Girls Inc. Among Finalists Selected for ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ Challenge
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Girls Inc. Among Finalists Selected for ‘Equality Can’t Wait’ Challenge

The Challenge will award $40 million to accelerate the pace of progress toward gender equality in America.

CONTACT: Marc Moorghen, 773.789.1714,

Equality Can't Wait logo

New York, NY, March 10, 2021 – Today, the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge, which will award $40 million to help expand women’s power and influence in the United States by 2030, announced 10 projects that will move on to the final stage of the competition.

The Challenge, hosted by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company—with additional support from MacKenzie Scott and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, and managed by Lever for Change—was launched in June 2020 to accelerate the pace of progress toward gender equality in America.

In the summer of 2021, the Challenge will grant three $10 million awards, with an additional $10 million to be allocated among finalists, bringing the total to $40 million. The Challenge will provide funding for innovative, women-led solutions that enable more women, particularly Black, Indigenous, and other women of color, to be in positions to make decisions, control resources, and shape policies and perspectives in their homes, workplaces, and communities.

“Gender inequality isn’t inevitable,” said Melinda Gates, founder of Pivotal Ventures. “Solutions exist, but scaling them requires investment. The Equality Can’t Wait Challenge has proven there’s no shortage of actionable ideas to drive progress for women and that donors are willing to meet bold ideas with big resources. Our hope is that this Challenge serves as a source of connection between innovators and funders, so promising ideas can get the support they need to create change.”

“These organizations are finding new ways to build power and voice for women in their personal and professional communities,” added MacKenzie Scott. “The deep empathy and creative partnerships in the finalists’ approaches inspire hope for change.”

The finalist projects that emerged from the Challenge cover a broad range of topic areas, organization sizes, geographies, and populations. Girls Inc.’s Project Accelerate proposes to accelerate young women’s trajectories through college and career entry, leveraging partnerships with corporations to ensure their preparation and access to positions of influence. For more information about the Girls Inc. project, click here.

“I believe gender equality will strengthen both the economic and social fabric of the United States,” said Stacy Schusterman, Chair of Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. “Only when all women are able to realize their full potential, including Black, Indigenous and other women of color, will our country thrive. The barriers to gender equality will only be removed when women are in the driver’s seat to design solutions that address the most pressing issues they face. The finalists in the Equality Can’t Wait Challenge have already shown us what women can achieve when their voices are heard and their talent is unleashed.”

“Progress towards gender equality was slow even before COVID-19,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “Since the pandemic began, the barriers facing women— especially Black, Indigenous, and other women of color—have become higher and harder to overcome. Equality Can’t Wait is rising to the challenge, bringing together innovators and leaders, who inspire us with their bold solutions. Collectively, these finalist organizations will bring about lasting change in women’s lives for generations to come.”

For more on the Challenge, visit, and watch the video about the Challenge here.

Any competition questions should be addressed to


Pivotal Ventures

Pivotal Ventures is an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates. We work with organizations and individuals to accelerate momentum where progress has stalled and use philanthropic and investment capital to substantially improve people’s lives.

MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott has posted about her giving at The Giving Pledge, 116 Organizations Driving Change and 384 Ways to Help.

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies

Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies (Schusterman) is a global organization that seeks to improve lives, strengthen communities and advance equity. Our philanthropic vision is grounded in a commitment to pursue justice, repair the world and treat all people with dignity and civility. We invest in efforts to improve public education in the United States, strengthen the Jewish people and Israel, and address the needs of marginalized individuals and communities. For more information, visit

Lever for Change

Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, ranging from racial and gender equity to economic development and climate change. Building on the success of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, 100&Change, Lever for Change customizes and manages open and transparent competitions for donors. In addition, we match donors with nonprofits and social enterprises in our Bold Solutions Network whose solutions to significant social challenges were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of our competitions. Currently, Lever for Change is managing nine competitions, ranging in size from $10-to-100 million, awarding $295 million to grant recipients and strengthening dozens of top organizations. For more information, visit