January 29, 2020

New $12 Million Grant Competition Seeks to Create a Durable Future for Refugees

Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award is first in a series of ICONIQ Impact Competitions managed by Lever for Change.

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Lever for Change, an affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and ICONIQ Impact, ICONIQ Capital’s platform for collective, collaborative philanthropy, today announced the launch of the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award (“this Award”), a global competition for a US $12 million grant to create a durable future for refugees. This Award is being sponsored by ICONIQ Capital clients Lyna Lam and Chris Larsen. It is the first in a series of expected grant competitions facilitated by Lever for Change’s partnership with ICONIQ Impact.

The partnership between ICONIQ Impact and Lever for Change helps ICONIQ clients identify philanthropic opportunities and support social impact at scale through rigorously-evaluated proposals that address social issues of their choice. Lyna Lam is a renowned philanthropist and founder of Wat Khmer Kampuchea Krom, a Khmer Buddhist Temple Foundation, and her husband, Chris Larsen, is a business leader, investor and co-founder of Ripple. This award is inspired by Ms. Lam’s experience immigrating from Vietnam to the U.S. in the 1980s. The Lam family arrived with limited resources, but a loan from their local Vietnamese community helped them start a business and achieve stability.

“Under the best of circumstances, uprooting a life and emigrating to a new country is hard,” said Ms. Lam. “For refugees, circumstances are harder at every stage. After fleeing war, violence or persecution, most refugees arrive in their new countries with few possessions and little support. We are hoping to find and fund bold ideas to support individuals and families as they rebuild their lives.”

“We care deeply about helping refugee families, whose needs around the world are at an all-time high,” added Mr. Larsen. “We invite others to join us in funding what will surely be an incredible list of creative, worthwhile and inspired ideas. Other donors can benefit from the rigorous process of organizational and project vetting in this competition, and together, we can have a tremendous impact on future generations.”

Anyone interested in providing significant financial support to any of the competition finalists should contact Dana Rice, Vice President of Philanthropy at Lever for Change at ddrice@leverforchange.macfound.org.

To apply for this Award, which is open to non-profit organizations or teams, organizations must register online before May 5, 2020. Competitive applications will be community-centered, impactful, feasible and evidence-based. Proposals must identify a specific barrier and offer a solution to overcome that barrier. Applications are due by June 2, 2020.

“According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, estimates for the average duration of refugee displacement vary from 10-26 years,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “Most refugees remain in difficult situations far too long. We are excited to partner with Lyna, Chris and ICONIQ Impact to explore solutions that will help refugees – at scale – build new lives.”

“ICONIQ Impact was formed to help ICONIQ families connect to the philanthropic opportunities that mean the most to them and amplify their personal impact,” said Michael Anders, founding partner of ICONIQ Capital. “We are inspired by the passion and collaborative mindset that Lyna and Chris bring to their philanthropy and honored that their competition is serving as ICONIQ Impact’s first Lever for Change competition.”

In addition to the US $10 million provided by the Larsen-Lam family, US $2 million has been contributed by an anonymous donor family from the ICONIQ network. Top applicants and finalists may also be eligible to receive operational support from Rippleworks, a nonprofit social venture established by long-time Silicon Valley executives Chris Larsen and Doug Galen. Rippleworks leads short-term, high-impact projects to accelerate the scale of the world’s most promising social ventures, with the projects led by Rippleworks staff and volunteer startup executives from leading tech companies (including AirBnB, Netflix, Google).

Update on Lever for Change

“The Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award is the fourth competition that Lever for Change has managed since our founding in early 2019. We are eager to work with applicants from around the world to find creative solutions to this significant challenge,” added Ms. Conrad.

Lever for Change competitions launched in 2019 include: the Pritzker Traubert Foundation’s $10 million Chicago Prize, the second round of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million 100&Change, and the $10 million Economic Opportunity Challenge.

In the first half of 2020, Lever for Change plans to launch several additional competitions addressing a variety of issues and ranging in scope from state-based to global, including:

  • A US $10 million competition focused on increasing women’s power and influence in the U.S.;
  • Lone Star Prize, a US $10 million competition focused on improving the lives of Texans, sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies;
  • 2030 Climate Challenge, a US $10 million competition to reduce emissions in the U.S.; and
  • A US $10 million competition to strengthen American democracy, the next competition in the ICONIQ Impact series.


ICONIQ Impact is ICONIQ Capital’s platform for collaborative philanthropy. ICONIQ Impact’s goal is to unlock philanthropic capital and guide it to proven social entrepreneurs and organizations with scalable models that provide outsized, measurable results. Inspired by the investment edge afforded by their network of families, founders and portfolio companies across industries, ICONIQ Impact aims to harness the dynamics of collective wisdom and apply these to the philanthropic world.

Lever for Change

Lever for Change is a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation affiliate, whose mission is to unlock philanthropic capital and accelerate social change around the world’s biggest social challenges. Building off of the success of 100&Change, MacArthur’s breakthrough $100 million competition, Lever for Change helps philanthropists source vetted, high-impact philanthropic opportunities and connects nonprofits and problem solvers to significant amounts of philanthropic capital. Lever for Change does this through managing customized competitions for philanthropists or by matching them with solutions in its Bold Solutions Network, a searchable online database of the top vetted proposals from all of its competitions.

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