News TED Prize

You Tell Us: What would you do for the world with $1 million? Part 2!

Posted by: Elizabeth Jacobs

Nominations for the TED Prize are open from now until August 31st. Meaning that there’s still time to nominate a great thinker you’ve always admired, a mentor who’s helped you along the way or a friend with a wonderful idea to inspire change around the world. This year, you can even nominate yourself for the $1 million award.

With the nomination deadline approaching, we asked you last week what you would do for the world with $1 million. And we got some pretty amazing answers. The question exploded in the comments section, on our TED Conversation, as well as on our Facebook page. And thus, we decided to continue the dialogue this week. Below, some of the most inspiring ideas shared in the past week and a half:

“I would start a non-profit organization that deployed health care advocates to regional hospitals to assist often uninformed patients with their healthcare choices. These would be people not only well-versed in the health care system, but knowledgeable about choices patients need to make about their health.” — Amy Timmins

“Research and promote clean emissions applicable to every vehicle (like an exhaust capturing filter) making my gift to the world clean air!” — Jacob Michael McDevitt

“My plan would be to create a free food program. It’s my theory that with food and shelter covered it would be easier to get people’s attention and wake up, to band together and attempt to create a proper change against our Corpratocracy.” — Victor-Antonio Ali

“I’d establish a global support agency for families of missing people. It’s a grief that is not commonly acknowledged by society because of its lack of completeness, of finality. I’d provide a space where people could wait and hope and feel embraced by others who understand.” — Sarah Wayland

“Expand family planning programs across the neediest areas.” — Mirko Saam Diaz

“Open an art studio under the name of ‘Right Turns’ in a poverty stricken community for at risk kids to explore and create in the world of arts.” — Carrie Zwagerman

“[I would do] exactly what I am doing — assisting rural indigenous communities grappling with climatic change and globalization to achieve food sovereignty by increasing local, diversified food access and nutrition. Empowering the people in the documentation and protection of their traditional knowledge, habitat, and genetic resources. PS: You don’t need a million dollars to help the world. All you really need is compassion.” — Heather Cruise

“Some [money] I would use to start schools in underdeveloped countries prone to violent extremism. I see education as one of the primary ways to battle this evil. The rest I would use to provide micro-loans to small business owners in various 3rd world countries.” — Eric Henry

“I’d design an app that would enable every 5-year-old in the world to receive a sight and hearing check. The ‘i-nurse’ app would be a simple way to carry out the test and then make a referral based on a ‘traffic light’ system of need.” — Carl McCarthy

“Continue to build our language immersion preschool programs and encourage nationwide multilingualism and language learning in the classroom.” — Patti Martin

“I’d create an organization dedicated to helping women who are rebuilding their lives after escaping domestic violence/abusive situations to make their dreams happen.” — Ronda Bowen

“Education. Put together a group of experts, parents, experienced teachers etc. and let them work out a good, modern and adequate school/education system OR even better, take the elaborated ideas that already exist and put the money into the implementation of that system. There are enough ideas and projects out there — take for example classes with a diversity of cultures and ethnicities. Put the money into projects like that. Because, as always, education is our highest value.” — Nell Forest

“Build a high speed rail from SETX to Houston so people can obtain better employment.” — Cody Underwood

“NOTHING. We always try to improve, to fix things and to solve problems with money, while [money is] the main cause of them.” — Dariø Cervellin 

“I would develop a math program for people wanting to go back to community college to get new job skills in the US.” — Joanna Schneier

“Start a worldwide campaign to use all war machines as cleaning and protection machines for the environment.” — Ja Lubin

“I would create a venture with Apple to distribute x000s of iPad with satellite Internet connection to remote villages in developing countries.” — Sébastien Paris

“You could benefit plenty in a small way or benefit a few in a larger way. But if we want to go for the broadest and longest term effect, I would set up 20 $50,000 scholarships for the brightest kids that plan on going into the field of science. Start training our next generation to propel us forward and not to learn how to make great web pages or use an auto-tuner so they can be the next flavor of the month.” — John Davis

“I would setup a TED program in the Philippines like the ones from other industrialized countries, employ smart people and educate my countrymen about the world. So they could also invest in whatever is good for our country like education scholarships for smart people who are less fortunate. Allocate some on science and technology, health and research without the involvement of the government.” — Jun Sibal

“I’d use it to fund micro-lending programs and would donate tablet computers pre-loaded with educational programs for third world primary schools. 1M won’t solve all the problems in the world, but you have to start somewhere.” — Susan Hurst

Join the conversation or share your ideas below about what you would do for the world with $1 million. And don’t forget to nominate yourself or others for the TED Prize by August 31, using these official nomination forms.

Comments (21)

  • khalid ahmed commented on Sep 21 2012

    what happening about this talk guy’s I’m wait …..

  • Michael Barnathan commented on Sep 5 2012

    That creative school other people are suggesting? I’m trying to do something similar: That would be where the $1 million would go, though that would only be enough to start, though that alone would not take it all the way.

  • Maksim Radev commented on Aug 24 2012

    I would make the coolest school in the world, where anyone can receive knowledge and every idea would be heard and discussed. Where any kid or grown will be respected for he’s/her’s uniqueness. Place where education is a product of love of science – a science which teaches that any life or ecosystem on the Earth stands before everything else.

  • Priscilla Wolfe commented on Aug 22 2012

    I would invest in a sustainable environment based on the city systems of The Venus Project to serve the less fortunate members of society and raise their level of education, health, and welfare.

  • Tara Limbu commented on Aug 21 2012

    Build a cheap desalination plant all over the world, cos millions have no access to clean water. Water is the basic necessity of life.

  • Guillermo Balboa commented on Aug 20 2012

    with the help of the best minds in the world I would create a prototype of a self sustaining enviroment that would seek to serve as an example to future generations to come , in this prototype enviroment, science, art , sports and all known academic subjects related would be the younger generations main activities

  • Xing Chen commented on Aug 19 2012

    Identify pairs of schools- one in a wealthy developed nation, and one in a relatively poor nation. Ensure that their curricula and teaching quality have comparably high standards. Then, allow half the children from each school to swap places, for several months. The idea is to provide as much interaction, friendship formation, and immersion in a different culture, as possible. These experiences will allow the kids to grow into adults who see others as fellow human beings, regardless of nationality and religious and cultural roots.

  • Raul Sacristan commented on Aug 18 2012

    I would create a school with a educational system based on Education2.0 that all the bright people (Sir Ken Robinson, Will Richardson and other) are suggesting.

  • Ruth Stavrik commented on Aug 18 2012

    Cancer in the number one killer in the world. The billions spent on drug based research have produced survival benefits measured in weeks/months. Cancer immunotherapy research can change all this, but a paradigm shift is needed in the medical community and cancer funding agencies. Professor Carl June has just managed to secure a deal with Novartis for funding after receiving funds from a small private fund for a 3 man clinical trial, which had staggering results.
    Other researchers like Prof Daniel Powell and Prof Brad Nelson are researching immunotherapy strategies for solid tumours, in a bid to control the most fatal cancers as chronic condition, and even cure. If I had a million dollars I would donate it to a small clinical trial for cancer immunotherapy, conducted by researchers like these. It is beyond belief that these researchers still need more funds, and that drug based research is still favoured. The Novartis move is the beginning of the paradigm shift I hope, but much much more needs to be done.

  • Naiem Yeganeh commented on Aug 18 2012

    Honestly, what can one do with 1 million to have an effect?? One million is so little that the only possible effect it can have is to help educate a few poor children, hoping that they can do better than what you could do.
    To have an effect on the world, there are two cases: 1, No money needed: money doesn’t count when you are an artist or you have some individual contribution, and 2, tens of billions of dollars is required on investments that change the world (e.g. energy, medical etc.)
    In any case, 1 million would not have an effect.

  • Aparna Sachar commented on Aug 17 2012

    I have lived in Hong Kong for 12 years and this city has given me a lot. I would like to give something back. I feel people in Hong Kong are attracted to material and external things and this makes them unhappy. I would like to help them get in touch with their inner selves and make them feel the freedom and joy that comes from not being depended on external things for your happiness. I will open a spiritual center in the outskirts of the city which will be able to house many people. The ultimate purpose would be to calm calm people’s minds, slow them down so they have time to smell the roses, hone their intuition and guide them as to how living with minimum brings more happiness and ultimately to bring them lasting bliss.
    In fact I am already on this path. I have just left my very well paying job to help people change their attitude and discover a new way of living.
    Right now the plan is ready in my mind, first few steps have already been take but money is the only constraint.

  • khalid ahmed commented on Aug 17 2012

    Solar energy independence for the provision of water across the bridges of cells

  • khalid ahmed commented on Aug 17 2012

    The establishment of an international organization elected from each member states working on a Report for the lack of their own, the organization continuity between the other organizations fill shortages

  • Teja Tanchangya commented on Aug 17 2012

    I will use it to further develop my potentials and capacities, so that I can help others also to develop their potentials and capacities to live happily and peacefully. This is because however much the passion I have to make this world a better place, I would not be able to do so without my potentials and capacities being developed to the extend that nothing can move me away. The process would involve either funding my studies or investing for a larger amount to produce both quality and quantity for better service. If I can motivate people by my own exemplification in this way, there will be an interactive and reflexive process which will lead to peace and happiness not only in individuals but also among individuals.

  • khalid ahmed commented on Aug 17 2012

    $ 1 million represents a lot we have here in Sudan set several projects to assist with rights to live a life of luxury.
    I myself would like to take the issue of reconstruction of infrastructure and the establishment of centers for information technology development and schools to teach children and create an environment conducive to innovation and the development of the private sectors by opening employment opportunities through establishment of links between the individual and society within the income unlimited and push the economy to a first round in the development of Sudan .
    I’m talking about Sudan because the worst affected areas.
    Generally I can tell you that Sudan population 70% below the poverty level depend on income per day
    10% rely on financing from abroad 15% were taking their right and the right of their brothers who are rich in government

    • khalid ahmed commented on Aug 17 2012

      The establishment of an international organization Atakb of all member states is working on Report this lack of state and the continuity between the rest of the organization organizations bridge the shortfall

  • Keith Olson commented on Aug 17 2012

    I would use it as seed money to help finance my life goal of being part of saving ten million lives by getting information on location-independent technologies (…which can be made by locals out of local materials, with only the most basic of local tools. e.g. biochar, rocket stoves, and ceramic water filters.) to every community in every developing nation in the world. Anyone can feel free to email me at if you would like more info.

  • Janet Barrow commented on Aug 17 2012

    I would use the money to help finance a school I helped to build in Honduras, the LAMB Institute. The school also has other programs initiated to help the surrounding neighborhood that also need support. The food bank needs healthier options to distribute to the families living there. The Alonzo Movement helps get young men off the streets and away from gun violence that is so prevalent there. (This was named after a young law student who was shot and killed for his phone while working at the school.)

  • commented on Aug 17 2012

    I would start a pilot program to educate institutional cooks on ethnic cooking so that immigrant children in schools, and adults in hospitals and nursing homes could have access to nutritious food relevant to their cultures.

  • Cobra Commander commented on Aug 17 2012

    I would uses stolen satellites and an inexplicable headquarters in the Himalayas to take over the airwaves, broadcasting Cobra TV to turn public opinion against G.I. Joe and in favor of their snake-themed one world government.

  • Sébastien Paris commented on Aug 17 2012

    Hi Liz,
    Too bad you selected the technical part to mention my proposal, and not the objective. I think technology IS the answer to less-fortunate nations as technology IS today’s education through universal published knowledge. Thanks :)