Skoll Foundation


Half The Sky Foundation

Skoll Awardee(s): Jenny Bowen
Award Year: 2008
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Education

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“The trick to getting things done isn’t always about getting those in power to say yes. Sometimes, it’s about getting them not to say no, for long enough to find the answers.”

Sub-Issue: Early Childhood to Primary Education Institutionalization has devastating effects on children. When no one talks to them, cares for them, or shows love, their development suffers, and they lose their chance for a productive, happy, or normal life.

The social entrepreneur: Jenny Bowen and her husband, Richard, adopted a toddler from a Chinese orphanage. The girl they brought home was shut down, vacant, almost inert. Being part of a family changed everything. As her daughter responded to nurturing care and blossomed, so did Jenny’s idea for Half the Sky (a reference to the Chinese proverb, “Women hold up half the sky”). Jenny was convinced that training caregivers, teachers and foster parents to provide the nurturing care crucial for healthy development could transform children’s lives. In partnership with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, and with ChunHui Bo’Ai, its sister organization in China, Half the Sky has embarked on an initiative to train every child welfare worker in the country, combining Chinese best practices with the Italian Reggio-Emilia approach to education, and operating programs for infants and preschoolers, personalized learning for older children, and loving permanent care and guidance for children with disabilities. At the time of the Skoll Award, Half the Sky was providing family-like, nurturing care to thousands of children in 38 state-run orphanages in China. It had been invited by the Chinese government to expand its program to 300 institutions.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2008:

  • Offering five core programs, serving children from birth to adulthood, in 52 cities across China.
  • Directly impacted nearly 100,000 children, and indirectly impacted thousands through training of trainers.
  • Set up 23 of 31 planned provincial model centers to demonstrate practices throughout the country.
  • China’s Rainbow Program, a national integrated training initiative launched in 2010, incorporates HTS methodology to bring international standards of care to all areas of child welfare, and to date has trained 4,368 caregivers from 324 institutions impacting 21,000 children.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.