Every year I look forward to the announcement of The MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program awards, the so-called “genius grants” that have been given to creative, make-a-difference individuals since 1981. The winners receive $500,000 over five years, with no strings attached on how the money is spent. Reading their profiles, and the media stories about them after they’ve won, is always enlightening. The 2008 fellows include a critical care physician, urban farmer, structural engineer, novelist, anthropologist, stage lighting designer and other professions. The entire list of winners, from 1981-2008, makes fascinating reading. But the foundation also makes awards to organizations, and on April 27 it announced the worldwide, nonprofit recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. This is the fourth year of the awards. According to the press release, “All are highly creative and effective organizations that have made a remarkable impact in their fields, driving significant change on a modest budget.” Related to the latter point, the release states, “Each organization will receive up to $650,000, a significant sum considering their annual budgets range from $200,000 to $4.5 million.” There are eight winners; three based in the United States, two in Russia, and one each in Nigeria, India and Trinidad. Each is described in separate pages on the MacArthur site. You can also read the Associated Press article on the awards.