Skoll Foundation



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: and watch past videos:


“I Teach Rats to Locate Landmines:” Bart Weetjens in the Financial Times

March 3, 2015 by

Bart Weetjens of APOPO was just featured in the Financial Times. An excerpt:

“When I first approached people with the idea of using rats to find landmines they laughed at me. I spoke to the military in Belgium, where I’m from, and several other organisations but they said I was crazy.

It’s now been 11 years since we trained our first rat and we’ve used them to help clear more than eight million square metres of land, uncovering about 3,000 mines and more than 1,000 unexploded bombs. There are now more than 300 rats working in places like Gaza, Mozambique, Thailand and Angola. Their sense of smell is much more advanced than a dog’s, and they are much lighter and less likely to trigger a mine. We’ve never lost a rat in action — we call them Hero Rats.

Read the rest:


Spreading the Social Progress Index Across the World

February 25, 2015 by

I just wrapped up a 1.5 day training seminar at MIT in Boston with individuals from around the world who are adopting, adapting and running social progress networks in their cities, countries and municipalities.

This was the Social Progress Index (SPI) team’s first formal training session for members of the growing SPI network.  The training was a “how to” for catalyzing a local SPI network, developing a subnational index and building agendas and action plans within local contexts.

Teams from Spain, several countries in Latin America and the U.S. attended, including academics, government staff, technical experts, non-profit leaders and foundation staff.  It was a roll-up-your-sleeves event with exercises, sharing best practices and a deep dive into the rigorous, thoughtful and inspiring methodology.  Scott Stern, the MIT economist behind SPI, engaged with attendees. read more


Experiencing the Global Innovation Summit—with “Scorecards”

February 24, 2015 by

The Global Innovation Summit – one of a seemingly endless number of meetings in the Bay Area with the name “innovation” in the title —  might well serve its namesake.  As part of my job as director of the Skoll World Forum, I am required to seek out the best ways to bring people together, either in serendipitous or engineered ways, that create significant value for those attending.

And so, I and 1,000 others from over 50 countries attended this event February 17-19 in San Jose. Speakers included Skoll Awardee Sakena Yacoobi of Afghan Institute of Learning, Founder of Aramex Fadi Ghandour, Director of Case University’s Innovation Investing Cathy Clark, and many others.

The Summit’s focus on bringing to the proverbial table a challenge, an opportunity, or both, led people to be very clear about what they are looking for in the hopes to find innovative solutions. Most discussions were in the round without a formal stage.

In my first Design Lab, we were assigned to small teams in a massive real-time, hands-on “laboratory.” Every participant contributed their Rainforest Scorecard data to build the first-ever mapping of global innovation ecosystems onto Rainforest Radar charts. Judging by my table, people couldn’t help one another fast enough.  It struck me that this small bit of pre-work unlocked clarity and focus for those attending…thus allowing for relationships and productive conversation to happen rapidly and with purpose. read more


Skoll World Forum Plenary Tickets Available Today

February 23, 2015 by

JOIN US for the Skoll World Forum Plenary Sessions on April 15, 16 and 17. Tickets are now on sale for $25 per event, and all are held at New Theatre in Oxford, England.  Share, learn, and be inspired by the best and brightest thinkers and practitioners from academia, media, corporate, government, philanthropy and funding communities.

Featured 2015 speakers include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Mrs. Graça Machel, Zak Ebrahim, Ophelia Dahl, Ken Brecher, Darren Walker, and many more luminaries advancing game-changing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. read more


Safeway and Fair Trade USA Launch the World’s First Fair Trade Certified™ Seafood

February 20, 2015 by

National Geographic just wrote about this big news from Fair Trade USA. Check out the piece, “Fair Trade Writes New Story in Chapter of Tuna,” and see the press release:

Today Safeway and nonprofit organization Fair Trade USA announce a new partnership to launch Fair Trade Certified™ seafood into the North American market. Beginning with wild-capture tuna from small-scale fishermen in Indonesia, this program is the first of its kind to address both social and environmental responsibility in fishing communities across the globe.  The world’s first Fair Trade fish will debut in Safeway stores in their Northern California, Portland and Seattle Division in March. As additional supply becomes available, the tuna will be introduced in other operating areas.

After four years of research and consultation with leading industry experts and nonprofits around the world, Fair Trade USA has expanded the number of Fair Trade Certified products available by launching the Fair Trade Fisheries program.  Its goal is to build resilient livelihoods in impoverished coastal communities, improve working and living conditions, increase supply and demand for responsibly-sourced seafood, and enhance environmental stewardship.

“Fair Trade’s holistic approach has an important role to play in sustaining healthy fishing communities and oceans for generations to come.” said Maya Spaull, Director of New Category Innovation at Fair Trade USA, “and we’re thrilled that Safeway shoppers will be the first to help create lasting change through their everyday seafood purchases.”

Similar to other well-known Fair Trade Certified products, such as coffee, tea, cocoa, flowers, produce and apparel, the Fisheries program requires fishermen to source and trade according to rigorous, independently audited standards. These standards help to protect fundamental human rights, prevent forced and child labor, establish safe working conditions, regulate work hours and benefits, and enable responsible resource management. This is especially important in an industry with a long history of labor abuse.

Read the rest:


Award for Digital Divide Data– Plus, a Skoll World Forum Story!

February 19, 2015 by

We always love hearing that a great connection happened at the Skoll World Forum, and of course we are thrilled when Skoll Awardees are honored by others. So we share today two pieces of good news from Digital Divide Data (DDD):

  • DDD’s work to train and employ low-income youth for business process outsourcing jobs earned them The 2015 Global Outsourcing 100® by the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals® (IAOP®) . This honor made DDD the first and only exclusive Impact Sourcing on the list. Now in its tenth year, The Global Outsourcing 100® ranked DDD alongside major BPO players such as Accenture, IBM, and Infosys. Judging was based on size and growth, delivery excellence, programs for innovation, and corporate social responsibility. “Being named to The Global Outsourcing 100 list is no easy task,” said Michael Corbett, IAOP Chairman. “IAOP is pleased to recognize DDD for their excellence and achievement,” Corbett added. This significant recognition puts DDD prominently on the map of the global outsourcing industry.
  • After meeting at the Skoll World Forum, the Fossil Foundation partnered with DDD in late 2014 to support university scholarships and improve their educational model. Here’s more, from DDD: “When DDD’s Jeremy Hockenstein and Michael Chertok met two senior executives of the Fossil Group at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England in April 2013, they realized that they had quite a few things in common. One of them was a joint belief in the transformative power of education. DDD’s social mission is built on a work-study model that has graduated over 800 talented youth from low-income communities and significantly improved their lives and the lives of their communities.
    The Fossil Foundation’s Fossil Unbound program supports disruptive, high-impact programs in innovative learning and career readiness which enable young people to unleash potential and chart their own paths. Convinced by DDD’s ability to give today’s youth the confidence and means to determine their own futures, the Fossil Foundation partnered with DDD in late 2014 to support university scholarships and improve our educational model. But the DDD-Fossil partnership had actually started long before that.
    A few months after they first met at Oxford, the two Fossil executives visited our office in Kenya and witnessed firsthand our innovative model of providing employment and access to higher education to youth in some of the world’s poorest countries. That’s when they recognized just how well DDD’s work-study program aligned with Fossil Unbound, and after one year of strengthening our relationship, the Fossil Foundation made the grant. At DDD, we are excited to further develop our educational model and take this next step in our relationship with Fossil. The support from the Foundation will help us explore e-learning, build more partnerships with local universities, establish a vocational track for youth, and set up our education model for Liberty Source, our newest operation center located in Virginia, USA.”

Slum Dwellers International Featured on PBS NewsHour

February 12, 2015 by

On Tuesday evening, PBS NewsHour aired a profile of Skoll Awardee Jockin Arputham who leads Slum Dwellers International.

In the piece, reporter Fred de Sam Lazaro accompanies Jockin on a walk through impoverished neighborhoods in Mumbai, India, where up to 9 million people live in slums or on the streets.

Jockin was awarded the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2014 for helping to improve living conditions and give a voice to people living in slums around the world.

You can also watch the feature here on the PBS NewsHour website.



What 30 Foundations Have Learned from Media Projects They Support

February 5, 2015 by

How does a foundation decide if a documentary is successful? What about digital outreach campaigns—how do you know if they have worked? A new report from Media Impact Funders (MIF) features 30 staff members at foundations, including our very own Sandy Herz.

“Funders such as Sandy Herz, Director of Global Partnerships at the Skoll Foundation, are eager to compare notes with other funders who share their transformative vision for media impact. The foundation has developed a model shaped like a funnel moving target audiences from awareness (of social entrepreneurs and their solutions to the significant world problems) to engagement (with individual social entrepreneurs addressing specific issues) to impact (on those issues).


‘At the wide end of the funnel we target awareness, and there are standard measures you can apply across a number of partners: How many stories were created? How many people did it reach? How much did you pay for it? But then from those broad audiences, you can move down the funnel and engage specific subsets around targeted media initiatives. When it works, those efforts spawn very specific opportunities to drive impact, sometimes with a target audience of just a few people at the narrow end of the funnel. But that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day,’ said Herz.”

The clear takeaway? Funders are eager to learn from, and build tools with, one another. We’ve included some of the report’s info graphics for a sneak peek inside.





“Map Your World” for Climate, Typhoon Haiyan and Affordable Internet

February 5, 2015 by

You may remember us writing about “Map Your World,” which emerged as a project of our Stories of Change film “Revolutionary Optimists.” We love what they’ve been able to accomplish using this web-based platform to empower young people. Some recent projects:

  • In 2014 Map Your World helped record the stories and data of over 1 milllion youth in the Philippines helping to restore their country in the aftermath of Typhoon Haian in partnership with Gawad Kalinga.
  • Sixth graders in a D.C. neighborhood leveraged data and story to stand up for their right to affordable internet access – and won! This was part of a partnership with the UC Berkeley Center for Cities + Schools Y-Plan Project. 
  • And in a year marked by devastating climate news, youth in Nashville mapped urban heat islands and ran a campaign to get their communities to change their energy consumption.

Learn more:


USAID and Skoll Foundation Announce Joint Investment in Evidence Action for Clean Water in Uganda

February 4, 2015 by
Photo Credit: Evidence Action


Low-cost chlorine dispensers to provide safe water to 3.2 million people in rural Uganda

Washington, D.C. – February 4, 2015. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Skoll Foundation announced a joint investment of $2 million in Evidence Action to scale up its Dispensers for Safe Water program, a proven and highly cost effective approach for providing clean water to rural communities.

The investment is the third of its kind by the Innovation Investment Alliance, a Global Development Alliance between the Skoll Foundation and USAID that is supported by the global humanitarian agency Mercy Corps, which is focused on scaling the impact of proven social entrepreneurs.

Dispensers for Safe Water installs innovative low-cost chlorine dispensers directly at the water source in rural communities in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi.

The $2 million investment by the Innovation Investment Alliance will fund the installation of 10,100 chlorine dispensers in Uganda, and provide 3.2 million more Ugandans with access to sustainable, safe water services by the end of 2015.

In Uganda, just 10 percent of the population has access to piped water and approximately 23,000 people die of diarrheal diseases annually. Children under five are especially vulnerable. Across Africa, diarrheal diseases are one of the leading causes of childhood mortality.

Dispensers for Safe Water combines rigorously-tested design with an innovative carbon credit financing model. Dispensers are placed at local water sources for people to easily add a precise dose of chlorine to their water. Dispensers cost approximately 50 cents per user per year at scale. Evidence Action finances ongoing operations through carbon credits generated because people do not need to boil water with fossil fuel to make it safe to drink.

Evidence Action joins a select group of social enterprises funded by the USAID-Skoll Innovation Investment Alliance. Previous recipients include Imazon that uses satellite imagery to help track and reduce deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, and VisionSpring, a social enterprise using an innovative business model to provide affordable and appropriate eyeglasses and vision care to people living at the base of the economic pyramid.

The USAID-Skoll Innovation Investment Alliance pairs USAID’s expertise in scaling development solutions with Skoll’s experience investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them drive solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. Mercy Corps joined the Alliance in September 2012 to help USAID identify and evaluate organizations for funding and assess their impact in solving pressing global challenges.

Contact Information:

USAID: Kathy Hunt, Senior Partnership Advisor, USAID,, +1 202 712 0076

Skoll Foundation: Suzana Grego, Director of Communications,, +1 650 331 1021

Mercy Corps: Carol Skowron, Senior Program Officer,, +1 503 896 5861

Evidence Action: Katrin Verclas, Director of Communications and Advocacy,, +1 202 780 5688


Retailers fall behind on MSC certified sustainable fish as certified cod reaches one million tons

February 4, 2015 by

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) just released figures  for the first time which reveal a growing gap between supermarkets when it comes to offering their customers ecolabelled sustainable seafood choices and protecting ocean environments. At the same time, the availability of MSC certified fish is better than ever with a million tonnes of MSC certified cod caught last year.

The story was covered by AOL UK and many other media.

Here’s more, from the MSC:

Since 2010, Sainsbury’s has been top of the table in terms of numbers of products stocked, with 163 MSC-certified seafood products for the last financial year. The retailer’s product numbers are almost twice its closest competitor, Waitrose, which is in second place with 79 certified seafood products and more than three times the number of products stocked by M&S.

Despite a growing demand for demonstrably sustainable seafood, Tesco has stalled with the number of MSC ecolabelled products on its shelves going from 17 in 2010 to 18 in 2014. Morrison’s commitment to certified sustainable seafood has dropped from 12 to 8 and Asda has similarly fallen from 27 to 21 certified sustainable products over the same period.

Earlier this year, the MSC published an independent consumer survey which revealed that 71% of UK respondents said they believed that it is important that supermarkets sell sustainably caught seafood. Respondents also said they trusted ecolabels on products (61%) more than recommendations from family/friends (57%), information from supermarkets (48%) and brands’ own promises on products (41%).

Toby Middleton, Senior UK Country Manager for the MSC, said “We know that consumers expect sustainable seafood choices in their supermarkets but not all supermarkets are making it easy for their customers. UK shoppers expect sustainability built in to their purchase, regardless of their price point. Sainsbury’s has already shown that price need not be a barrier to sustainability with even their Basics fish fingers MSC certified, at 65p a pack. It’s time for the other retailers to step up to the mark.”

Read the rest:


Dr. Paul Farmer on the Iniquities of Healthcare Funding

February 3, 2015 by

Dr. Paul Farmer wrote on the inequities of healthcare funding in “Who Lives and Who Dies,” in the London Review of Books.

“The people I lived with in the hills of central Haiti had a concise way of putting it: these were ‘stupid deaths’. It was to prevent such deaths that Partners In Health was founded in the mid-1980s, with the aim of providing care for the ailments, trivial or catastrophic, that afflicted the poorest, who were doing most of the stupid dying. PIH would also recruit and train others, whether as community health workers or nurses or doctors or managers, and generate knowledge about ‘healthcare delivery’: what’s the best way to treat Aids or cancer or drug-resistant tuberculosis in a squatter settlement in rural Haiti or a slum in Peru? How might we introduce trauma care, much of it surgical, where none exists? How might we prevent and treat malnutrition, which complicated most of the illnesses we diagnosed in children, without importing cheap food from subsidised US farms (which would further decrease the paltry incomes of local farmers, the parents of the malnourished)? How would we help the people who lived in these places, and had the most at stake, to get trained and qualified?”

Read the rest:


Motorcycles can Save Lives: Riders for Health and Andrea Coleman in WSJ

February 2, 2015 by

A new Wall Street Journal article features Riders for Health‘s work, including a Skoll-Foundation supported partnership with the Ministry of Health in the Gambia.  An excerpt:

“Ms. Coleman and her husband, Barry (also an avid biker), thought motorcycles might help. Back home in the U.K., they mortgaged their house, raised money from the biker community and founded Riders for Health, which provides motorcycles to health workers and trains them in road safety and maintenance. “This is as much a part of health care as the white coat and stethoscope,” Ms. Coleman says….The group says it works with Gambia’s health ministry to run the country’s entire health-care fleet of more than 300 vehicles.

…Stanford’s Graduate School of Business recently finished a 2½-year study of the group’s impact in Zambia. Workers trained to use and maintain the bikes provided by Riders for Health conducted more outreach visits, traveled farther and served about 30 more people per visit than a control group of other health workers, the study found.”

Read the rest:


25 Years of Moving the Needle on Climate Change

January 30, 2015 by

Today the New York Times released its study showing that most Americans support government action on climate change. Skoll Awardee Ceres, which just had its 25th anniversary, wouldn’t be surprised.  In honor of its quarter-decade milestone, Ceres has compiled a list of its accomplishments, which you can read on its blog.

“A quarter of a century ago, a small group of investors founded Ceres largely in response to the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred on March 24, 1989. The idea was to bring environmentalists and capitalists together to forge a new sustainable business model, one that would protect the health of the planet and the long-term prosperity of its people.

Over our 25-year history, Ceres has introduced numerous tools to weave environmental and social challenges into company and investor decision-making and the capital markets. And we’ve enjoyed many successes.

Each month, we’ll highlight one of Ceres’ major accomplishments toward our vision for building a more sustainable global economy.”

Read the accomplishments:


Social Media’s Role in Health Care: 3 Great Examples

January 29, 2015 by

Health Care Without Harm just posted a blog featuring three health web sites that “take the core concepts that have made social media so successful and are creating innovative approaches to old problems.” An excerpt:

“The Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network on a simple premise: create an online platform for idealistic, motivated young folks from multiple disciplines to come together and influence that global discourse. The platform has been a launchpad for careers and initiatives (such as NCDFREE), and is now recognized as the voice of young professionals in international health policy circles.

Ben and Jamie Heywoods founded the online patient portal, Patients Like Me after their brother passed away from ALS. With 300,000 members, Patients Like Me enables patients to share their experiences, compare symptoms and treatment, lend support to other patients, and track their health statistics.

In an effort to address the health and environmental harm brought on by climate change, Health Care Without Harm’s Global Green and Healthy Hospitals initiative recently launched GGHH Connect. The multi-lingual digital community connects hospitals, health systems, and organizations worldwide to collaborate on sustainability efforts. Developed in partnership with Cisco and the Skoll Foundation, GGHH Connect enables hospitals to virtually meet, teach, and learn from others as they work toward their sustainability and environmental health goals.”

Read the rest:


Canada Announces $1M Investment to Improve Mental Health in African Nations

January 27, 2015 by

Today we’re sharing an official announcement about an investment in BasicNeeds, its founder Chris Underhill’s new blog and his new interview from Davos:

Grand Challenges Canada funds innovative social franchising of BasicNeeds’ Mental Health and Development Model

Toronto, Canada – Grand Challenges Canada today announced an investment in an innovative social franchise approach to scale up the treatment and support of mental illness in resource- poor countries. The approach has been developed by international mental health and development NGO BasicNeeds, to ensure their award-winning model for those living with mental illness reaches as many people in need as possible.

Today nearly 75% of the 450 million people worldwide with mental illness and epilepsy live in the developing world, and 85% of these people have no access to treatment. The size of the problem is huge, with depression alone projected to be the leading global burden of disease by 2030. This urgent and currently unmet need for better treatment and expanded access to care for those living with mental disorders in resource poor settings is what the ‘BasicNeeds Model’ seeks to address.

BasicNeeds’ unique approach works with existing health and community systems, and staff to provide community based mental health treatment through outreach clinics, mental health camps and regular check-ups. However, treatment alone is not enough for sustained improvements to mental health, which is why the Model also increases an individual’s access to emotional and practical support through self-help groups, improves their capacity to find meaningful occupation and employment, and ultimately works to changes health systems and policy for the better.

Through the implementation of its Model across 12 countries, BasicNeeds has presented strong evidence that its approach generates sustainable impact. It has enabled 86% of people with mental health problems in the communities they serve to access treatment (compared to 49% baseline), of which 73% reported reduced symptoms. The positive outcomes of reported reduced symptoms are underpinned by a reduction in mortality. Over the last 14 years, the lives of more than 600,000 beneficiaries have been improved. While this is a sizable number, it is only a drop in the ocean, when we consider the vast treatment gap.

The new investment announced today will enable organisations in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to deliver the BasicNeeds Model for Mental Health and Development themselves, under a social franchise agreement, with ongoing training and assistance from BasicNeeds International. Empowering and supporting in-country organisations to take on the independent delivery of the BasicNeeds Model will expand its reach in a sustainable and cost effective manner, whilst ensuring that quality remains central to the delivery and BasicNeeds brand. Over 3 years the funding is projected to help 10,000 people.

Simultaneously, BasicNeeds Ghana will initiate scale-up through the direct implementation of the Model in new regions in Ghana. To support this process, researchers at the University of Ghana will be rigorously testing the Model’s cost utility as compared to standard approaches to mental health treatment provided by the Ghana public health system. This will involve measuring costs against economic welfare, functional capacity and Quality Adjusted Life Years gained.

Grand Challenges Canada is investing $1 million CAD, bringing the total funding to $2 million CAD from investments made by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Skoll Foundation, Caritas Nyeri, the Ministry of Health in Osogbo Osun State, Nigeria, and the Kenyan and Ghanaian governments.

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this generous investment from Grand Challenges Canada to improve the lives of thousands of people suffering from mental illness in Africa. We are hugely grateful for this support. This investment in our social franchise programme will give us the opportunity to build the capacity of organisations in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to effectively implement our holistic model and make a difference to many more lives,” said Chris Underhill, Founder President of BasicNeeds.


In other BasicNeeds news, Underhill  just wrote an article for Mental Health Innovation Network called “Breaking Through Depression: What is the best way to reach people suffering from depression in resource-poor settings?” Here’s an excerpt:

“Despite the obvious size of the problem, to my surprise I have found that tackling depression is sometimes portrayed as a luxury in both richer and poorer nations, something to aspire to when basic standards of living, and basic levels of physical health, are met. The reality, however, is that without good mental health, all other areas of life unravel. Depression prevents people from studying or working and impairs their relationships with others. It can also damage physical health, as an individual’s ability to look after themselves is reduced. In resource-poor settings, sufferers find their social standing is decimated as they become unable to contribute economically to their family, and their unusual behaviour makes them feared and rejected by their community.”

Read the rest:


“Social” Shines at Sundance

January 26, 2015 by

Snow-covered mountains, celebrities, and long lines in the streets of Park City can only mean one thing: the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

The Skoll-Sundance partnership is a natural one. The Skoll Foundation has a long history of storytelling about entrepreneurial solutions to some of the world’s thorniest problems. Sundance has a long history of cultivating a cutting-edge community of filmmakers unafraid to tackle complicated issues. The Stories of Change program, a Skoll-Sundance collaboration, is often regarded as one of the Foundation’s most successful initiatives.

As Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg put it, “Sundance Institute, led by Robert Redford, is a leading voice for independent storytelling whose community of world-class storytellers share with Skoll a deep commitment to highlighting injustice and shining a light on solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”

As Ken Brecher, former Executive Director of the Sundance Institute, liked to say, “It used to be that you went to Sundance to escape the world, now you go to Sundance to learn about the world.”

This year’s lineup covered a huge range of issues. The documentary segment alone addressed themes that included education (Most Likely To Succeed), sexual assault (The Hunting Ground), civil rights (The Black Panthers, 3 1/2 Minutes), environmental issues (How To Change The World, Racing Extinction), Middle East conflict (Censored Voices), and more.

Of particular note was Racing Extinction, directed by Louie Psihoyos (known for his previous work on The Cove), which gave us an alarming look at the overfishing of sharks and manta rays in Asia, climate change and ocean acidification, and how current trends compare to previous extinction cycles.

Another festival highlight was the latest from Participant Media, 3 1/2 Minutes, which tells the story of the 2012 murder of unarmed teenager Jordan Davis, in Jacksonville, Florida. Davis’ parents spoke following the film screening and delivered a powerful message of racial unity that felt especially relevant in light of the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

Last but certainly not least was the Sundance-Skoll Stories of Change panel which brought together directors Jehane Noujaim (The Square), Orlando Bagwell (3 1/2 Minutes), Laura Poitras (Citizen Four), Jess Search of Britdoc, and Skoll Awardee Carne Ross of Independent Diplomat. The event was massively oversubscribed with lines down the block.

The panel followed recent news that Skoll is expanding our support of the Stories of Change program with a $2.5 million dollar grant, including $1 million that will be used to fund new content that shines a spotlight on solutions to urgent social issues. A video of the panel will be available shortly.



New to the program is the inclusion of support for non-documentary feature films, new media initiatives, and new forms of media. One of the big trends we saw at this year’s Sundance Festival was the use of virtual reality technology through systems like Google’s Cardboard and Oculus Rift. While most people associate the technology with gaming, it was impressive to see how developers are using the immersive experience to explore a wide range of social issues, like the conflict in Syria and sexual assault.

It was heartening and clear for all to see that the Sundance community remains committed to bringing awareness to social issues, in the belief that the power of a story well told can change lives and the world. Filmmakers often risk their lives and make huge sacrifices to bring these stories to life. Sandy Herz, Director of Strategic Alliances at the Skoll Foundation, summed it up well: “There’s no better place to find courage than the Sundance community.”

Inside PhilanthropySkoll and Sundance Ramp Up Their Partnership to Tell “Stories of Change”


Joe Madiath’s New TED Talk: “Better Toilets, Better Life”

January 26, 2015 by

Joe Madiath of Gram Vikas was one of the Skoll Awardees who spoke at TED Global last year, and his talk was just released online.

He talks about he problem of open defecation in India and how his organization is solving the problem. An excerpt from his talk:

“We have had clear evidence of the great impact of [our] program. Before we started, there were, as usual, more than 80 percent of people suffering from waterborne diseases. But after this, we have empirical evidence that 82 percent, on average, among all these villages—1,200 villages have completed it—waterborne diseases have come down 82 percent. (Applause) Women usually used to spend, especially in the summer months, about six to seven hours a day carrying water. And when they went to carry water, because, as I said earlier, it’s only women who carry water, they used to take their little children, girl children, also to carry water, or else to be back at home to look after the siblings. So there were less than nine percent of girl children attending school, even if there was a school. And boys, about 30 percent. But girls, it has gone to about 90 percent and boys, almost to 100 percent. (Applause) The most vulnerable section in a village are the landless laborers who are the daily wage-earners. Because they have gone through this training to be masons and plumbers and bar benders, now their ability to earn has increased 300 to 400 percent.”

Hear the entire 12-minute talk at


Stella Artois and Launch “Buy a Lady a Drink” to Help Stop Women’s Journeys to Collect Water in the Developing World

January 22, 2015 by

Limited-edition Chalices help support the cause: One Chalice provides five years of clean water to one person in the developing world

 (NEW YORK, NY – January 22, 2015) – Today, with the support of and its co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White, Stella Artois launched its first global social impact campaign ‘Buy a Lady a Drink’ to drive awareness of the global water crisis and help provide solutions. Every day, women around the world spend a combined 200 million hours collecting clean water for their families. ‘Buy a Lady a Drink’ aims to help put a stop to these water-collecting journeys, so women can start new journeys of their own.

Stella Artois has made a donation of $1.2 million to and is now inviting consumers to join the cause by purchasing limited-edition Chalices. One Chalice will help provide five years of clean water to one person in the developing world. In the U.S., consumers can purchase one of the 20,000 exclusive Chalices for $12 at; all proceeds from sales of the Chalices will be donated to Beyond purchasing a Chalice, consumers will also be able to learn more about the Stella Artois ‘Buy a Lady a Drink’ campaign, the partnership with and stories of women directly impacted by the global water crisis by visiting

“We’re honored to be joining forces with this premier global brand that has stepped up to support and help us raise awareness of the water crisis,” said Gary White, co-founder of

“Awareness is as important as fundraising,” said co-founder Matt Damon. “We want people to understand the issue in all its complexity.”

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© 2015 Skoll Foundation.