About the Challenge

2017 Challenge


In 2017, we are focused on Mitigating Climate Change by Expanding the Use of Compost.

Compost has long been used by some for improved soil productivity, increased water retention, and reduced sensitivity to drought. Research has shown that an application of compost to agricultural lands increases carbon sequestration in soil. Research also has shown that compost can be an effective waste management technique for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We see widespread use of compost as an important tool for recapturing carbon from the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and stabilizing the carbon cycle. For this reason, we seek ideas to significantly expand the use of compost in the United States.

Examples include (but are not limited to): compost operator training, infrastructure development, market development, organic waste material management practices, practice adoption, professionalization of compost science, public education and marketing, scientific research, and soil management practices.

For background purposes, we are including research on compost and carbon sequestration, waste management, and mitigation of climate change. These scientific papers were central to our decision to solicit ideas on expanding the use of compost.

View Scientific Papers

Launched in 2014, the Rathmann Challenge engages with those who have forward thinking ideas and are willing to challenge themselves and their professional colleagues to come up with a better solution. Providing opportunities for Even Bigger Ideas® is the primary objective of the Rathmann Challenge. We seek those possessing the creativity, entrepreneurial ethos, and innovative spirit to make a positive difference in the world through their directed passion, new ideas, and energy.

Rathmann Challenge applicants have a proven ability to implement a successful program. They also have an Even Bigger Idea® that, if given the opportunity, could benefit the world. The Rathmann Challenge recipient receives $100,000 for their past outstanding work and the exclusive invitation to apply for an Even Bigger Idea® grant of $200,000. Put them together and $300,000 could turn a vision into reality.

Offered biennially, the Rathmann Challenge rotates through various funding areas: Arts and Culture; Education; Environment; Health; Human Services; International Aid; Public Affairs; Technology; and Science.

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The Rathmann Challenge is a program of the Rathmann Innovation Center.