Skoll Foundation


Search for Common Ground

Skoll Awardee(s): John and Susan Collin Marks
Award Year: 2006
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Peace and Human Rights

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John Marks founded Search for Common Ground (SFCG) at the height of the Cold War to build bridges between East and West. Operating from the basic belief that the world is running out of space, resources and recuperative capacity to deal with wasteful conflict, he has built SFCG into the largest nonprofit organization in the world working to defuse, prevent and transform conflict. Susan Collin Marks is South African. Before joining her husband as Senior Vice President of SFCG, she served as a peacemaker during South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy, mediating bloody clashes, and helping formulate national policy on community policing.


  • SFCG Rwanda and TV10, with support from the Belgian Cooperation, will present Zamuka, Rwanda’s groundbreaking television show. In the opening season, viewers will follow the entrepreneurial journey of three young Rwandans with big dreams.
  • August 10, 2013 marked the 100th episode of Génération Grands Lacs (GGL), which producers used as an opportunity to recap the radio show’s greatest successes and flops. A multilingual broadcast in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, GGL manages to reach tens of thousands— if not millions— of listeners in the region.
  • In Jan. 2013, “The Team,” a film about their TV series of the same name, was nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards.
  • In 16 African, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries, they produce localized versions of The Team, a TV/radio soap opera that promotes win-win ways of solving contentious problems. In Kenya, the 26-part series has been the third most-watched program in the country. The Côte d’Ivoire series won First prize at the an Italian festival for best African dramatic TV series of 2009.
  • They work in 30 countries. 83 percent of their team are local to the countries they work in.
  • Their program in Macedonia for bilingual and multicultural pre-schooling in public kindergartens was fully institutionalized within the country’s official education structures.
  • In 2008, they co-convened a working group of 34 distinguished Americans to make recommendations to the incoming U.S. administration on how to improve relations with the Muslim world. Madeleine Albright, a participant in the process, lauded the report as “very strong advice to the next president.”
  • With Outward Bound, they launched a leadership development program for Israeli and Palestinian social entrepreneurs, both to empower them in their individual work and to create the core of a Palestinian-Israeli network working for positive social change. The program proved so successful that we are expanding to it to include young political and religious leaders.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.