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Africa at Noon: Kristen Molyneaux

August 2, 2021 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

“Big Bet” philanthropy & Traditional Grantmaking Programs: How private foundations see their role in supporting Africa-based initiatives”

Kristen Molyneaux
Vice President for Social Impact
Lever for Change, MacArthur Foundation


Individual foundations and private philanthropy see varying roles and opportunities for how to put their capital to work in order to achieve impact. Conversations continue to evolve in terms of how private philanthropy views risk, finds and funds strong organizations, supports various “capacity building” activities, and how they view the role of US and European Universities in grantmaking processes. This discussion will focus on how private foundations see their evolving role in supporting Africa-based organizations and initiatives and will provide insight on how US-based foundations generally view their role as grantmakers overseas–particularly in the era of “Big Bet” philanthropy.


Kristen leads the Social Impact team for Lever for Change which provides programmatic and technical supports to applicants and grantees. Kristen was previously the Senior Program Officer for the Foundation’s 100&Change initiative, a competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve a critical problem of our time. In this role, Kristen co-developed, designed, and launched the inaugural 100&Change competition. She currently manages various aspects of the competition including scope of initiative, the provision of technical support to competition participants, and due diligence processes. Currently, Kristen oversees the Foundation’s $100 million investment in Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee. Kristen joined the MacArthur Foundation in 2013 as a Program Officer in the Girls’ Secondary Education in Developing Countries program where she oversaw the strategic trajectory of the GSE portfolio. This work included global engagement activities focused on strengthening the policy and evidence base for secondary education. During this time, she also played a critical leadership role in forming the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE) donor collaborative which has granted over $50 million dollars to global educational programs to date. Kristen serves on the Board of Directors for the Comparative International Education Society (CIES). Kristen obtained her B.S. degree from SUNY Oswego and M.S. from Florida State University. She obtained her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies—Comparative International Education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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August 2, 2021
8:00 am - 5:00 pm