Skoll Foundation



Getting Beyond Better: Author Q&A with Sally Osberg and Roger Martin

October 6, 2015 by

Q & A with Sally Osberg & Roger Martin, co-authors of Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.

Getting Beyond Better hits stores today! Jeff Kehoe, Senior Editor at Harvard Business Review Press, spoke with Sally and Roger about the book during the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Q: Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen says that every product has a job to do. If we think of your book as a kind of product, what’s the job that it’s doing?

SALLY: We write about the job we needed to do at the Skoll Foundation, after our first couple years of channeling Jeff Skoll’s vision—and, really, DNA—around that special kind of entrepreneur who brings a disruptive impact to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

We needed a definition and to apply some criteria so we could choose among the hundreds of wonderful proposals that came our way. With the help of Roger Martin—one of our wonderful board directors and a genius when it comes to strategy, who was no way going to let us [think] in a non-rigorous way about this—we actually started to clarify what social entrepreneurship is.

We came to the realization that it’s about equilibrium change. Social entrepreneurs attack systems and equilibria in society that are stuck, held in place by a set of forces, and that desperately need to change. These equilibria lead to the marginalization, suffering, or a large-scale disadvantage of some segment or element of society.

Once we got that clarity, we could really look at the social entrepreneurs. We could start to understand those who were trying to do good in the world, and those who were on an order-of-magnitude journey to make that impact in the world. That’s where the definition [and framework] arose.

ROGER: Part of the book’s job is to provide would-be social entrepreneurs some ideas for how they can create equilibrium change. We share the mechanisms and models that we’ve seen out there that work, because now we have the real benefit of working with 91 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship-winning organizations and over 100 social entrepreneurs.

Also, we’d love to see more funders enter the field and support it. It becomes easier for funders to say: ‘I will support this thing called social entrepreneurship’ if they can understand what it is, identify social entrepreneurs, and have a sense of what models work.

Q: The original articulation of your book was in a 2007 article you coauthored in the Stanford Social Innovation Review: Social Entrepreneurship: the Case for Definition. How has your thinking evolved since that very impactful piece?

ROGER: We’ve been working and learning along the way. In the 2007 article we established the notion that it’s about creating the equilibrium change, and said, it’s great if they can. What’s evolved is we’ve tried to look at what mechanisms they use to drive change, and we made this distinction between social entrepreneurship and social advocacy.

Now we have a view that those two things are often complements of one another. Equilibrium change can be driven by a social entrepreneur who creates a product or service that starts a transformation. If there are great advocates for it, they can bring more resources—like the government—to drive it faster.

The cost structure of what they do is also important. You have to create a model that has decreasing costs with scale. If your costs are the same as you do more of it, it’s very expensive. It’s great if you can create a cool platform, like Kiva, where you spend up front to create the platform, but then as more and more people use it, costs per user fall.

SALLY: We’re no longer quite fighting the battle for social entrepreneurs as “entrepreneurs”—which we tried to do in the original article, to really anchor social entrepreneurship in entrepreneurship.

Now, we can move on. The real challenge is summoning the body of evidence to tell us what social entrepreneurship is getting done in the world.

It can provide real lessons and impetus for policy and business to track this wave, and make the better world we all know is possible.

ROGER: Our 2007 article helped spur conversation and debate, so I think we have a much better idea how social entrepreneurship works, but my suspicion is that people who love social entrepreneurship and want to drive it will cause us to learn some more.

So, we’re having fun watching and learning as much as we can, as fast as we can. But we don’t know everything, that’s for sure….

Q: You have said you want to keep social entrepreneurs optimistic. Can you explain?

SALLY: Tough-minded optimism [is] how I believe social entrepreneurs go about optimism. They see the opportunity and they ask themselves, “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

They pull up their socks, they get to work, but they keep in their sights this vision for what can be made not just better, but can be transformed—and that’s what they work towards.

Now that’s optimism on steroids, but it has the rigor, determination, and the discipline underneath it, that, to me, is so quintessentially socially entrepreneurial.

ROGER: The great social entrepreneurs already implicitly say, “I’m not just going to make it better, I’m going to fix it.” Our hope in categorizing an equilibrium change and explaining what it is, is to describe what “fix” looks like and why it’s so important, so that more folks who would say “I don’t like the current situation,” will say “Ah, the goal I should have is ‘I should fix it, I will change that equilibrium.'”

Part of the job of the book is to help make it easier for people to conceptualize what a real fix would look like, so they can keep their optimism high and their aspirations high.


Sally Osberg and Jessica Jackley on Social Entrepreneurship, Kiva and More

August 25, 2015 by

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg recently sat down with Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva. Their thoughtful and impactful discussion at the Commonwealth Club of California focused on Jessica’s new book, Clay Water Brick: Finding Inspiration from Entrepreneurs who do the Most with the Least. 

Topics included Jessica’s time in the field while at Kiva and what she learned from the entrepreneurs she met, the trend of savings, the story behind the title of her book (hint: it’s about an entrepreneur), the importance of providing for families, microfinance, crowdfunding, how Jessica decided to include her personal life in the book, managing risk based on a bad experience, and making decisions with the “head and heart.” Jessica says she is now consulting with companies on how to support working mothers, is on the board of nonprofits and has another project in the works she can’t share yet.  “I want to get back to alleviating poverty,” she says.

A short excerpt:

Sally: Kiva is approaching $1 billion and in sharing many metrics about borrowers, lenders and reporting repayment rates consistently on its web site, that doesn’t tell the story of Kiva’s impact. How are you going about the challenge of seeing whether Kiva’s loans actually alleviate poverty?

Jessica: Kiva does a great job of providing a window of how the field partners actually work. There are a handful of markers of social impact and the organizations explain what that looks like to them, such as training, prioritization of women…Change happens in ways we can measure quantitatively. Not just repayment rates. I get excited about the touchy-feely story stuff; I love seeing the stories speak for themselves.  I have met people whose businesses failed after getting the loans but their lives are still changed for the better and they are grateful for that opportunity…Maybe they are now much better equipped to take a bigger swing at things and get it right…I’ve seen changes in their confidence because of going through the training and the program that goes along with a loan…It’s in the mission that poverty alleviation …but I also think about the impact in the lives of lenders. To participate and believe great things are possible is a good thing for the world…


Sending our admiration and wishes to President Carter

August 20, 2015 by

Our thoughts are with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who today begins treatment for melanoma. The extended Skoll community has so enjoyed its meaningful collaboration with President Carter through the Skoll Foundation, Participant Media, and The Elders.  We wish him a hasty and complete recovery.

Here’s sending our abiding admiration—along with strength and love—to President Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and his family.

Video from The Guardian.


5 Ways Social Entrepreneurs Can Make Their Content Go Viral—from an editor at Upworthy

August 17, 2015 by

Adam Mordecai is editor-at-large at Upworthy. When he’s not trying to get millions of page views (300 million to date) on issues like racial justice, climate change and economic inequality, he focuses on training new curators and advises nonprofits on how to tell great stories.

He recently shared some of his best tips for going viral to an audience full of social entrepreneurs at the Skoll World Forum, and today we’re sharing them with you. But first things first: “Going viral is partly science, partly luck and partly hard work,” Mordecai says. “There is no recipe guaranteed for success every time.”

Take heart. “There is data and science behind virality.”

Five of our key takeaways from Adam:

  • Facebook is the driver of the Internet, and that’s where we put all our focus. Facebook wants strong stories, clear headlines, timely stories, authentic voice, and added context. (See above video around 26:12 for details and examples)
  • Tell really good stories. Give people a reason to go to that page. Stories that build empathy are the ones that are needed to make a better world. If you give people all the information they want but they don’t feel connected to it, it’s going to be much harder for them to retain the information.
  • Ask these three questions when you are making a piece of content: 1. Is the content substantive, engaging and maybe even entertaining? 2. If a million people saw it, would the world be a better place? 3. Does the content deliver on the headline?
  • Headlines matter. Framing your content matters. Upworthy did an experiment (which you can see completely at 20:00) and in it, there were two headlines. One was “Two monkeys got peed on and see what happens next” and the other was “Remember Planet of the Apes? It’s closer to reality than you might think.” They were published separately on the same video. The first headline got 700 times the views.
  • You’re not always going to win. Some of your failures will be your best learning experiences, ever.

Boston Globe Gives Big Kudos to Ceres

August 6, 2015 by

Today’s Boston Globe op-ed, “Obama leaves coal with nowhere to go,” credits Skoll Awardee Ceres:

President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is remarkable, and not just because it gives the United States some global credibility on climate change. The real brilliance is that the proposal — which would cut carbon emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels over the next 10 years — backs the opposition into a corner with no credibility….

….huge swaths of other industries that once might have been right there with the US Chamber of Commerce and coal companies in fighting new regulations are now competing to have the greenest image. That’s partly because of behind-the-scenes work by Boston-based Ceres. The nonprofit has worked for a quarter-century to convince big businesses to adopt sustainability as a guiding principle. Ceres greeted Obama’s plan with a letter of support signed by 365 companies, including Unilever, Nestle, General Mills, and Staples. Companies such as UPS, Cisco Systems, PepsiCo, United Continental, and General Motors now boast tens of millions of dollars of savings just by meeting their own energy targets.”

Read the rest:




5 Skoll Community Interviews on The Daily Show

August 6, 2015 by

Today is Jon Stewart‘s last day on his popular The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, so we thought it fitting to share clips from his past interviews with luminaries in the Skoll Foundation community.

Malala Yousafzai, recipient of the 2014 Skoll Global Treasure Award:


President Jimmy Carter, who spoke at the 2008 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship and is one of The Elders (Skoll Foundation Founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Sally Osberg are members of The Elders Advisory Council):


Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim shares the history of her film “The Square.”  In the extended web-only segment, she talks about censorship, and discusses why “it’s a really dark time now” in Egypt.


Arianna Huffington, who wrote the foreword to our CEO Sally Osberg and board member Roger Martin’s upcoming book and spoke at the 2012 Skoll World Forum closing plenary:


President Mohamed Nasheed, who spoke at the 2012 Skoll World Forum closing plenary:


Sally Osberg to Accept NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 Award

July 31, 2015 by

We’re pleased to announce that our President and CEO Sally Osberg was honored with the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 award.  She will receive the award Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C.

As the NonProfit Times says, “Sally is a systems visionary…she understands the past, can envision a future and put it together.”

Sally, who co-authored the upcoming book, Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, has been an agent for social change throughout her career. As our President and CEO, she partners with Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and heads the Skoll Foundation’s team in identifying and supporting innovators pioneering scalable solutions to global challenges. She is a well-known proponent of thought leadership, research, and alliances that advance the work of social entrepreneurs solving the world’s most pressing problems. She founded the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, the largest gathering of innovators around the world.

Other winners of the NonProfit Times award include Bill Gates, co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen, Darren Walker, President and CEO of the Ford Foundation, Diana Aviv, President and CEO of Independent Sector, Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of the Knight Foundation, and many more luminaries.

See the full list of winners here.


Prioritize, Capitalize, Right Size and More: 5 Insights from the Skoll Foundation on Monitoring and Evaluation

July 28, 2015 by

Ehren Reed, the Skoll Foundation’s Director of Evaluation, was recently asked what matters when he is looking at the measurements social entrepreneurial organizations use.

“Organizations have the power to achieve the change donors are looking to make,” he says. Here are some of his “izes,” as he calls them:

  1. Contextualize. It’s helpful when I can see clearly how the work is contextualized within an organization’s efforts. Whether it’s Kevin Starr’s 8- Word Mission Statement or a theory of change, there needs to be clear description of their goals, and the actions they are doing to lead to that. I want to know how those metrics you’re sharing connect with that core strategy.
  2. Prioritize. There are a ton of things that you could be measuring. The fact that you have gone through an exercise to winnow it down to meaningful measures is a good sign. Those measures should be influenced by what you are able to do with that information. If you are collecting something you are not making use of, you are wasting time and money.
  3. Capitalize. Don’t answer a question that you need not answer. There are certain outcomes and indicators that are critical to your work, and more attributable to your efforts. Concentrate on those. There are others that you can say, ‘We made a contribution to those.’ Leave those alone. For example: Citizen Schools increases graduation rates of students who attend their program by 20 percent over a control; that’s the compelling story. I don’t need to know whether that leads to greater income generation after high school graduation; there are studies that already show me that. Be efficient with the way you are spending your dollars.
  4. Right Size. Not everyone in the organization needs to look at all the same data. At One Acre Fund, workers in the field pay attention to which farmers are attending trainings, what types of uptake are they having with particular techniques they are being taught, and types of repayment rates. That’s the type of information they need to know to see if they are doing their job effectively. Middle managers look at aggregated data. Leadership looks at only a key set of performance indicators. So right size your approach accordingly.
  5. Systematize. The idea that we see M and E as a separate report gives me pause; it’s a dangerous misnomer. It needs to be part and parcel of your programmatic activity. If it’s all focused on a report which comes out once a year, and there is not a lot behind the scenes leading up to that report, that gives me pause. An example: Your car dashboard metrics allow you to know if your car is functioning effectively. You look at the dashboard every day. It’s only when you get to the selling of the car that you say, ‘It gets a lot of miles per gallon,’ or ‘It’s been in two minor accidents.’

Hear more from Ehren:


A Successful Social Entrepreneur Shares 3 Top Ways to Run an Organization

July 23, 2015 by

Sebastien Marot of Friends-International was recently asked, “What are the three most important things for you to successfully run your organization?” Here are his answers.

  • A strong vision/mission: Keeping the best interest of the child at the center of our work, high demands on quality, promoting a developmental approach (not charity), with creativity (knowing new development models are needed and the needs for system change) and pure stubbornness.
  • Building a strong and well organized organization: Building teams, with strong delegation and trust, leading to keeping our work local, yet within a global view.
  • Together: Together with the children/youth, parents, teams, partner NGOs, donors, and Government.

Read the rest of the interview:


What 5 Experts Think of the Millennium Development Goals

July 14, 2015 by

The United Nations just released its 2015 Millennium Development Goals report, so we thought it was a good time to share the thoughts of five experts who joined the United Nations’ Tomas Anker Christensen in discussing the MDGs—and measuring development efforts in general—at the recent Skoll World Forum. Launched by world leaders and the UN in 2000, the MDGs gave eight measurable goals to alleviate poverty and improve lives by the end of 2015.

Listen to the conversation, above, moderated by Pamela Hartigan of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepeneurship. Panelists included Michael Green of the Social Progress Imperative, Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, Bunker Roy of Barefoot College, Dorothy Stoneman of YouthBuild USA, and Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University.

We know not everyone has time to watch a one-hour session, so here are some highlights from each:

  • “Metrics makers are not connected to the very poor people who live on less than a dollar a day,” Roy said. “These are the people Mahatma Gandhi called the very last man and woman. With due respect, these goals are a joke, because they don’t relate to the lifestyle and reality of rural communities living around the world who are living a hand-to-mouth survival existence.”
  • “Focus more money on the best targets and just spend the money there…that’s like quadrupling global aid,” Lomborg said, referring to the number of targets or goals. “If we ask governments to do fewer things that are harder to screw up, they will more likely have done a lot of good in 2030.”
  • “Ultimately, this is about…holding leaders to account by citizens and making these things part of the political debate….what the MDGs did have was an underlying concept: extreme poverty,” Green said, after his earlier remarks on his Social Progress Index and examples of how it’s worked. “So whatever you spoke about related to the MDGs, everyone kind of knew what it was…It needs to be an underlying concept for these ‘people’s goals’  communicated in a simple form so that it becomes part of the political debate so a politician can say, ‘Vote for me because GDP went up and we made progress on this’ …and it’s not about 17 goals.”
  • “When we began to measure, we decided to ask the nonprofits we work with, what should we measure?” Stoneman said. “So they set the objectives and we have measured them for 25 years: How many people apply? How many people come every day? We measure academic gains, academic achievement, industry-recognized credentials, completion of the total program, placement in jobs or post-secondary education or retention of jobs and post-secondary education, and recidivism for those who have had previous problems with the law…we encourage the government to hold people accountable for outcomes but when they do it too rigidly, it creates a negative effect….”
  • “There is a lot of positive that came out of the MDGs around poverty, infant mortality and maternal care; that gives me hope that if goals are stated properly, we can in fact achieve them,” Awuah said.

Read more:



Doing the Unexpected: How One Social Entrepreneur Changed Paths

June 30, 2015 by

Jenny Bowen thought her work was almost done. After 17 years of running Half the Sky, she had helped transform China’s child welfare institutions, and she could “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We have lots of work left to do, but I can see where it’s going. So done, right? Mission accomplished.”

Or so she thought.

But then, she stepped back to reflect on her life while writing her memoir “Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains,” and “now I am writing  a whole different story…you just end up going from one to another.”

Thus is the life of a social entrepreneur, who “disrupt a status quo they see as sub-optimal,” according to Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg.

Jenny’s new endeavor is called OneSky. Jenny shared a little about it at the Skoll World Forum this year: read more


Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship Publishes GSBI Methodology White Paper

June 25, 2015 by

The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) Shares Insights Based on 12 Years of Accelerating Over 360 Successful Enterprises

Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship has released a white paper aimed at helping social-entrepreneurship accelerators and incubators succeed. The paper, “The GSBI(R) Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship,” is available at

The white paper encapsulates lessons from 12 years of working with over 365 businesses that are tackling social problems around the world through the Miller Center’s Global Social Benefit Institute, or GSBI. The GSBI is internationally recognized for helping social entrepreneurs become investment-ready and prepared to “scale” — or reach exponentially more beneficiaries. GSBI’s well-honed methodology serves as a best-practices framework for incubating and accelerating these global social enterprises.

The Miller Center is offering this free white paper in response to the rapid rise of accelerators and incubators focused on helping social entrepreneurs scale their solutions to the world’s critical problems affecting the poor and the planet. It identifies key strategies so others can benefit from its successes and failures.

The paper describes three key success factors for a successful accelerator: social enterprise selection, stage-specific programs for social enterprises, and deep executive-level mentoring. It also shares mistakes to avoid, such as being unprepared for the due diligence process that potential funders require.

“Founded in 2003, the GSBI has led and changed the way accelerators help social entrepreneurs,” said Sally Osberg, CEO and President of the Skoll Foundation. “The social entrepreneurship movement is booming and there’s no need for newcomers to reinvent the wheel. This paper helps everyone in our ecosystem accomplish our shared goal of using innovation and sound business practices to solve problems that are keeping three billion people from living their full potential.”

The GSBI invites applications from businesses or organizations that are “impact first,” when true to the name, the intention is to create good environmental or social outcomes as a forethought, not an afterthought. Based on where the enterprises are in their lifecycles, they are matched to the appropriate programs within the GSBI — a “Boost” program consisting of three days of intensive, on-location training; a six-month online-only program for early-stage, developing ventures; or the 10-month GSBI Accelerator, which combines online and in-person mentoring for ventures on the cusp of robust growth.

“We have applied this stage-appropriate methodology in over 60 countries,” said Pamela Roussos, senior director of GSBI. “What sets us apart is our 80+ Silicon Valley executive mentors who accompany the social entrepreneurs on their journey through weekly meetings for entire duration of their program. More than 85% of our last cohort received funding. Our methodology contributes to this success record and we would like others to benefit from it.”


Photo credit goes to Victoria Yundt, a Santa Clara University student who visited the social enterprise Solar Sister in 2013.


The Stigma of Mental Illness in Pakistan: BasicNeeds on PBS NewsHour

June 22, 2015 by

Up to 40 percent of the population in Pakistan could have mental health issues, yet getting help isn’t easy. The stigma against mental illness is prevalent, and even for those who do want to get help, psychiatrists are in short supply. As part of the PBS NewsHour “Agents For Change” series, special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro looks at the efforts being made by BasicNeeds to change this situation.


Jeff Skoll Honored by Jefferson Awards Foundation

June 19, 2015 by

Last night The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, honored America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C.

Skoll Foundation founder and chairman Jeff Skoll was presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Other honorees included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Kid President team (Brad Montague and Robby Novak), Lauren Bush Lauren, and Laysha Ward. Learn more about the Jefferson Awards winners here.

Jeff closed out the ceremony by reflecting on the threads that ran throughout the evening, “themes of courage, of overcoming, of doing, of family and unsung heroes.” He reflected on a realization he had as a young man: “It seemed to me that the world of the future might not be as a pleasant a place for our kids… with new diseases and wars and more coming down the pike.”

And he shared three lessons he’s learned:

Lesson One: “There’s nothing like seeing how the rest of the world lives to make you realize how interconnected we all are. If anybody is suffering, if anybody is living in poverty, if anybody is sick, that affects our lives. And it’s in all of our best interests to make sure that everyone in society has the opportunity for a better life.”

Lesson Two: “Stories well told. Telling your story can advance your cause and it’s an important part of our common cause together.”

Lesson Three: “We’re all in this together. None of us can do it alone.” He concluded, “I’m so inspired by hearing your stories tonight and to be part of this. It’s an incredible organization that the Jefferson Awards has become.”

Click here for a full video of the ceremony. You can watch Jeff Skoll’s speech at the 1 hour 44 minute mark.


Blue Ventures Study Shows Marine Management Pays

June 17, 2015 by

Velvetine, a local fisher from a village on the coast of Madagascar, reports: “Before we started doing octopus closures, we were only catching two or three octopus in a day, and some days we wouldn’t catch any at all… With the closures we make a small sacrifice, but we can still glean on other reefs, and after waiting we catch more octopus; the catch is good in the days after openings. I have more money for food and for my family.”

As Velvetine knows, marine management pays. An eight-year study by marine scientists from Skoll Awardee Blue Ventures puts facts behind Velvetine’s experience. During that time, coastal villagers used Blue Ventures’ approach of setting aside designated areas of their fishing grounds as temporary “closures” to octopus fishing. When closed sites were reopened to fishing after the 2-3 months of the closure, rapid growth rates of reef octopus resulted in a surge of catches.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, shows that these temporary closures generate significant and recurring economic benefits for the communities. When comparing the 30 days before and after a temporary closure, the researchers found:

  • 85% increase in catch per fisher per day.
  • 81% return on investment. (On average, $1 worth of octopus left in the closure sites had grown to $1.81 by the end of the closure period.)
  • 136% increase in village income.

Fisheries scientist and study co-author Daniel Raberinary explained the impact of these findings. “By demonstrating that effective fisheries management can reap dividends, this model is playing a powerful role in building local support for marine conservation.”

A beautiful interactive webpage and infographic summarize the study’s key findings. The full paper, FAQs about the findings, and more can be found here.


New Educate Girls Case Study Documents Use of Measurement, Scale

June 8, 2015 by

Dasra, a strategic philanthropy foundation in India, wrote a case study on Educate Girls affirming of the importance of investing in measurement. Here’s more from Dasra’s Divya Pamnani and Arjav Chakravarti:

“Dasra worked closely with EG’s leadership to assist in the development and execution of its expansion strategy. The case study demonstrates how the organization harnessed the potential of impact assessment as a learning tool to improve program design and delivery, strengthen its model, and grow effectively.

Within a decade, EG has grown from working in 50 schools to over 8,500 schools. By replicating its program in other gender-gap districts of Rajasthan, EG  impacted the lives of nearly one million children. The effective use of measurement enabled EG to adapt quickly, better respond to beneficiaries, demonstrate continued impact, build partnerships with the government, and attract significant resources to scale.

An account of EG’s measurement journey, it offers valuable lessons for social organizations working across diverse sectors, at different stages of growth.”

Read it here:


“It’s All the Same Thing” – Mark Plotkin on Preserving the Amazon

June 4, 2015 by

“’Who cares about the Amazon? We have to worry about global warming and climate change.’ Well guess what, it’s all the same thing.”

In a beautiful new 2-minute film, ethnobotanist and Amazon Conservation Team co-founder Mark Plotkin explains the interconnectivity between many of today’s greatest global challenges and the Amazon rainforest.

“Whether you’re interested in changing climate, whether you’re interested in too many poor people, or whether you’re interested in drug resistant bacteria—which is a much greater threat to our species than climate change, deforestation, terrorism, nuclear weapons—you have an interest in the greatest expression of life on earth, which is the rainforest, which is home to most of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity.”

80% of our antibiotics come from nature, and the best antibiotics are waiting for us in today’s rainforests. It is, of course, crucial to protect those natural resources. The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) works in partnership with indigenous people of tropical America to conserve the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest as well as the culture and land of its indigenous people.

ACT partners with the Trio Indians to create programs in which elder shamans pass their botanical healing wisdom to the next generation of healers within the tribe. Mark’s goal is to fully document the entire spectrum of Trio knowledge of animals and plants.

In honor of Mark’s 60th birthday this month, ACT seeks to raise $60,000 to create the first ever Shaman’s Encyclopedia of the Amazon. “The lasting importance of achieving these goals is the creation of a template that other tribal peoples throughout the Amazon can adapt to their own needs and – in so doing – have a positive impact on saving oral shamanic wisdom in all of lowland South America.”

Learn more about this groundbreaking project and how you can help support it:


Nina Smith Wins Dwell on Design Award

June 3, 2015 by

GoodWeave honored with Nice Modernist Award for its campaign to end child labor 

Since its founding in 1995, GoodWeave has worked to eliminate child labor from the rug industry with current operations in India, Nepal and Afghanistan. These efforts were recognized Saturday with the receipt of the inaugural Dwell on Design “Nice Modernist Award” by GoodWeave’s founding Executive Director, Nina Smith. Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams presented the award on Saturday at the LA Convention Center in conjunction with the Dwell on Design Awards ceremony. The event included a special screening of the GoodWeave film short Stand with Sanju.

“We’re always inspired by the caliber of talent on view at Dwell on Design,” says Dwell Media President Michela O’Connor Abrams, which includes 2015 exhibitors and GoodWeave licensed brands Ariana and notNeutral. “We established the Dwell on Design Awards to celebrate not only the quality and innovation of this work, but also the humanitarian side. By awarding Dwell’s first Nice Modernist Award to Nina, we are honoring the impact GoodWeave has had in reducing child labor in the carpet industry by 75% from 1 million to 250,000, and it is my hope the awareness raised by this award helps GoodWeave achieve its goal of zero child laborers by 2020.”

Learn more:


Jefferson Awards Foundation Names Jeff Skoll a National Award Recipient

June 2, 2015 by

The National Service Awards Ceremony will be Held June 18 in Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, will honor America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C. Taking place in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 18, 2015, the organization will honor this year’s recipients for their exemplary achievements in service.

During the gala, which is sponsored by Target and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Jefferson Awards Foundation will present awards to the top schools in its Students In Action program as well as award more than 50 local Jefferson Awards winners who have made a difference in their individual communities nationwide.

“Our mission at the Jefferson Awards Foundation is to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement in public service. A testament to this mission, we are honored to recognize these amazing individuals and organizations for their incredible work in service,” said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of The Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We continue to believe in, and activate their causes and look forward to sharing impact on a national level through our ceremony.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official at the ceremony for her continued dedication and concern for fair process in the criminal justice system, calls for reform of the criminal justice system and dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity. Previous recipients of the award include: former Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Kid President team, consisting of Brad Montague and Robby Novak, will be awarded the award for Outstanding Service by an Individual 25 or Under. Through their work, Robby and Brad hope to foster creativity and compassion in young people while making the internet a more joyful place. Previous recipients of the 25 or Under award include 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip and Vision For and From Kids founder Lillian Pravda.

Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll will be presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in order to bring to life his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. He will join the ranks of previous recipients of this award including comedian Bob Hope, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and founder of Charles Best.

Lauren Bush Lauren will be presented with the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 or Under for co-founding FEED, a social business which donates a portion of each sale to feed children around the world, through giving partners such as the United Nations World Food Programme, UNICEF and Feeding America. This award has been given to politician Bobby Jindal and football player Peyton Manning in past years.

Laysha Ward, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Target, will be present to accept the award for Outstanding Service by a Major Corporation for Target. The Jefferson Awards Foundation continues to recognize Target for its commitment to integrate corporate citizenship into its daily operations, with direct responsibility for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, service and philanthropy and other key reputational strategies.

About the Jefferson Awards
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Through its programs, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organizations vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.orgor engage on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

read more


Marc Freedman in the WSJ: Six Ideas for Enriching Longer Lives

June 1, 2015 by

Marc Freedman of just penned “How to Make the Most of Longer Lives” in the Wall Street Journal. “As thousands of baby boomers each day surge into their 60s and 70s, it’s time to focus on enriching lives, not just lengthening them; on providing purpose and productivity, not just perpetuity,” he writes. He then goes into detail about six ways society can do this. My favorite? “Design schools for second half of life.”

“Nearly 50 years ago, we pioneered lifelong learning for seniors—a notable advance, but let’s face it: All too often these programs are great for mental stimulation but ill-suited to launching individuals into new life chapters,” Marc writes. “Catching up on the Renaissance masters or mapping your family’s genealogy can take you only so far.”

Read the rest:


© 2015 Skoll Foundation.