2017 #MacArthur Fellows: 24 Creative, Genius, Unique Leaders Who Inspire
Let’s celebrate extraordinary and amazing and beneficial and FUN people! I first heard about these annual awards when they were only about $200,000 and they were called “Genius Grants.” The stipend for the MacArthur Fellowship is currently set at $625,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years.
The cool thing about this award is that the group of people who nominate and select these individuals every year are ANONYMOUS and it is apparently impossible to discover their identities. This protects the process from corruption, one would hope.
Their FAQs page states: “All of the participants in the selection process—–nominators, evaluators, and selectors—–serve anonymously, and we keep their communications confidential. Anonymity protects them from being inundated with unsolicited requests. In addition, our experience shows that people readily provide frank impressions if they have an assurance that their responses will not be disseminated beyond the program staff and Selection Committee.”
I’ve heard that each recipient gets a phone call “out of the blue,” since they don’t even know they’re being considered, to announce that they are selected and about to receive one of our highest honors and a huge cash award.
The idea behind these awards is that the Fellows can then “quit their day jobs” or work less for money while living on the investments/cash they get/accumulate from this award. That award liberates Fellows to pursue their genius ideas even further! YEA!
There are three criteria for selection of Fellows:
—Promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments
—Potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
Again, from the FAQs: “The MacArthur Fellowship is designed to provide seed money for intellectual, social, and artistic endeavors. We believe that highly motivated, self-directed, and talented people are in the best position to decide how to allocate their time and resources. By adopting a ‘no strings attached’ policy, we provide the maximum freedom for the recipients to follow their creative vision, whether it is moving forward with their current activities, expanding the scope of their work, or embarking upon an entirely new endeavor. There are no restrictions on how the money can be spent, and we impose no reporting obligations.”
I also love that they make a concerted effort and usually succeed in finding obscure, diverse, interesting and helpful people to whom to give this important award each year. Check out the 2017 cohort!
Anybody a fan of the CMT TV series, Nashville, as I have been? One of the recurring roles has been being played in 2015-2017 by one of this year’s recipients, Rhiannon Giddens, a gifted “Singer, Instrumentalist, and Songwriter,” who won for: “Reclaiming African American contributions to folk and country music and bringing to light new connections between music from the past and the present.”
Sometimes, though, they do not pick the “thought-leader” in a particular area, but one who is using others’ work in new ways or places. I wish they’d give credit to the originators of this recipient’s work: Betsy Levy Paluck uses the thinking and program components of Community Matters‘ Safe School Ambassadors program’s creators, Rick Phillips, John Linney and Chris Pack. I know this because I worked for/with them and helped write the book they created about their anti-bullying work over 10 years ago. Oh, well. Can’t win them all!
Spread the word! Read about these people and their projects to youth and adults to inspire us all to be better! There is no upper age limit on recipients, either!
This year’s recipients include artists/designers, social scientists/humanities scholars, physical scientists/mathematicians, writers, community leaders/ strategists/ activists, and more.
There are, as usual (2016 was an exception), fewer female (9) than male (15) recipients. Most are under 50 years old, but a few are older.
However, more than usual (15) are people of non-Caucasian/ non-Western European ethnicities. Click on this link for an interactive map showing each of the recipient’s place of birth or location at the time of their award: https://www.macfound.org/maps/2/
A few are academics or work in other large organizations, but most are independent owners/operators or work in small businesses or in the nonprofit sectors.
Want to know more? Check out these myth-busting responses: https://www.macfound.org/press/commentary/five-myths-about-macarthur-genius-grants/
2017 MacArthur Fellows: 24 Extraordinarily Creative People Who Inspire Us All
The MacArthur Foundation named the 2017 MacArthur Fellows this week (10/10/17). Fellows will each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, allowing recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions.
“From transforming conditions for low-wage workers to identifying internet security vulnerabilities, from celebrating the African American string band tradition to designing resilient urban habitats, these new MacArthur Fellows bring their exceptional creativity to diverse people, places, and social challenges. Their work gives us reason for optimism and inspires us all.”
Visit the MacArthur Foundation website for Fellows’ bios and more info about each recipient as well as videos, the lists and descriptions/bios of previous years’ recipients, and the remaining FAQs/Answers: