Seven 'Rowntree Visionaries' have won full-time salaries of up to £40,000 and £5,000 expenses for five years to fight injustice and galvanise reform.
The winners were chosen from 1,622 applicants, by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, and include a project to try to close Guantanamo Bay and all other similar detention camps, proposed by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
Another winner, former diplomat Carne Ross, will set up a company to help small, new or transitional states to counter the bias in favour of richer countries. Karen Chouhan, chief executive of the 1990 Trust, plans to overhaul the UK's race equality framework by letting black communities set the race agenda.
All those who applied for grants through the new Visionaries for a Just and Peaceful World scheme had to summarise their dreams in just 100 words, and prove they had a track record in achieving change.
Initially, only 50 people applied - this prompted the organisation to launch a widespread ad campaign.
Steve Pittam, secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, said: "We have all dreamed up ideas of how we could change the world. This has been an amazing opportunity to hear some of those ideas and help make the best a reality.
"The quality of the applications was very high, and the seven appointed visionaries are exceptional - not just because of their visions, but because of their track record of delivering change. We are expecting great things from them."