The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced the opening of round six of its Grand Challenges Explorations, a $100 million grant initiative to encourage bold and unconventional global health solutions.

Grand Challenges Explorations offers researchers the chance to win grants of $100,000 to foster innovative projects with the potential to transform health in developing countries. The initiative focuses on areas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed.

For this round, applicants are asked to focus their proposals on one of five topic areas: new approaches to cure HIV infection; next-generation sanitation technologies; low-cost cell phone-based applications for priority global health conditions; new technologies to support maternal and newborn health; and the poliovirus endgame: ways to accelerate, sustain, and monitor eradication.

The topic focusing on sanitation technologies highlights the integrated approach the foundation is taking toward health in developing countries. Improved sanitation is essential to reducing waterborne illnesses and has profound economic, educational, and social benefits.

The initiative uses a streamlined grantmaking process. Applications are two pages, and preliminary data about the proposed research is not required. All are encouraged to apply.

The foundation and an independent group of reviewers will select the most innovative proposals, and grants will be awarded within approximately four months from the proposal submission deadline.

Initial grants will be $100,000. Projects showing success will have the opportunity to receive additional funding of up to $1 million.
Grand Challenges Web site

Elephant Energy is looking for volunteers to work on our small-scale renewable energy projects in Namibia, Africa starting in May/June 2010 (see ). EE works to distribute and market small-scale renewable energy technologies in wildlife-rich conservancy areas in rural Namibia. We are looking for one or two volunteers that are able to start quickly, think independently, and run projects on the ground relating to small-scale renewable energy distribution with the support of the World Wildlife Fund in Namibia and associated NGOs. Elephant Energy is currently fundraising to provide support for volunteers, including funding for plane tickets, lodging and a small stipend, however, the ability to self-fund some or all these expenses or help raise funds is a plus. In addition, volunteers from Colorado are preferred, so future involvement with the Elephant Energy organization is possible.

In less than a year of operation, Elephant Energy has worked with numerous locally-run conservation organizations to distribute and market nearly 1000 BoGo solar-powered lights (see ) to community members through the use of revenue earned from community wildlife tourism efforts. EE plans to continue working with these local conservation organizations to establish energy shops throughout the rural Caprivi region that will provide cheap, durable, life-changing energy technologies to rural residents. We are currently experimenting with a variety of new technologies, including cookstoves, UV water purifiers, solar phone chargers, etc.

This project is run by creative, hard working volunteers that are given lodging and potentially a small stipend for their work. We want to work wth volunteers that are interested in starting something new and investing themselves in something that is sure to grow (See for more info). As our organization is growing, we are looking for volunteers that would be willing to spend an extended period working to help establish our program in Namibia (at least four months, but six months is preferred). A relevant degree (environmental studies, energy, law, business) and prior work with communities in developing countries is the most appropriate experience. Any relevant knowledge would be appreciated to help us innovate and expand our projects.

How to Apply:
Please let us know if you are Interested in working with Elephant Energy in Africa. Interested volunteers should read EE’s 2009 Field Report available at ) and submit a resume and short letter describing their interest and availability to