The UCLA Grand Challenge project to make Los Angeles completely self-sufficient and sustainable in energy and water by 2050 has been awarded $100,000 after winning the popular vote in a competition sponsored by the Goldhirsh Foundation through its LA2050 Grants Challenge.

“Thriving in a Hotter L.A.,” UCLA’s inaugural Grand Challenge project, launched last year, won the most votes in its category, Live. The top vote-getters in four other categories — Play, Connect, Create and Learn — were also awarded $100,000 each by the foundation. Five other proposed projects that were selected by a jury in each of these categories also won $100,000 each.

The Grand Challenge project unites six dozen UCLA faculty and staff from roughly 30 centers and nearly two dozen departments to create a plan for the Los Angeles region to use exclusively renewable energy and local water by 2050 while protecting biodiversity. Inspired by this goal, the public voted online for the project over a two-week period this month.

All together, the foundation awarded a total of $1 million to 10 projects from the 267 proposals submitted by nonprofits, institutions and private companies with the goal of improving the quality of life in the region and changing L.A. for the better by 2050. The Goldhirsh Foundation wanted to create a shared vision for the future of Los Angeles by, first, soliciting creative ideas to solve problems on issues such as transportation and homelessness, then tracking winners’ progress toward meeting their goals.

“We are thrilled to win this grant, and we are very grateful to the Goldhirsh Foundation and to all those who voted to make this possible,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research Michelle Popowitz, who is executive director of UCLA Grand Challenges. She led the effort to rally support for the project during the competition.

“These funds will galvanize UCLA’s efforts to create the roadmap for a 100% sustainable Los Angeles. We plan to invest the funds to help us meet critical objectives this year, which include creating a draft of the research plan, raising public awareness, engaging students and strengthening critical stakeholder partnerships,” said Popowitz.

Among the other winning projects were initiatives to transform unsafe and underutilized alleyways in South LA into walkable,bikeable green alleys and to launch a social enterprise to teach street taggers and graffiti artists how to become entrepreneurs.

Last year, the UCLA Hammer Museum, which submitted its proposal for “Arts ReSTORE LA: Westwood” to the same Goldhirsh Foundation competition, won a $100,000 grant from a field of 279 entries. The museum-led initiative, which took place last November, invited a select group of local artisans, craftspeople and performers to set up pop-up boutiques and venues in vacant retail stores in Westwood Village

View all of the winners at