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Investors push SEC to require stronger climate risk disclosure by fossil fuel companies

April 17, 2015 by
 
 

Just one day after BP adopted a shareholder resolution to support better carbon asset risk disclosures following disappointing global oil demand and low oil prices, 62 institutional investors representing nearly $2 trillion in assets called on the Securities and Exchange Commission to push for better disclosure by oil and gas companies of critical climate change-related business risks that will “profoundly affect the economics of the industry.”

In a detailed seven-page letter to the SEC, organized by the nonprofit sustainability advocacy group Ceres, investors noted that the current low price environment is effectively providing a stress test for the fossil fuel sector of the risks it is likely to face due to climate change, citing a number of material risks facing oil and gas companies – including expanding carbon-reducing regulations, growth of renewable energy and weakening oil demand – that are not sufficiently disclosed in their financial filings. These risks are commonly referred to as “carbon asset risks.”

Given these climate-related trends, investors are especially concerned about the industry’s excessive capital spending on high-cost, carbon intensive projects such as Arctic drilling, ultra deepwater drilling and Canadian oil sands projects. read more

 

Skoll Awards Ceremony 2015 Highlights

April 17, 2015 by
 
 
 

There is no better way to open an Awards Ceremony than with the Soweto Gospel Choir dancing down the aisles.

So began the 2015 Skoll Awards Ceremony.

Yesterday, Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg led the community on a journey, back 800 years, to the Magna Carta. This charter for personal liberties “stoked the early embers of freedom,” and the blaze caught around the world. As Sally said, “Then, as now, the driving force for change was the quintessentially human drive to set things right.” We saw this drive in each of the four 2015 Skoll Awardees.

Jagdeesh Rao Puppala demonstrated how the work of the Foundation for Ecological Security is about much more than simply helping people manage their forests, pastures, and water. Even skeptics within villages came to see the value of Commons—a farmer found that improved vegetation in the Commons led to better crop productivity in his own land; a widower’s daughter was able to use the fodder from the village pasture to feed the family bulls, freeing up hours of every day and allowing her to go back to school. “What we saw as a simple planting of trees was a larger story of how people connected economically, socially, and emotionally to the Commons,” he said.

Alasdair Harris introduced us to the “not-so-small-scale” fishers, the millions of people living along coasts who depend on fisheries for survival. With fish stocks collapsing and where people have no alternative to fishing, people are struggling to find enough to survive. Blue Ventures works with communities to show how taking less from the ocean can actually lead to more, catalyzing locals to protect their own seas. “When sustainable fisheries make real sense for this not-so-small-scale sector, we have a hope of putting conservation in the hands of those with the greatest interest in its success,” he told the crowd.

Safeena Husain shared the story of a Padma, a young woman whose life was transformed when, after escaping an abusive marriage as a girl, she returned to school and ultimately became one the most educated people in her village. Today, Padma works to get girls back to school.

“Padma is an Educate Girls Team Balika, a community volunteer who is shifting the equilibrium in favor of girls’ education,” she said. She is just one of the 4,600 Team Balika members throughout India, working to unlock the transformative power of girls’ education. These passionate catalysts enrolled 80,000 out-of-school girls last year alone, changing norms and convincing villages about the incredible merits of educating girls.

Ma Jun described how pollution in China has reached such a magnitude that it cannot be addressed without extensive public participation. The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs works to provide citizens with tools to put pressure on major polluters.

IPE’s innovative Blue Map app enables users to access and tweet the records of emitters. This “micro-reporting” has motivated hundreds of major coal and industrial power plants to respond—and the app has now topped 3 million downloads. With such engagement and momentum, Ma Jun looks to expand IPE’s operations and amplify its impact.

A short video about each awardee’s work played just before they went up to stage to receive their awards. Watch them here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHao2fgbzdxIdi0ahZXzOmsJN_5lfZBhv

The next recognition was for the Skoll Global Treasure Award. Jeff Skoll honored Graça Machel, “a hero to people all over the world, whose life story is a testament to the power of radical thinking.” Driven by the idea that all people have a right to dignity, Mrs. Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights.

In a conversation with Camfed founder Ann Cotton, Mrs. Machel explained how justice and human dignity are the threads in her life. Upon seeing the suffering of children in Mozambique and around the world, the protection of children came as a call to amplify their voices. “No one is voiceless. The difference is not everyone has a platform where their voice can be heard.” She told a story about an experience in Tanzania, where after a meeting on FGM and child marriage in the community, a group of girls presented her with a gift. “I’m worried about them, and they come and give me a gift. These children are not giving up, so who am I to give up?”

Graca Machel captured a sentiment that underlies so much of the Skoll World Forum. As Sally Osberg closed, she reminded us that the choices we make and refuse to make will keep us accountable for years to come—and that is what drives us to make the world better.

 

Skoll Foundation and UN Foundation Grants Fuel Partnerships between Social Entrepreneurs and UN Agencies

April 17, 2015 by
 
 

The Skoll Foundation and the United Nations Foundation today announced the winners of a unique set of grants—totaling US$1 Million—that will enable partnerships between social entrepreneurs and United Nations agencies, funds, and programs designed to drive impactful social innovations. This first-time grants application process encouraged Skoll Awardees to partner with UN agencies. This pairing combines the expertise of the world’s most successful social entrepreneurs with the multinational scale of UN agencies’ work.

The announcement of the Skoll Foundation / UN Foundation Scaling Social Innovation Grants was made at the Skoll World Forum, being held this week in Oxford. Three programs will receive grants that will enable the partners to scale up innovative programs to benefit people around the world:

Bringing Books to People with Print Disabilities – Benetech and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) will partner to use technology to bring written content to millions of visually impaired people in India. The partnership will support expanded production of books in accessible formats in local languages, and make accessible books available through the cloud-based Bookshare library and the International Book Exchange service of the WIPO-hosted Accessible Books Consortium (ABC).

Increasing Financial Inclusion and Social Protection for the Rural Poor – Fundación Capital will provide advisory services to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and government partners to implement models that enable the rural poor to build savings, increase incomes, and improve living standards. Fundación Capital has adapted and deployed these models with governments in 12 Latin American countries. Marking the first expansion of Fundación Capital’s work into Africa, this partnership will enable knowledge sharing between African, Latin American, and Caribbean governments.

Greening Procurement of Health Care Products—Health Care Without Harm, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the secretariat of the UN Interagency Task Team on Sustainable Procurement in the Health Sector, will collaborate to drive the procurement of sustainable health care products across the UN system, representing US$3.4 billion in annual health care purchasing. The grant will be used to develop tools to guide procurement of safer alternatives to hazardous chemical products in order to protect health care workers, patients, communities, and the environment.

Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, said, “Helping social entrepreneurs increase the reach of their transformative innovations is central to the Skoll Foundation’s approach to driving solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. The ability of social entrepreneurs to see opportunity where others see only challenges, combined with the global reach of UN agencies, has the potential to tip the scale toward a more just, peaceful, and prosperous world.”

“Innovation and partnership are key to solving today’s biggest global challenges,” said Kathy Calvin, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. “The United Nations is working with innovators around the world to drive progress and improve lives. By bringing together entrepreneurs and the UN, we can scale up innovative ideas for a better world.”

 

 

Skoll World Forum 2015 Opening: “Belief is Rooted in Lessons from Home”

April 16, 2015 by
 
 

The sun was shining yesterday in Oxford, as the 12th Skoll World Forum kicked off its three-day convening of 1,000 delegates eager to accelerate entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

On the agenda hosted by Stephan Chambers, who helped found the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship 10 years ago, was a conversation about belief.

They discussed belief’s ability to inspire change, and propel us forward. To help start the conversation speakers such as founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation Jeff Skoll and Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared their personal beliefs. One common theme was that belief is often rooted in the lessons that we learn from home—but it is for us to decide which ones we choose to carry forward.

Jeff was interviewed by Mabel Oranje of Girls Not Brides, and shared his belief that we are all interconnected—that there is a force greater than all of us. Jeff’s beliefs are based on the values instilled by his parents, and by past experiences—seeing the dire way that people live in other parts of the world; loving to read as a young boy and being inspired by the power of stories; and as an entrepreneur, believing that anything can be accomplished when people rally around shared values.

Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen, challenged us to think about other aspects of belief: What are the beliefs that make us more beautiful, and allow us to bring our best selves into the future; to bring our best selves to a world that is waiting for solutions?

Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared an infectious smile, commenting that when you come to believe that you count, you have a worth that is unquestionable. His daughter, Rev Mpho Tutu, shared that the faith she brings forward is one that she lives and experiences, not one that is written.

The Terrorist’s Son author Author Zak Ibrahim talked about being taught by his Muslim extremist father about the kinds of people he should associate with, and said that it was the isolation that was one of the most important ingredients to being indoctrinated. When he started to have more diverse interactions, it was those relationships that helped change his perspective.

Finally, Ophelia Dahl, president and executive director of Partners in Health and daughter of the writer Roald Dahl, grew up in a creative home, which inspired her with equal parts imagination and pragmatism. It is this perspective that gave her the inspiration and belief that she can change the world.

In the days to follow, the conversations around belief will continue to resonate throughout the halls of Oxford. What are the beliefs that inspire you?

 

Health Systems Worldwide Pledge Climate Action

April 16, 2015 by
 
 
 

Commit to reducing carbon footprint through 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge

(April 16, 2015) – Nine leading health care institutions from across the globe are pledging to take meaningful action on climate change, kicking off a worldwide campaign to mobilize hospitals and health systems to address one of humanity’s most pressing problems.

Their commitment signals the launch of the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge, a global initiative from Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network.  The 2020 Challenge invites health care systems and hospitals to reduce their carbon footprint and protect public health from climate change in the run-up to a worldwide meeting of heads of state at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change this December in Paris.

The 2020 Challenge also marks the first international effort ever to track emissions and take measurable actions to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.

“At a time when climate change is posing one of the greatest threats to public health, hospitals and health systems are stepping up to help the world kick its addiction to fossil fuels,” said Josh Karliner, Global Projects Director for Health Care Without Harm, and coordinator of its Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network. “This is a leadership moment for health care.”

The 2020 Challenge participants, health systems from Asia-Pacific, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States, have committed to substantially reduce their own carbon footprint, prepare to withstand extreme weather events, and to promote public policies to reduce greenhouse emissions.   Together they represent the interests of more than three hundred hospitals.  Hundreds more from around the world are expected to join the Challenge in coming months.

Initial participants in the 2020 Challenge include Counties Manukau Health (New Zealand), Gundersen Health System (USA), Hospital Albert Einstein and Hospital Sirio Libanes (Brazil), Kaiser Permanente (USA), NHS Sustainable Development Unit (England), Virginia Mason Health System (USA), Western Cape Government Health (South Africa), and Yonsei University Health System (South Korea).

Several of the initial participants, such as Kaiser Permanente, Yonsei University Health and the NHS have already committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent or more by the year 2020. All have also pledged to encourage public policy, economic development, and investment strategies that move their societies away from fossil fuel dependency and toward healthy energy alternatives.

“In every region of the world, health care can lead by example,” said Veronica Odriozola, Executive Director of Health Care Without Harm Latin America.  “Whether it is an off the grid clinic deploying solar power to run its operations and help electrify a community, or a large hospital reducing its own emissions to address respiratory disease from air pollution, we can all move toward low carbon health care.”

The 2020 Challenge is now open for hospitals and health systems from around the world to join. To participate, health systems endorse a Leadership Pledge (http://greenhospitals.net/sign-pledge/), agree to set carbon reduction targets and share data on their carbon emissions. Participants also agree to promote climate resiliency in their health systems, and work on a series of leadership activities. Global Green and Healthy Hospitals is organizing a series of events around the world to build momentum for the Challenge in the lead-up to the Paris Conference.

Follow the 2020 Health Care Climate Challenge on Twitter:

 

 

 

What the Press is Saying about the 2015 Skoll Awards

April 13, 2015 by
 
 
 

Earlier today, the Skoll Foundation announced the four new Skoll Awardees. Here is some of the day’s news coverage:

The Chronicle of Philanthropy interviewed winner Alasdair Harris, quoting him as saying, “Mr. Harris believes the attention and monetary support from the Skoll Foundation will help Blue Ventures achieve its goal of replicating its programs in other areas to reach 3 million people by 2020.”

The publication opened with: “Most people are taught at an early age that it’s wrong to cause a disruption. But the Skoll Foundation celebrates that kind of behavior. The four recipients of its 2015 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, announced today at the foundation’s annual world forum in Oxford, England, have one habit in common: They all disrupt the status quo.”

Trust.org‘s article, called “From saving oceans to empowering girls, Skoll Awards honor social entrepreneurs,” talked a little about each of the winners, then quoted Skoll Foundation Founder Jeff Skoll:

“Within every social entrepreneur is an unwavering belief that big, seemingly intractable problems offer unsurpassed opportunities,” said Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation.

“By instigating seismic change in our society where it is desperately needed — in the education of girls and the protection of resources like our air, oceans, and public lands — these four entrepreneurs are giving us good reason to believe in a radically better future.”

 

Skoll Foundation Announces 2015 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

April 12, 2015 by
 
 
 

OXFORD, April 13, 2015—At the 12th Annual Skoll World Forum this week, the Skoll Foundation today announced the four recipients of the 2015 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

The Skoll Awards distinguish transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised to make an even greater impact on the world.

“Social entrepreneurs dare to change the world,” said Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “Within every social entrepreneur is an unwavering belief that big, seemingly intractable problems offer unsurpassed opportunities. By instigating seismic change in our society where it is desperately needed—in the education of girls and the protection of resources like our air, oceans, and public lands—these four entrepreneurs are giving us good reason to believe in a radically better future.”

The Skoll Award recognizes social entrepreneurs whose innovations have already had significant, proven impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems, and invests directly in the promise of even greater impact at scale. By investing in organizations when an innovation is ripe for accelerated and scaled adoption, the Skoll Awards help unleash the full global potential and reach of social entrepreneurs. read more

 

GOVERNMENTS, BUSINESSES & NGOS URGED TO INVEST IN SOCIAL PROGRESS TO “UNLEASH ECONOMIC SUCCESS”

April 9, 2015 by
 
 
 

Inclusive growth must be focused on delivering economic + social progress

World earns “a failing grade” on progress say experts

Norway ranks top in this year’s Index, Canada is top of G7; Brazil is the top BRIC nation

The most effective way to improve people’s quality of life across the world, in both rich and poor countries, is to invest in social progress. This is according to the Social Progress Index 2015 published today by US-based nonprofit, the Social Progress Imperative, and released at the 2015 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The Index, ranked 133 countries based on their social and environmental performance and, including countries for which partial data was found, measured the social progress of 99% of the world’s population – using 52 separate indicators to arrive at a ranking for the issues that matter most to people.

The Index found that the world performs strongest in the areas of ‘nutrition’ and ‘basic medical care’ but weakest in ‘access to advanced education’ and ‘ecosystem sustainability’. The findings also show that many aspects of social progress improve with income. Wealthier countries, such as Norway – which achieves the top ranking this year – generally deliver better social outcomes than lower income countries.

But researchers say that GDP is far from being the sole determinant of social progress.

“Inclusive growth requires achieving both economic and social progress. A striking finding is that GDP is far from being the sole determinant of social progress. The pitfalls of focusing on GDP alone are evident in the findings of the 2015 Social Progress Index,” Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, who chairs the Index’s Advisory Board, said. “Countries must invest in social progress, not just economic institutions, to create the proper foundation for economic growth.”

Costa Rica (28th ranking) with a GDP per capita of $13,431 achieves a much higher level of social progress than both Italy and South Korea, which have more than twice Costa Rica’s GDP per capita ($34,167 and $32,708 respectively). On the other hand the US, with a GDP per capita of $51,340, scores relatively poorly across many of the components measured by the Index, including on ‘health and wellness’, finishing behind countries with a lower GDP per capita including Canada (6th) and the UK (11th).

Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, said: “This year’s Social Progress Index reported the world’s progress, rolling up the collective results from 133 countries. Sadly, as a whole, the world earned a failing grade, ranking in the bottom 40 percent of countries. Of particular concern is the world’s performance on ‘opportunity’, which very closely correlates to personal well-being. This is a wake-up call rich and poor countries alike should heed!”

Financial Support

The Social Progress Imperative is registered as a nonprofit organization in the US, and is grateful to the following organizations for their financial support: Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. (Deloitte Global), Fundación Avina, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.

Read more about the 2015 Index, and the rest of the press release: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org

 

 

Better Land Management in the Amazon? Here’s a New Tool

April 6, 2015 by
 
 
 

A new, computer-based environmental management system was launched last week by the Brazilian nonprofit organization Imazon. Here’s more about it, from Carol Skowron, a Mercy Corps senior program officer:

To Edilberto Poggi, the issue isn’t whether to stop the illegal deforestation of the Amazon and better manage the land resources—the need to do that is clear to him. The real question is how this can be done using the laws already on the books and the resources that are available to him and his colleagues.

Sitting in his office in Dom Eliseu, a municipality in the state of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon, the environmental manager of this small but vibrant town knew that the key was identifying where lumber was being harvested illegally while allowing legal landowners to manage their land within the law.

Poggi had hired a strong team to actively pursue land registration and licensing as required by law. By last August, he had more than 300 requests for environmental licenses for legal use of the land waiting for his team’s attention. Pointing to a mountain of papers, he noted that a large stack of verified information was required for each property, a paperwork nightmare making it impossible to move forward quickly. Poggi and municipal managers like him throughout the state needed a better way to make the system work to effectively manage the land, rather than leaving it open to indiscriminate logging.

Fortunately for Poggi and his colleagues, a new, computer-based environmental management system will greatly speed up the process. Known by the acronym SIGAM, it was launched last week by the Brazilian nonprofit organization Imazon.

Read the rest of Carol’s blog: https://www.globalenvision.org/2015/04/03/new-tool-better-land-management-brazilian-amazon

And learn more from the press release: http://imazon.org.br/imprensa/paragominas-inagurates-a-system-for-supporting-environmental-management/?lang=en

 

 

16 Speakers Give Sneak Peeks to the Skoll World Forum

April 5, 2015 by
 
 
 

The Skoll World Forum is coming up very soon (in fact, most of the Skoll Foundation staff is heading to Oxford this week!) so here are some highlights from 16 new articles inspired by sessions at the 2015 Forum:

Read the other 13 articles, and stay tuned for more being published this week: http://skollworldforum.org/debate/a-special-series-for-the-2015-skoll-world-forum-on-social-entrepreneurship/

 

 

New Video from Myanmar Shows How a $13 Pump Can Triple Farmers’ Incomes

March 27, 2015 by
 
 

Until two years ago, Myanmar (Burma) was very isolated with no access to what most farmers around the world had, such as credit, proper equipment and roads to get goods to market. In this Skoll Foundation visit to Myanmar, Proximity Designs co-founders Jim Taylor and Debbie Aung Din show how their organization has helped cause a 15 percent increase in rice yield. Before Proximity Designs, farmers spent up to eight hours a day carrying buckets of water to irrigate their fields. Now, with a low-cost pump operated by feet, they can water their crops in two hours, and make up to triple their previous income.

Watch and get a glimpse of the Proximity pumps in action; see farmers getting hands-on training, and finally, meet a farmer who can’t stop smiling as he shows off his new tractor. It’s a tractor he can afford because of Proximity’s products and services.

 

See Why Saving the Dead Sea is So Important in This CNN Segment Featuring Ecopeace Middle East

March 26, 2015 by
 
 

CNN Journalist Bill Weir travelled to the Middle East and shows us stunning images of the Dead Sea in this new “The Wonder List” segment, called “The Dead Sea is Dying.” He interviews EcoPeace Middle East co-founder Gidon Bromberg extensively.

“I went there thinking this might be a climate change story,” Weir said, “But it turns out it’s really a people story…and water management.”

In one part, Bromberg shows him an area where rehabilitation is taking place, and later tells him a nursery was built there to protect the wildlife. “This is by Middle East standards, a miracle,” Bromberg said, showing him a dam.

In other parts of the show, the loss of water is striking.

Watch the entire segment: http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2015/03/25/wonder-list-skype-dead-sea-orig.cnn

 

 

Week of the Hero Rats: Media Focuses on APOPO For World Tuberculosis Day

March 25, 2015 by
 
 
 

We have seen dozens of articles on APOPO‘s HeroRats, giant African pouched rats which can sniff out tuberculosis quickly and cheaply, thus saving countless lives.

Some tidbits from recent top stories:

Agence France-Presse: “Giant rats may strike fear and disgust into the hearts of homeowners worldwide, but researchers in impoverished Mozambique are improbably turning some of them into heroes. Placed inside a glass cage, a rat darts from sample to sample, then stops or rubs its legs, indicating that a sample is infected with a TB causing bacteria. Once the task is complete, it is given a treat through a syringe for a job well done.”

GOOD: “Rats are rewarded for every diagnosis made, which sounds like a pretty sweet gig considering their entire job consists of smelling things. Sign me up! APOPO, the non-profit organization supervizing the research, also has a separate program to train rats to detect mines.”

And in Fast Company Co.Exist, the journalist focused on the rats’ other main task: Sniffing out land mines.

Danielle Lee has a message for the world: rats are smarter than you think. One day, they may even save you from being blown up. Lee, a biologist and postdoc at Cornell, studies the natural history and behavior of African giant pouched rats, a type of large rodent native to sub-Saharan Africa that can sniff out bombs. Lee is currently working with APOPO, a nonprofit in Tanzania that trains the African giant pouched rat to sniff out landmines. Since its launch in 2000, APOPO has used the rats to find 2,400 landmines in neighboring Mozambique.”

Learn more: http://www.skollfoundation.org/entrepreneur/bart-weetjens/

 

 

Why Health Leads is Ahead of the Times

March 23, 2015 by
 
 
 

A New York Times article about the growing trend of health care systems cutting costs by aiding the poor illustrates why Health Leads, which was founded in 1996, was on the cutting edge of solving an important problem.

An excerpt:

They raise a new question for the health care system: What is its role in tackling problems of poverty? And will addressing those problems save money?

…In Portland, Ore., health outreach workers help patients get driver’s licenses and give them essentials, such as bus tickets, blankets, calendars and adult diapers. In New York, medical teams are trained to handle eviction notices like medical emergenciesIn Philadelphia, community health workers shop for groceries with diabetic patients.

….“We often hear comments that amount to ‘Are you asking me to fight the war on poverty?’ ” said Kelly W. Hall, a senior vice president at Health Leads, a nonprofit organization that helps medical teams connect patients to social services. “But doing nothing is ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ when it comes to the realities of patients’ lives. People aren’t comfortable with that either.”

Read the rest: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/23/health/taming-health-costs-by-keeping-high-maintenance-patients-out-of-the-hospital.html

 

WITNESS’ Human Rights Channel Named Finalist In 2015 Shorty Awards

March 18, 2015 by
 
 
 

Good news from the WITNESS blog:

We’re excited to announce that today our Human Rights Channel was named one of only two finalists in the 7th Annual Shorty Awards for the ‘Best in News’ category.

WITNESS launched the Human Rights Channel in 2012 in partnership with Google and Storyful. The HRC works to verify citizen video so that viewers can trust what they are seeing is real; analyzes the challenges thatshorty_logo_150x150 citizens face when trying to use their videos to catalyze real change; and supports citizen witnesses to use video more safely and effectively when filming for human rights.

Winners will be announced starting Monday, March 23rd via SnapChat.

Check out the full list of finalists and read more about Shorty Awards here. And follow us @witnessorg for updates!

 

Root Capital Proves “Rural Collectives Make Safe and Profitable Borrowers”

March 13, 2015 by
 
 
 

The Economist just did a great feature on Root Capital and its model (with a fun quote from founder Willy Foote!) An excerpt:

“Root’s business is lending to the owners of small farms in poor countries. An estimated 450m of these smallholdings exist worldwide, typically providing a subsistence-at-best income for more than 2 billion of the poorest people on the planet. Mainstream finance has largely ignored them. They face multiple hardships, including land of poor quality, a lack of infrastructure to get their output to market and the constant threat of being wiped out by extreme weather. The lack of access to credit for working capital and investment makes a bad situation worse.

Microcredit outfits dealing in tiny loans of tens or hundreds of dollars have proved that the poorest of the poor can be perfectly responsible borrowers. Root and a few other specialist lenders are showing the same is true of bigger loans to groups of subsistence farmers.”

Read the rest: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21646267-non-profit-proves-rural-collectives-make-safe-and-profitable

 

Food and Furniture: How Health Leads Helped One Woman with Basic Needs (an NPR Story)

March 12, 2015 by
 
 
 

A diabetic grandmother raising three asthmatic children with her daughter in Washington, D.C. needed some help. Today’s NPR story, called “When Life Overwhelms, This Group Lends a Healthy Hand,” shows how a volunteer for Health Leads helped get her free groceries and furniture, and is working on getting the mold removed from her home.

Health Leads bridges the gap between medicine and social work, equipping clinics with volunteers and family help desks, so that primary care doctors can prescribe not only medicines, but also services such as food, fuel, and housing assistance, and patients can get help to support their healing and long term health.

Removing the mold will help improve the children’s asthma. An excerpt:

Health Leads operates in seven cities across the U.S. and has more than a thousand volunteer advocates, the vast majority of whom are college students. It was founded byRebecca Onie. Now the organization’s CEO (and recipientof a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2009) Onie came up with the idea as a college sophomore in the 1990s. While volunteering at a hospital in Boston, she often asked doctors this question: If you had unlimited resources, what’s the one thing you would give your patients? The answer that came back over and over again, she says, was food, transportation, or a better place to live, because those were the real problems — and the underlying cause of many patients’ health problems. This led Onie to imagine an entirely different kind of health care system — ‘one in which a physician or nurse could prescribe basic resources that a patient needs to be healthy, like heat in the winter or access to healthy food,’ she says. And that’s exactly what Health Leads does it. It trains doctors to ask patients about their social needs, and then connects patients with organizations that can meet those needs.”

Listen for more: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/03/12/391872813/when-life-overwhelms-this-group-lends-a-healthy-hand

 

“Stand with Sanju” is a Top 5 Winner in the GlobalGiving Video Contest

March 9, 2015 by
 
 

In the fall, we told you about “Stand with Sanju,” a three-minute video which depicts the real journey of Sanju, a girl who went from being a carpet-factory slave to the first person in her family to attend school. Part of the Sundance Institute | Skoll Stories of Change initiative, the film was just chosen as a Top Five in the 2015 GlobalGiving Video Contest. “We had more than 60 amazing video submissions and a very tough job of choosing just a handful of winners,” GlobalGiving said on their blog.

Watch “Stand with Sanju” above, and learn more about the contest here.

 

Belgian Parliament Adopts Resolution Urging Government to Prioritize Child Marriage

March 6, 2015 by
 
 

Exciting news from Girls Not Brides,  following Girls Not Brides member Plan Belgium’s advocacy efforts and campaign to end child marriage which launched in October 2014:

“The Belgian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution calling for more efforts to help end child, early, and forced marriage.
The resolution calls on the Belgian government to address child marriage as part of its development and cooperation policy. With 7* out of 18 official partner countries with prevalence rates higher than 30%, Belgium needed a strong commitment to address child, early and forced marriage. Belgium is about to renew its cooperation agreement with Niger, the country with the highest percentage of child marriages.” * These countries are: Niger, Mali, Mozambique, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Benin.

Read more: http://www.girlsnotbrides.org/belgium-urged-prioritise-child-marriage-development-cooperation-policy/

 

Jeff Skoll to Receive Arbuckle Award at Stanford Tonight

March 5, 2015 by
 
 

Congratulations to our founder and chairman, Jeff Skoll, who will be presented with the Ernest C. Arbuckle Award at Stanford University tonight.

Sponsored annually by the Stanford GSB Alumni Association, the Ernest C. Arbuckle Award recognizes excellence in the field of management leadership. The award was created in 1968 in honor of the late Business School dean whose name it bears. Recipients demonstrate a commitment to both managerial excellence and to addressing the changing needs of society.

Learn more: http://alumni.gsb.stanford.edu/events/arbuckle and watch past videos: https://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=DE7D6BE0D622DA2A

 
 

© 2015 Skoll Foundation.