Skip to main content

Registration for the 11th annual Asia Summit in Singapore September 18-20 is now open!

MI Philanthropy Newsletter: February 2024

MI Philanthropy Newsletter: February 2024

In This Newsletter

Program Highlights
MI Philanthropy and Partners in the News

Even as we plan for 2024’s calendar of MI events, publications, and retreats, MI Philanthropy has been studying the impact we made in 2023. We’re proud to say that 2023 was an incredible year for MI Philanthropy and our partners. The data we’ve gathered tell a story of intentionally curated convenings, smart strategies, and a collective desire to be the change we all wish to see in the world.

2023 at a Glance

infographic 2023 at a glance


Preventing Gun Violence: A Milken Institute Innovation Forum
The Milken Institute hosted the Innovation Forum on Preventing Gun Violence in San Francisco on October 25–26, 2023, as part of the Milken Institute Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) Initiative. This first-of-its-kind convening explored how technologies, expanded community collaboration, and innovative models could unlock real progress to prevent gun violence and address its societal repercussions. The Milken Institute GVP Initiative will continue its work with further convenings, programs, and thought leadership in 2024, including the creation of a funding roadmap for the prevention of gun violence in the US, in partnership with the Joyce Foundation.

Pathways to Strategic Philanthropy: The Corporate Philanthropy Leadership Collective
In 2023, MI Philanthropy, in partnership with the Visa Foundation, launched the Corporate Philanthropy Leadership Collective (PLC). The Corporate PLC serves as a forum for senior-level corporate philanthropy professionals to engage in peer learning and exchange practical, action-oriented strategies to enhance their operational effectiveness and programmatic impact. Members convened at the Milken Institute Global Conference and at side events surrounding the opening of the 78th United National General Assembly to delve into topics most relevant to enhancing their professional performance and social impact objectives.

Breakthrough Discoveries for thriving with Bipolar Disorder
In 2023, Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder (BD²) funded its first cohort of geneticists, clinicians, brain imaging experts, molecular biologists, and neuroscientists all focused on research to understand bipolar disorder. Data from across the initiative will be shared in a single platform to facilitate collaboration and open science. With more than $100 million as a foundational investment over the next five years, BD² is bringing cross-disciplinary science under a single umbrella to accelerate discovery and shorten the time it takes to translate findings into the clinic for bipolar disorder. In 2023, BD² awarded more than $60 million in research grants and recruited six sites with clinical expertise in bipolar to the Integrated Network, with more than 100 individuals directly working on the endeavor. The initiative has already resulted in one peer-reviewed paper and an approved centralized research protocol to align data collection across the initiative. Additional sites and grantees will be added in 2024.

The Children’s National Hospital Brain Tumor Program Partnership
An anonymous donor partnered with MI Philanthropy to make a $96 million endowment gift to Children’s National Hospital for brain cancer research, one of the most significant gifts in the hospital’s history. MI Philanthropy played a key role in shaping this gift, identifying unique ways philanthropic capital could fill gaps in the current funding landscape of childhood brain cancer.

Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech attracted 3,300 registrants from 105 countries (80 percent+ from sub-Saharan Africa). Twenty-five teams advanced to the finalist round, representing 16 countries (68 percent from sub-Saharan Africa). Twenty percent of the finalists were companies founded by women, including the grand prize and second-place winning teams. Collectively, finalists received nearly 200 hours of mentorship and more than 900 hours of capacity-building support as part of their experience with the prize process.

  • The $1 million Grand Prize went to NovFeed, a Tanzanian biotech company, for its proprietary technology to upcycle organic waste into nutritious, sustainable, and traceable plant-based protein ingredients and concentrated natural biofertilizer for the food system.

  • The $300,000 second-place award was presented to Karpolax, a Uganda-based company, for its nanotechnology solution that helps fruits and vegetables stay fresh longer without losing nutritional value.

  • The $150,000 award for third place was presented to IRRI-AfricaRice for its biotech innovation to help rice farmers protect crops from flooding, one of the most damaging effects of climate change.



NovFeed, Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech Grand Prize Winner


Principal Investigator Blumberg, Yale Child Study Center


Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy Finalist

Program Highlights

  • The Ann Theodore Foundation Breakthrough Sarcoidosis Initiative awarded $2.6 million in its third cycle of grants to accelerate scientific understanding and treatment of sarcoidosis.

  • MI Philanthropy launched the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy. More than 850 registrants from 79 countries entered. Finalist teams received $750,000 at various stages of the competition to teams test bold ideas to expand access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable off-grid electricity in Africa. Winners will be announced at the Milken Institute Global Conference in May.

  • The Misophonia Research Fund, an initiative of the REAM Foundation, awarded more than $2.3 million in its fifth cycle of funding for research projects that seek to better understand misophonia and effective treatments.

  • The Kissick Family Foundation awarded more than $840,000 in research grant funding for frontotemporal dementia.


MI Philanthropy and Partners in the News

  • Lauren Harte-Hargrove, executive director of the Misophonia Research Fund, was quoted in a detailed USA Today article about what misophonia is, how people experience it, and its prevalence.

  • Cara Altimus, senior director, Milken Institute, and managing director, BD², was featured in a November POLITICO article focused on #brainhealth.

  • The Baltimore Sun published a major feature about BD², exploring the funding and research landscape, and its approach for improving the way bipolar disorder is studied.

  • Should a foundation be time-bound or exist in perpetuity? It depends on the donor. The Wall Street Journal highlighted perspectives and quoted Executive Vice President, MI Philanthropy, Melissa Stevens.

  • Cara Altimus, PhD spoke with The Journal of the American Medical Association, discussing BD² and its efforts to transform research and care for bipolar disorder. Learn more about the BD² collaborative approach.

  • WTOP news reported on the $96 million gift to Children's National Hospital for brain cancer research, one of the most significant donations in the hospital's history. Senior Director, MI Philanthropy, Cara Altimus, PhD and MI Philanthropy Director, Caitlin Barrett, PhD,  played a key role in this gift by identifying unique ways philanthropic capital could fill gaps in the current funding landscape of childhood brain cancer. Read MI Philanthropy's statement of support to learn more.

  • Inside Philanthropy featured MI Philanthropy partner Marilyn Simons and husband Jim Simons for their gift to Stony Brook University. The Simonses longstanding commitment to the university has helped grow the school into a leading research institution within New York. The Simonses also received a lifetime achievement award from Forbes Magazine for their work to advance mathematics and basic sciences research.

  • MI Philanthropy Executive Vice President, Melissa Stevens and Associate Director, Hilary McConnaughey coauthored an Alliance Magazine article about the difficulties in streamlining coordination across the philanthropic sector.