TED Prize

The TED Prize, 6 years on

Posted by: Emily McManus

In the lifetime of the TED Prize, we’ve launched more than 20 wishes, generating ongoing projects to save the oceans…to teach and to connect… to prepare for health crises…to catalog all life on Earth. The TED Prize provides seed money and organizational help for each wish.

The TED Prize is unique among global honors. Winners receive not only recognition for their past achievements and a handsome cash prize, but are, more important, granted something extraordinary: “One Wish to Change the World.” Each winner develops a wish project that draws on the passion and engagement of the TED community to produce a powerful, long-lasting result.

Next Wednesday, we will celebrate our 2010 TED Prize winner, Jamie Oliver, and all previous winners — whose wishes are still very vital.

Those who’ve followed the TED Prize in recent years will know that in prior years we’ve announced three winners, not one. For 2010, the fifth-year anniversary of the launch of the prize, we’re doing things differently. 

When we created the prize, we envisioned supporting projects that could be completed in 12 months. But our winners have dreamed up wishes more powerful, more wonderful than we ever could have imagined, and we’ve found that we simply don’t want to stop that quickly! Members of the community are getting passionately engaged in these projects, and they’re not shy to tell us that changing the world can take more than a year. To effect real impact, it’s right to stay involved and sustain the effort. 

We agree. And that means it would be a mistake to add three brand-new wishes every year. There are already more than a dozen TED Prize projects, and at least half of them still require our engagement. Adding too many more risks dilution of effort.

Therefore, after discussion with various wise souls in the community, we are moving to a new format of one new winner every year. At the same time, we’re increasing our capacity to facilitate your amazing efforts on the existing wishes …

Like the Charter for Compassion, from Karen Armstrong’s 2008 wish. It launched late last year, but which can create a ripple effect for years to come.

Like Sylvia Earle’s campaign for marine protected areas, for which we have exciting news to announce shortly.

Like JIll Tarter’s plan to make SETI data publicly available so that millions can join the search for extraterrestial intelligence.

Like José Antonio Abreu’s dream to see his visionary El Sistema music program flourish in America via a fellows program

Like Neil Turok‘s NextEinstein project to build science and math academies in Africa; like Cameron Sinclair‘s Open Architecture NetworkDave Eggers‘ OnceUponASchool and EO Wilson‘s Encyclopedia of Life

There has been exciting progress on all these projects, and we can see that there’s much more to come.

It’s incredibly exciting to welcome Jamie Oliver to join our lineup of change catalysts. And exciting too to know that our existing winners are going to stay at the heart of the TED community as we continue working to realize their inspirational visions for a better future.

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