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Gulf Futures Challenge + Lever for Change + Submittable

Challenge Rules

Explore eligibility and terms and conditions of participating in the Gulf Futures Challenge or contact our helpful support team.

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LEVER FOR CHANGE Gulf Futures Challenge RULES

1. Definitions and interpretation

In this document, capitalized terms have the following meanings, unless otherwise expressly indicated:

1.1  "Application" means an entry submitted by an Applicant in response to the Challenge. The Application includes all attachments and exhibits, and all inputs provided by the Team Leader’s collaborators.

1.2  "Applicant” or “Lead Organization" means an organization that meets the requirements of this Challenge and that submits or proposes to submit an Application to the Challenge and is represented on this Website by a person 18 years of age or older at the time of the Application.

1.3  "Award" means any form of benefit or other forms of recognition to declared or selected Finalists and/or Awardees, as set out in the Challenge Rules.

1.4  “Awardee” means an Applicant whose Application is selected by the Challenge Sponsor to receive award funding in accordance with the Challenge Rules.

1.5  “Challenge” means the Gulf Futures Challenge posted on this Website, however expressed.

1.6  “Challenge Sponsor” means the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) on behalf of its Gulf Research Program. The Challenge Sponsor has contracted with Lever for Change to manage the Challenge. Lever for Change is located at 140 S. Dearborn Street, Chicago, IL 60603-5285.

1.7  “Finalist” means those Applicants whose Applications are selected to advance in the Challenge and be eligible for consideration of a final Award in accordance with the Challenge RULES.

1.8 “Loss" means any direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential liabilities, damages, claims, losses, costs, expenses, actions, demands or suits, whether in contract, tort (including liability due to infringement of intellectual property rights or due to negligence), statute or otherwise and whether pecuniary or non-pecuniary. This includes, but is not limited to, loss of profits, legal costs, and defense or settlement costs.

1.9  “RULES” means these rules governing the Challenge as set forth herein, as may be amended from time to time, as well as other instructions provided by Lever for Change or the Challenge Sponsor.

1.10  “TERMS” means the rules with the platform provider of this Website, Submittable, that apply to Your use of the Website.

1.11  "User" means any person who has registered a user account on this Website. The term "User" includes all Applicants.

1.12   "Website" means any web pages contained within this domain and any sub-domains and all underlying software and infrastructure which permits the holding of the Challenge. Where the context permits, ‘Website’ or 'website' includes the services provided on the Website. This Website platform is run by Submittable Holdings, Inc. (“Submittable”). 

1.13  “You" means the person and organization using the Website, including a User, and a Lead Organization duly organized and validly existing under state or federal law in the United States of America that is represented on the Website by a User that is a person at least 18 years of age who is the duly authorized representative of such Lead Organization. Each person submitting an Application must be authorized to submit the Application and to bind the Lead Organization on whose behalf the Application is being submitted to the RULES.

1.14   “Your” means the possessive of “You”.


Thank you for your interest in the Gulf Futures Challenge, (the “Challenge”). The eligibility requirements to participate in the Challenge are set forth in these RULES and the deadlines for submitting submissions are linked here and incorporated by reference herein.

By participating in the Challenge and in accordance with these RULES governing the Challenge (“RULES”), you are applying to potentially receive various forms of recognition and a possible Award of $20 million from the Challenge Sponsor. The RULES stated here are in addition to the Terms & Conditions  ("TERMS") for use of this Website and You are hereby bound to the same extent and by the same steps as described in the TERMS.  

The full TERMS are available for Your review by accessing them on this Website. 

Please read the RULES and the TERMS carefully, as they describe the conditions under which You are allowed to participate. As you participate, You may periodically be asked to recognize your acceptance of these RULES and the TERMS by clicking "accept" at various pages on this website, but by continuing any use of this Website you expressly consent to all these RULES and the TERMS.



1. Eligibility and Proposal Scope

For the Challenge, organizations eligible to serve as the Lead Organization must be:

  • A public charity under section 501(c)(3) and 509(a)(1) or (2) of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) that has received a tax determination letter from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”);

  • A tribal government treated as a State pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 7871; or

  • A state or local governmental entity which includes government units and government instrumentalities.

In addition, the Lead Organization must be based within Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas, but may partner with organizations located elsewhere. The Lead Organization must be in good standing in the jurisdiction under which it is organized.

The Lead Organization is a single legal entity that has the legal responsibility, authority for and control of the use of any grant funds, is responsible for the reporting on any grant funds, and must be able to exercise in fact and law direction, control, and supervision of the proposed project and the grant funds.

Proposals must apply science, engineering, or medical knowledge to address critical challenges in the Gulf Coast region in at least two of these three areas: The future of the energy transition; the future of environmental change along the Gulf Coast; the future of healthy and resilient communities. 

2. Ineligible persons or entities

The following are examples of parties that are not eligible to apply as the Lead Organization but can serve as collaborators on an Application and receive a subgrant or contract from the Lead Organization to assist the Lead Organization in implementing the proposed solution:

  • Individuals.

  • For-profit entities. 

  • Private foundations based in the United States under section 501(c)(3) of the IRC that have received a tax determination letter from the IRS and which Tax Letter is in effect.

  • Organizations located outside of the Gulf Region (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas).

The following are examples of parties that are not eligible to either apply as the Lead Organization or receive a subgrant or contract from the Lead Organizations to implement the proposed solution, but can serve as volunteer collaborators on the proposed project: 

  • Federal government agencies or entities.

  • Federal government employees.

The following are examples of parties that are not eligible to either apply as the Lead Organization or to serve as a subgrantees, contractors, or collaborators on the Application: 

  • BP Exploration and Production, Inc. (BP), Transocean Deepwater, Inc. (Transocean), their affiliates, and employees. 

  • Employees, Officers, or Board Members of the Challenge Sponsor, Lever for Change, Submittable (the Challenge platform), and any of their subsidiaries and affiliates, and immediate family members (spouse, parent, child, sibling, and their respective spouses, regardless of where they live) or persons living in the same households of such employees, are not eligible to participate.

3. Prohibited Use of Award Funds

Award funds must be used for the charitable project for which they are awarded. Prohibited uses of award funds include:

  • For work outside the Gulf Coast region. Proposed projects should occur in the Gulf of Mexico waters or within 100 miles of the Gulf coastline.

  • For the purpose of lobbying, to carry on propaganda or otherwise to attempt to influence legislation within the meaning of Code Section 4945(d)(1)) and related Treasury regulations);

  • For general funds used for broader purposes than the solution proposed, including to fund general operating support for the Lead Organization and/or any collaborators;

  • To establish a scholarship program;

  • For the creation of an endowment;

  • For the creation of a venture capital fund, or pooled funds to invest in or distribute to for-profit organizations;

  • For loans or microloans to individuals, nonprofit, or for-profit entities;

  • For capital campaigns;

  • For funding of a project where the primary purpose is restoration of specific land or water assets;

  • To fund political organizations and political work (such as the work of 527s and certain types of work in which (501(c)(4) may engage;

  • To undertake any activity for any purpose other than one specified in Section 170(c)(2)(B) of the Tax Code.

4. Collaborations

Eligible Lead Organizations are welcome to collaborate with parties, except to the extent otherwise set forth in these Rules to implement the initiative.

Finalist teams comprised of more than one organization proposing to work together must demonstrate through a fully executed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other similar agreement, executed by all parties, that all parties have agreed that a single eligible entity, the Lead Organization, will serve as the Awardee, if selected, and will have direction, control, and supervision of the proposed project and management of all grant funds and be responsible for all reporting requirements. While MOUs will not be collected in the initial Application, teams selected as Finalists at later stages of the Challenge may be required to submit MOUs. 

5. Multiple Applications from a Single Organization and Overlapping Boards

Regional or location-specific branches of larger organizations, as well as departments, schools, and centers within or based in a college/university, can register and submit separate Applications as long as the proposed solutions are different and separate. As long as each Application is submitted by a different team member with a unique email address, some overlap in team members on different Applications is permitted. Lead Organizations, though, are encouraged to select a single project that best represents its ability to deliver a solution that meets the scoring criteria. Overlapping membership of boards and advisory boards among different Applicants is also permitted.

6. Indirect Costs

While general operating support is not allowed, the Challenge Sponsor recognizes that Applicants may have overhead costs that are not directly attributable to the proposed project but are necessary for implementation. The Challenge Sponsor will consider paying for these indirect costs up to a maximum of 20% of direct project or activity costs within the $20 million award limit. Ensure that any indirect costs are accounted for in the budget in the Application. 

7. Guidance Related to Non-Charitable Activities

Grant funds must be used for charitable purposes and may not result in more than an incidental private benefit to shareholders or other people, organizations, or entities that is a necessary byproduct of the accomplishment of the charitable purpose.

8. Financial and Organizational Capacity

Applicants must demonstrate their financial and organizational capacity to carry out the proposed project and to appropriately manage an Award.

9. Grant Agreement

The successful Finalists and/or Awardees will be expected to enter into a grant agreement with the Challenge Sponsor, containing key terms and conditions which are separate from these RULES and TERMS posted on this Website for this Challenge. Any grant that may be considered pursuant to this process must satisfy legal criteria in the sole discretion of the Challenge Sponsor.

NOTE: The terms of the grant agreement with a Finalist and/or Awardees depend on the nature of the project, the Lead Organization receiving the funds, and the Challenge Sponsor.

10. Reporting

Finalists and /or any Awardees will be required by the terms of their grant agreement with the Challenge Sponsor to report on progress toward milestones and other goals. Those reporting requirements may vary, based on the organization and the project, and will be determined by the Challenge Sponsor. However, a minimum of an annual financial report and an annual narrative report will be required.

11. Other Rules

11.1 Your application must be in English.

11.2 You must complete registration to participate in the Challenge. Individuals representing an applicable organization must be 18 years of age or older at the time of applying to participate.

11.3 Your Application should meet the application requirements stipulated. You are required to register in advance of any deadlines for the submission of the Application, and You must comply with all other deadlines posted on this Website and incorporated herein by reference. Your Application may not, in the sole and unfettered discretion of the Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change, contain obscene, provocative, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable or inappropriate content. The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change reserve the right to cancel, modify, or suspend the Challenge in whole or in part without liability to You. The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change also reserve the right to disqualify You from participating. 

11.4 By participating in the Challenge, You represent, warrant, and agree that: 

  • You are the sole author, creator, and owner of the Application;

  • the Application is not the subject of any actual, suspected, or threatened litigation or claim;

  • the Application does not and will not violate or infringe upon the intellectual property rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other legal rights of any third party;

  • the Application does not and will not contain any harmful computer code (sometimes referred to as "malware," "viruses" or "worms"); 

  • the Application, and Your use of the Application, does not and will not violate any applicable laws or regulations, including, without limitation, applicable export control laws and regulations of the United States and other jurisdictions;

  • If the Application includes any third party works (such as third party content or open source code), You must provide the Challenge Sponsor and Lever for Change with all appropriate licenses and releases for such third party works. In the event You cannot provide all such required licenses and releases, the Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change reserve the right, in the Challenge Sponsor’s sole discretion, to disqualify the applicable Application.

11.5 You may participate by registering, but You may not register more than one true and uniform identity; multiple registrations for a participant using multiple identities are not allowed. Challenge Sponsor, Lever for Change, and/or Submittable reserve the right to disqualify any Application made by a participant violating this limitation, regardless of whether all of the respective parties had knowledge of such violation. Each registrant may submit at most one Application.

11.6  Upon submitting Your Application, the Application will be subjected to an Administrative Review, to ensure compliance with all requirements. Qualified Applications (those that have passed administrative review) will then be distributed to other registrants during a Participatory Review of those Applications. If Your Application qualifies for Participatory Review, the Lead Organization will be required to assess at least three (3) other Entries. If You do not complete those assessments, using the tools and process described on this Website, Your participation may be terminated. Based on normalized scores from each Participatory Review, a rank order of the Entries will be populated. The top-scoring Entries will advance to the next phase of review.  

11.7 The top-scoring Entries as determined by the Participatory Review will advance to an Evaluation Panel review. The Evaluation Panel consists of experts who are identified on this Website. Each of the qualified Entries will be assessed by five Evaluation Panel members, who will be assigned to score these Entries either randomly or after considering any potential conflicts of interest, using the scoring rubric that is described on this Website and which is incorporated by reference herein. In cases where an Evaluation Panel Reviewer indicates any potential conflict of interest, the Application will be assigned to another Reviewer. Based on a set of Evaluation Panel review analysis, a rank order of the Applications will be populated.

 11.8  Once a rank order of Applications has been populated using the Scoring Process, up to ten (10) top Applicants may be named as Finalists. Each Finalist will receive an initial project development grant of $300,000 and technical assistance to strengthen the Finalist’s proposal. After submitting a revised proposal, two Finalists will be selected to receive awards of $20 million to implement their solution. The remaining eight Finalists will each be eligible to receive Awards of up to $875,000 in an additional project development grant.  The Challenge Sponsor will review and discuss the top Applications and will determine any Finalists and/or Awardees, using criteria that Challenge Sponsor will apply in its sole discretion and may incorporate considerations beyond the Evaluation Panel’s reviews.

If a Finalist is unable to fully participate in the next phase of the Challenge, then the Finalist may forfeit its designation as a Finalist. Final determination of each Finalists and Awardee rests solely with the Challenge Sponsor.

11.9  By submitting Your Application, You agree to release, discharge and hold harmless the Challenge Sponsor, Lever for Change, Submittable, and their partners, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising agencies, agents and their employees, officers, directors and representatives from any Loss arising out of Your participation in Challenge and the acceptance and use, misuse, or possession of any Award(s). Neither the Challenge Sponsor, Lever for Change, nor Submittable assume responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, or delay in operation or transmission; communications line failure; theft or destruction of or unauthorized access to Challenge Applications or Application forms; or alteration of Applications or Application forms. Neither the Challenge Sponsor, Lever for Change, nor Submittable are responsible for any problems with or technical malfunction of any telephone network or lines, computer online systems, servers or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any Application to be received on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or any website, human errors of any kind, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to competitors’ or any other persons’ computers related to or resulting from participation, uploading or downloading of any materials related to this Challenge.

11.10 THIS CHALLENGE IS VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Applicants agree that this Challenge shall be subject to and governed by the laws of the District of Columbia, United States of America and the forum of any dispute shall be in the courts of the District of Columbia, United States of America.

11.11 The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever For Change reserve the right in their sole discretion to disqualify any Applicant that tampers with the Application process or the operation of the Challenge; acts in violation of these RULES or the TERMS; acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with the intent to disrupt or undermine the legitimate operation of the Challenge, or to abuse, threaten, or harass any other person.

11.12 Applying as part of this Challenge does not constitute application into any other Lever for Change challenge, Submittable challenge, or promotion that may be offered by the Challenge Sponsor and/or its affiliates.

11.13  The names of the Finalists and Awardees will be posted on this website for such period of time as the Challenge Sponsor deems reasonable.  

11.14   Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, nothing herein represents a commitment by the Challenge Sponsor to award any grant to any entity submitting an Application, participating in, responding to, or submitting subsequent information in response to this Challenge. The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change reserve the right to terminate, alter, or suspend this process and the Challenge at any time, including by closing the Challenge without making any Awards or other grants. The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change reserve the right to stop all activity for the Challenge and/or to make substantive changes to the Challenge or these RULES, which might preclude certain Users from participating further. By submitting an Application or information pursuant to this Challenge, each Applicant shall be deemed to have acknowledged that the Challenge Sponsor shall have no obligation to make any grant and neither Lever for Change and the Challenge Sponsor shall not have any liability to any Applicant or other person or entity should the determination be made not to proceed with this process or not to make any grants. It is further understood that any grant that may be considered pursuant to this process must satisfy the Challenge Sponsor’s legal criteria in the sole discretion of the Challenge Sponsor.

12.  Treatment and Use of Intellectual Property

Each Application should reflect the anticipated ownership, use, and licensing of any intellectual property included in the Application. You represent and warrant that the Application is an original work created solely by the Lead Organization or its collaborators, and that the Lead Organization owns all Intellectual Property, as defined herein, in and to the Application, and that no other party has any right, title, claim or interest in the Intellectual Property or Application, except as expressly identified by You to us in writing in Your Application. Intellectual Property means copyrights, topography rights, software rights, database rights, design rights, patents, utility models, trademarks, service marks, domain names and trade secrets. The Lead Organization retains all right, title and interest in any inventions, software or work of authorship  it invents or creates. The ownership and use of Intellectual Property in the Application remains with the Lead Organization.  All applications and the contents thereof shall remain with the Applicant subject to a perpetual, transferrable, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license in all media and languages  to the Challenge Sponsor and Lever for Change to use the Application and Intellectual Property as described below. 


Without limitation of the foregoing, each Application, and all content and Intellectual Property therein may be shared with third-parties engaged to assist the Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change with the selection process for the Award, including with fellow Applicants, Judges, experts retained by the Challenge Sponsor to assist selected Applicants, affiliates of the Challenge Sponsor, technical assistance providers and other employees, directors and agents of the Challenge Sponsor necessary for the administration of the Challenge. The Challenge Sponsor and/or Lever for Change may also use such information in connection with outside studies or research, or with respect to other charitable purposes. You also acknowledge and agree that the Application and its contents (including the project abstract, the description of the project design and methodology) may be posted for viewing by the general public, including in a database maintained by Lever for Change known as the Bold Solutions Network, or other databases that will be available to other potential donors and third parties. As a condition of applying, You hereby grant the Challenge Sponsor and Lever for Change a transferable, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, adapt, modify, publish, distribute, publicly perform, create a derivative work from, and publicly display contents of the Application and the Application Content, including, without limitation, entrant’s names, biographical information, demos, screenshots, portraits, pictures, videos, voices, likenesses, images, statements and other information for the purposes described herein. Should an Applicant’s project be funded, the Challenge Sponsor and or Lever for Change reserve the right to post for viewing by the general public the information about the grant, including the size of the grant award. Applications will not be returned to Applicants. Each Applicant should retain a copy of its Application.

Where a license in perpetuity is not permitted by law or is unenforceable in Your jurisdiction, You grant the license(s) described above for the maximum duration permitted by law.In jurisdictions where a royalty (payment) must be agreed in respect of the license(s) described above, You agree that the royalty shall be zero (or the minimum amount permitted by applicable law). You agree and acknowledge that the opportunity to participate in the Challenge and the payment of any sum(s) to You should you be awarded a Grant fully satisfies any obligation on Lever for Change and/or the Challenge Sponsor to provide equitable and adequate remuneration for the rights granted hereunder.

To the extent permitted by law, You irrevocably agree that if Your Application is funded, Lever for Change, the Challenge Sponsor and their respective licensees shall be entitled to use Your name, likeness and biographical information for all advertising, marketing, publicity and public relations purposes in connection with the Challenge without additional remuneration. The Applicant hereby waives any right to any form of compensation and all legal claims, including for libel, slander, invasion of privacy, and copyright infringement, related to the Application’s content and its use.

 13. Privacy Policy

The following personal information will be collected by Challenge Sponsor and  Lever for Change in this Challenge for the purposes of administering the Challenge and creating a "secondary market" of proposals, which allows donors to review and finance projects that may not have been funded by the Challenge Sponsor: a contact name, phone number, and email address for the Application, as well as pertinent educational, employment, and biographical  information of relevant members of the Lead Organization. Should an Applicant be a Finalist in the Challenge, more personal information may collected in the future.

Applicant contact information will be kept by Challenge Sponsor and Lever for Change for no longer than necessary to fulfill the above stated purpose. Applicant personal information may also be transferred to countries outside of their jurisdiction of residence, including the United States. Such other countries may not have privacy laws and regulations that provide the same level of protection to those that exist in Your jurisdiction of residence. By providing personal information in connection with the Challenge, Applicants hereby expressly consent to such transfers of their personal information to the United States or other countries. Applicants have the right to review, rectify or delete any personal data held by Lever for Change or Challenge Sponsor by contacting Lever for Change at Applicants also have the right to lodge questions or complaints with a supervisory authority at any time. Lever for Change's Privacy Policy can be reviewed at: 

Lever for Change agrees to ensure that the collection of all personal information complies with all applicable laws. Where required by Applicable Laws, Lever for Change will deploy appropriate notices and functionality to obtain authorizations and consents as required.

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