in the world. The MacArthur Foundation announced today that the winner of the competition was a joint project by Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee.

“We also wanted to spotlight some of the worthy ideas that were not selected as 100&Change semifinalists,” explained Dr. Cecilia Conrad, Managing Director of MacArthur Fellows & 100&Change for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. “Our hope was that other donors might support these projects and the organizations behind them.”

From the top 200 entrants to this competition that were not among the eight semi-finalists, the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High-Impact Philanthropy selected 11 organizations and initiatives, including Seva, for its Best Bets list. This list is intended to serve as an actionable public resource for philanthropists and donors at every level, to drive high-impact giving.

“Eighty-one applications stood out for the clarity of their social impact goal and the logic of their proposed solution. From this list, a panel of CHIP senior staff, analysts, fellows, and experienced funders—with expertise ranging from community development to public health, education to impact investing—identified 11 projects that it felt had the greatest potential for impact,” added Katherina M. Rosqueta, Founding Executive Director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. “These 11 are our ‘Best Bets’ suggestions for you.”

Seva Transforms Lives by Restoring Sight

Today 285 million people are affected by visual impairment; of those, 36 million are blind. 75% of these impairments can be solved with relatively simple, cost-effective interventions. For example, something as simple as a pair of prescription glasses can keep a child in school, opening a lifetime of opportunity. A 15-minute, $50 cataract surgery can restore sight to a blind person, allowing them to go back to work to support their family rather than being a burden. But geographic, financial, educational and social obstacles in low- and middle-income nations prevent many people from receiving treatment.

“Resolving vision problems is one of the most effective ways to combat poverty and expand opportunity,” said Kate Moynihan, Executive Director of Seva. “Being selected as one of the ‘best bets’ from this prestigious competition affirms the approach we have taken over 40 years to provide quality eye care and build capacity to expand access to eye health services to people in developing areas.”

Seva partners with organizations in underserved communities around the world to restore sight and prevent blindness. Working in a consortium with Seva Canada and the two largest providers of vision care in developing countries, Aravind Eye Care System and LV Prasad Eye Institute, one of Seva’s main efforts is to establish community-based Vision Centers (VCs) in rural and underserved communities. Equipped with modern technology and staffed by trained, local eye technicians, these VCs provide eye exams, prescription glasses, eye health diagnoses, and referrals for those in need of further interventions such as cataract surgery.

Vision Centers are a tested and proven solution to the problem of untreated vision impairment and blindness. For the 100&Change competition, Seva and the consortium proposed scaling up the VC model eight-fold to establish 2000 to 2300 VCs and reach 175 to 200 million people. Though they did not win the competition, Seva and its consortium partners continue their work to establish VCs and train community-based health workers. Their goal is to reach a tipping point and scale up to bring sustainable eye care to one billion of the world’s poorest residents.

About Seva (www.seva.org)

Seva is a global nonprofit eye care organization that transforms lives by restoring sight and preventing blindness. Their programs build self-sustaining eye clinics that provide critical eye care to underserved communities, especially women, children, and indigenous communities. An estimated 253 million people in the world suffer with visual impairment and blindness, 75% of which can be prevented or cured. In more than 20 countries, Seva has helped 4 million people who were blind to regain their sight and provided eyeglasses and other sight-saving services to tens of millions of people in need.

About the Center for High Impact Philanthropy (www.impact.upenn.edu)

The Center for High Impact Philanthropy (CHIP) at the University of Pennsylvania is the only university-based center with a singular focus on philanthropy for social impact. Founded as a collaboration between the School of Social Policy & Practice and alumni of the Wharton School, it is a trusted source of knowledge and education to help donors around the world do more good.


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