Saving Brains


As many as 200 million children fail to reach their full potential. Children in poverty have a higher chance of adversity that risks disrupting brain development. This is a devastating waste of human capital that leaves the next generation ill equipped to solve the enormous challenges that lock individuals, communities and societies in poverty.

Community worker and Mother congratulate baby for completing puzzle (Kingston, Jamaica)

The challenge is to develop sustainable ways to promote and nurture healthy child and brain development in the first 1000 days at scale with lasting impact on human capital in low-resource settings.

Current partners are Grand Challenges Canada (funded by the Government of Canada), Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Maria Cecilia Souto Vidigal Foundation, Palix Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation and World Vision Canada.

Total Investments to Date: $41 million invested in 107 projects and a Platform to accelerate progress against the challenge.

To learn about the portfolio of innovations, visit

For more information, view the Saving Brains − Information Sheet (PDF).



Request for Proposals − July 2014

In this call for proposals, Grand Challenges Canada seeks bold ideas with real-world impact that also have the potential to be scaled up. To this end, innovative approaches and sound evaluation are expected to test how the intervention should be delivered to reach the highest number of children, how the intervention should be optimized to have the most impact on each child reached, and how to financially sustain this impact at scale.

We expect to fund proposals through two funding streams: seed (up to $250,000 CAD) and transition to scale (up to $1 million CAD in matched funding).

The Saving Brains July 2014 Request for Proposals is now closed, the application deadline was September 8, 2014. Applicants will be notified of funding decisions as outlined in the Request for Proposals.


Archived Request for Proposals



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