Disney and Investing in Children

children's prize children of different backgroundsThe recent announcement that blockbuster director JJ Abrams would be directing the next Star Wars movie for new owner Disney is a reminder of the titanic size of our investment, so to speak, in our children. But Star Wars is just one small spot of light in the Disney universe. Across all of its myriad divisions, the company raked in $41 billion last year, good for 66th place on the Fortune 500.

Revenue represents sales, and in the case of Disney, it seems fair to categorize the vast majority of those sales as expenditures by, on behalf of, or at least related to children (the company has very few product lines aimed at childless adults). How does that kind of spending compare to some of the numbers surrounding child mortality? After all, a dollar spent on Disney is typically spent to make our children happy. A dollar spent on child mortality is spent to save their lives.

As explained in our earlier post this month, US foreign aid totaled 31 billion, with private aid adding enough to this number to top the money spent around the world on just Disney products - but not by much. Another comparison: the Gates Foundation's Global Health program is the largest of its kind in the world, and according to Wikipedia, is roughly the same size as either the World Health Organization's interventions or the infectious disease program of USAID. The annual outlay at the Gates Foundation? About $800 million, only 2% of the money spent on all things Disney.

It was also pointed out in another earlier post that 7 million children die every day of preventable causes, worldwide. As a hypothetical exercise, if the Disney money were diverted to the cause of saving these children, each of them would have $5,850 to work with. That's a sum that just might be enough to make a big difference for most.

The Children’s Prize is a contest where $1 million is offered to save the lives of as many children under age 5 as possible. It remains to be seen how many lives can be saved for this sum, but once the contest has run and the winning project has been implemented, we do know that one more number describing our investment in children will have been added to the universe.

What is the Value of a Human Life?

children's prize white swan on water human life So, what value would you place on a year of human life? $50,000? Or maybe it’s $129,000?  An article in Time, citing research from Stanford Business School, used data on the health care industry to come up with these estimates. By observing which expensive medical procedures are covered and which are not, and collecting data on how many years they add to the average patient’s life, the researchers were able to estimate the value of a year of life.

Or perhaps, as explained in The Huffington Post, it makes more sense to look at how toxins are regulated at the EPA, where the government agency has long relied on a “value of a statistical life” to make policy and regulatory decisions. The value has bounced around a little but is right around $8 million.

These estimates are surprisingly close if we consider an expectancy of around 80 years – both suggest an $8 to $10 million price tag placed by society on a human life in its entirety – provided that life is an American citizen. It’s not clear how the lives of foreign citizens are valued. During the Iraq war, condolence payments by the US Department of Defense to the families of civilian bystanders killed in that country averaged about $2,500, according to the Army Times.

At the extreme end of the scale, from the perspective of Bill Gates, perhaps the world's largest donor working to reduce child mortality, some life-saving vaccines cost as little as 23 cents per person (as explained in Forbes). A different approach to the same math, again concerning the vaccine programs of the Gates Foundation, comes up with a total cost of about $500 to save a child's life (see the article in the New York Times).

The Children’s Prize is a contest where $1 million is offered to save the lives of as many children under age 5 as possible. The contest administrators do not presume to know how many lives can be saved for this sum, but they do require that these exact same lives would otherwise be very likely lost if not for the Prize. For the Children’s Prize, a child’s life is a child’s life, independent of nationality, gender, ethnicity, or creed.

In trying to predict the number of beneficiaries of the Prize, the range seems enormous. The contest is open to the entire world, and it’s hard not to assume that poorer countries will offer opportunities to save more lives for less money, when compared to richer countries.

Finalists for the Children’s Prize will be announced this summer; check the website for regular updates.

Pneumonia: the leading and forgotten child killer

children's prize xray chest lungs pneumoniaDid you know that... Pneumonia kills more children under five worldwide than AIDS, malaria and measles combined?

Pneumonia is an acute respiratory infection that affects the lungs. It can be caused by a virus, bacteria or fungi. The greatest concentration of children affected live in poverty-stricken, developing regions where access to interventions is a major barrier. Pneumonia is considered one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet it is referred to as the "forgotten killer" reflecting the little attention it has received historically. As a result, global leaders sought to change this by creating a day of recognition. November 12th was designated as World Pneumonia Day.

In 2011 alone, pneumonia claimed the lives of 1.3 million children, responsible for nearly one in five global child deaths.

Risk factors for pneumonia include stunting and underweight, sub-optimal breastfeeding, lack of immunization and indoor air pollution from household use of solid fuels. “Pneumonia can be prevented and cured. Yet, for too long it has been the leading cause of global deaths among children. We know what to do, and we have made great progress – but we must do more. We must scale-up proven solutions and ensure they reach every child in need,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Healthy children have natural defenses that protect their lungs from pneumonia-causing pathogens. However, children that have a weakened immune systems and exposure to environmental factors have a greater susceptibility to pneumonia. Preventing children from developing pneumonia include promoting good nutrition, immunization, reducing indoor air pollution. Research also indicates that hand-washing may have an impact in reducing the  incidence of pneumonia. Treating pneumonia should be done early with antibiotics. An important component of saving children from pneumonia is recognizing the symptoms such as difficulty breathing and fast breathing.

Here is another way that the Children's Prize would like to support saving children's lives. Are you working in this area and looking to make an impact with an idea to reduce pneumonia in children under-5? Then, let's connect to make a difference together!

Apply now for an opportunity to win a $1 million dollars and help save children's lives.

Neonatal Mortality Facts: Every year nearly 40% of all under-5 child deaths are among newborn infants

children's prize neonatal mortality infant against mother

Did you know...? Every year nearly 40% of all under-5 child deaths are among newborn infants. Do you work in preventing neonatal mortality and have an idea that you’d like to implement to save newborn lives? Then, the $1 million Children’s Prize may be an opportunity worth your time!

The neonatal period of infant development is critical to survival. This refers to the first 28 days following birth. According to Child Info, although under-5 child mortality has experienced a declining trend in numbers from 1990, the neonatal mortality trend has not declined. In fact, the percentage of neonatal deaths within the under-5 child mortality range is increasing, from about 36% in 1990 to about 43% in 2011, and this trend is expected to continue. Regions reporting the largest increase in numbers are North Africa and Eastern Asia.

Globally, neonatal mortality shows a slower decline at 1.8% per year when compared to under-5 mortality decline at 2.5% per year. Focusing on health interventions to address major causes of neonatal mortality is necessary since they differ from those interventions that are appropriate for children under-5. One major cause of neonatal death is being born prematurely which means the infant is not fully grown and is highly vulnerable to infections and birth complications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), many premature deaths are preventable. Other major causes of neonatal death include low-birth-weight, asphyxia and birth trauma.

This alarming neonatal mortality trend has resulted in a call for systemic action worldwide. Women and newborns need effective, low-cost care to reduce neonatal deaths and promote healthy behaviors. Reaching the UN Millennium Development Goal 4 thereby demands that greater focus be placed in reducing neonatal mortality if we are serious about achieving the 2015 goal.

By offering the chance to apply for and win a $1 Million, the Children's Prize supports your effort to reduce neonatal mortality.  Let's make a difference together!

What happens when you click Apply Now for the Children’s Prize?

Does seeing the big Apply Now button seem daunting? Don't worry...Applying to the Children’s Prize is easy and simple!

Step 1:

You start the process by clicking the Apply Now button on our website, as shown below.
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Step 2:

You'll be directed to the page below where you'll be encouraged to review the Guidelines and Privacy Policy.  We also suggest at this time that you also spend some time on reading the FAQ.

Children's Prize Start Page

Step 3:

Once you click the Start button in Step 2, you'll begin the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire made up of 10 short - Yes or No - types of questions. The following question is an example:

Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Children's Prize

Step 4:

Once you've completed the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and it’s determined that you’re eligible to apply for the $1 million Children’s Prize, you’ll begin the Entry Form. Notice at the top, that the Entry Form has two tabs – Contact Information and Project Summary. In the Contact Information tab, you’ll be providing contact information and specifying if you’re submitting for the Children’s Prize as an Individual or an Organization.

children's prize contact information

Step 5:

Once you've completed the Contact Information tab, then you select the Project Summary tab. In the Project Summary tab, you’ll be providing details about your proposed project to save children’s lives. The information in this section includes Project name, location, description, etc.

children's prize project summary tab

Step 6:

Before submitting your Entry Form, make sure that read the statements below and understand the Guidelines and Privacy Policy.

i agree i disagree statements children's prize contest

**Please note that the Entry Form can be saved as a draft throughout this process; just click Save Draft at the bottom of the page. However, the information will not be submitted until you click Submit.

Foreign aid and private philanthropy

Foreign Aid Children's PrizeAmerican foreign aid can be divided into government assistance and private philanthropy. In the United States, individual citizens give away almost as much money to impoverished regions of the world as our government does.

According to the OECD,  foreign aid from the US government in 2011 totaled $31 billion. Private philanthropy is not precisely measured, but estimates from Wikipedia range from $10 to $30 billion, excluding remittances from migrant workers and other money flows abroad that would not be considered "aid".

The folks at The World Bank have developed a rather limited online tool called AidFlows to track foreign aid by donor, beneficiary, or specific institution. The US government spent 0.2% of the Gross National Income (GNI) on foreign aid in 2011; the average for OECD countries (the world's 34 most highly developed nations) that year was 0.31% of GNI. The UK gave 0.53% and Sweden gave just over 1% of GNI. As a percentage of the GNI, American government aid is not particularly generous, but our large size increases our impact, as does the generosity of our private sector. One other interesting point: the World Bank classifies the majority of US government aid as technical or project assistance; humanitarian aid represents less than 20% of the total.

The Children's Prize offers $1 million to the winner of our contest to save the lives of children age 5 and under. The contest may be won by domestic or international proposals. It is a humanitarian effort that seems small compared with the billions in US foreign aid, but its peer-to-peer architecture is intended to foster a more modern and direct form of philanthropy that, by empowering donors and recipients alike, may be able to nudge these figures upward over time.

Philanthropy and Charities

Philanthropy Charities Childrens PrizeAccording to Reuters, Americans give around $300 billion to charity each year. The vast majority of this total is spent on domestic causes; less than 10% is for foreign aid, according to Wikipedia.

Philanthropy has become a major industry, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that there are well over one million charities in the US. Most of us experience a tidal wave of donor appeals in our mailboxes each holiday season, and indeed throughout the year.

Where does all this money go? Most of it seems to go to good causes. Charity Navigator has become the country's most well-established watchdog of the philanthropy industry, and reports what fraction of the donations received at a charity goes to fund programs rather than overhead. Most (but not all) large charities appear to be well run, and transparency has increased somewhat in recent years. That's a good thing, because the size of these charities is massive: the US has five charities with billion dollar budgets, and at twenty charities, CEO pay tops $1 million.

Despite the information that is publicly available, and despite the best intentions of the philanthropy industry, donors can still be faced with considerable misgivings about the efficacy of their charitable giving. The internet is our best friend in these cases, with Charity Navigator, similar data compilation efforts, and the charities themselves providing substantial information, including the publicly available IRS 990 tax returns that charities must complete each year detailing receipts and expenses.

But there is another problem as well: what if a donor has a specific goal in mind, but there is no charity out there whose mission matches that goal sufficiently, while also winning the donor's trust? It is easy for donor inertia to take over in such a case, and donors may postpone their charitable giving or redirect to other causes and agencies.

The Children's Prize offers $1 million to save the lives of children age 5 and under, anywhere in the world. It is a very specific objective that has been advanced by the donor, and the prize is structured as a peer-to-peer contest that, to a large extent, bypasses the need for a large charitable organization to act as an intermediary between the donor and his or her goal. Furthermore, the prize is structured as a contest to increase the quality and efficacy of the proposed pathways toward meeting the donor's goal. This competitive aspect also differentiates the Prize from most conventional charity.

The Children's Prize represents a drop in the bucket when compared with the $300 billion in US total charitable giving, but this model could empower both donors and recipients, and thereby overcome some of the donor inertia and uncertainty that the philanthropy industry, as it is now structured, must contend with.

A Year in Review

What does it cost to save the lives of Chiteddy bear covering eyes save the lives of children Childrens Prizeldren?  Children around the world faced incredible challenges in 2012 as a result of natural disasters and violent conflict. These situations leave already vulnerable children in an even more vulnerable predicament, threatening their protection and survival. In the video below, UNICEF shares their collective effort to help vulnerable children around the world.

Although child mortality rates have been significantly reduced from 1990, 2012 was a year of renewal progress that called on all of us to act through A Promise Renewed. This is an effort to mobilize the world to achieve an ambitious, yet achievable goal – to end preventable child deaths. Every child should be given the opportunity to survive and thrive. We are all here today with one vision, to make sure that every child everywhere lives to see his or her 5th birthday; to eliminate preventable child death in a generation,” says Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton.

We have reached a point in human history where we have the technologies and available knowledge to reach the world’s most vulnerable children with life-saving interventions. However, these very simple, highly effective and very low-cost interventions are still not reaching those that mostly need them. According to Oliver Sabot with the Clinton Health Access Initiation, hundreds of thousands of children and mothers can be saved by products that cost less than 50 cents. This is absolutely astounding and it once again raises the question, what does it cost to save a life?


Child Mortality & The Children's Prize

The Children's Prize is rooted in the fundamental belief that all children are equally deserving of life. "There are two sides to most issues, but there are not two sides to child mortality.  We can all agree that every little child deserves to live," says prize creator Ted Caplow.

love care child hands

Following the Millennium Summit in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were established to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world's poorest countries.  Millennium Development Goal 4 focuses on child mortality rates. The aim is to reduce by two-thirds the under-5 child mortality rate by 2015 from the 1990 level.

Currently, the number of under-five deaths worldwide is approximately 7 million. According to the 2012 Levels and Trend Child Mortality report:

  • The leading causes of death among children under age five are pneumonia (18% of all under-five deaths); preterm birth complications (14%); diarrhoea (11%); intrapartumrelated complications (complications during birth; 9%); and malaria (7%). Globally, more than a third of under-five deaths are attributable to under-nutrition.
  • About half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries: India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and China. India (24 percent) and Nigeria (11 percent) together account for more than a third of all under-five deaths.

Children represent our future. Connect with us if you're passionate about saving children's lives!




How does the Children's Prize contest work?

children's prize ideas innovation bulbIt's simple! The Children's Prize is an Internet-based, global contest made up of two rounds.

In the 1st round, called the Entry Form round, the contest is open to the public all over the world. That's right! Anyone at all - whether an individual, a non-profit, a government entity or a commercial company - can apply for the $1 million prize. The Entry Form is easily accessible through our website by clicking the 'Apply Now' button. The 1st round is open from 14 Jan 2013 until 1 May 2013.

The 2nd round, called the Prize Plan round, is by invitation only. Selected applicants will be notified via email and asked to submit a more detailed prize plan proposal, including supporting material such as photos, videos, reference letters, etc. The deadline for the Prize Plan round will be in late June.

childrens' prize award medal quality

The submitted Prize Plans will then be judged by the Children’s Prize creators, administrators, and judges.  Finalists will be announced in August 2013. The life-saving interventions proposed by these Finalists will be showcased on our website in an effort to increase awareness and encourage broader support for their efforts. The Winner of the $1 million Children's Prize will be selected and notified prior to our Award Ceremony, which will take place in December 2013.

Please check our website regularly for any updates and changes to the Children's Prize contest or schedule.

For further information, or if you would like to apply, please review the contest Guidelines.