Skoll Foundation


Jenny Bowen Blogs on Her Book Launch

March 14, 2014 by

By Jenny Bowen, author of the new book, Wish You Happy Forever: What China’s Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains

When I told writer friends that my first book was about to come out, just about everyone cautioned me kindly, “Don’t be too disappointed if nothing happens. Publishers don’t really do those big book tours for first-time authors anymore. Launch day can be like any other day, except, with luck, you’ll see your book for sale in an actual bookstore. That’s pretty exciting.”

It sure is. But as it turned out, my publication day bookstore visit was the cherry on top of an altogether spectacular 24 hours.

Monday Night, March 10: It was “pub day” eve. JPMorgan Chase, primary funding partner of our Rainbow Program initiative, hosted a gathering at their Park Avenue headquarters. I was delighted to be interviewed by Jane Pauley. My very first book event was painless, even fun, in her caring and experienced hands. read more


Water For People Forges Partnership With Toms To Bring Safe Drinking Water To More Communities

March 12, 2014 by

Congratulations to Water for People on this big news, featured in Forbes and The New York Times:

Water For People and TOMS announced a strategic partnership to provide safe drinking water in developing countries. With an estimated 1.8 billion people living without access to safe drinking water, this partnership will help to support sustainable water systems that are locally run, built, and maintained to last for generations.

TOMS, known for its One for One shoe and sight ventures, is now entering the coffee market with TOMS Roasting Co. Under the guidance of a master brewer, TOMS Roasting Co. will offer six premium coffee varieties with beans sourced across the globe. For every bag of coffee purchased, TOMS Roasting Co. will work with Water For People to provide sustainable water systems to the countries from which the beans are sourced – Rwanda, Honduras, Peru, Guatemala, and Malawi. read more


Jenny Bowen’s Book Available Today

March 11, 2014 by

The second book in the Skoll Foundation-HarperOne partnership released today, and we’re very excited! Wish You Happy Forever is a new memoir that tells the story of China’s momentous progress in its treatment of orphaned and abandoned children.

When social entrepreneur Jenny Bowen launched Half the Sky in 1998, it seemed impossible that China would allow a foreigner to work inside government orphanages, let alone try to bring meaningful change. But gradually, after witnessing Half the Sky’s quiet perseverance and miraculous success, the Chinese government now partners with Half the Sky to make children’s’ lives better.

Jenny is in New York today, and her book tour continues to Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, California, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Austin, Chicago and Minnesota—see the exact dates.

Jenny has written a five-part series on “Half the Sky: A Voice for the children, Taking it to the Road,“ “Millions of Forgotten Children, No Longer Forgotten“, “Half the Sky Foundation Founder and CEO Talks About ‘Wish You Happy Forever’“, “Half the Sky: A Rainbow for China’s Children” and “Half the Sky: Taking Our Solution to Scale.”

View the book trailer above.


Khan Academy to make SAT prep materials open and free

March 6, 2014 by

You likely heard the news that the SAT is undergoing major changes (no more essays, for one). What we are most excited about is Skoll Awardee Khan Academy’s game-changing role in the news: a partnership with College Board, the makers of the test.

“The partnership between Khan Academy and the College Board directly addresses one of the greatest inequities around college entrance exams: the culture of high-priced test preparation,” the Khan Academy says on its site. Now, for the first time, all students have the opportunity to practice for the SAT with completely free, best-in-class materials. We will work in close collaboration with the College Board to create thousands of in-depth practice problems and instructional videos available spring of 2015 – a full year before the launch of the redesigned SAT.”

Talk about system-level change!

Watch the above video of Skoll Awardee Sal Khan talking with College Board CEO David Coleman above to learn more, and visit Sal’s blog at


TED and the Skoll Foundation Honor Charmian Gooch and Global Witness with Two Prestigious Million-Dollar Awards

March 5, 2014 by

New York, NY (March 5, 2014)—TED and the Skoll Foundation are proud to join in making a unique announcement: each will direct their annual million-dollar prizes to Global Witness. TED will grant its award to Charmian Gooch, Global Witness Co-Founder and Director. The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship will honor all three Co-Founders and Directors – Patrick Alley, Charmian Gooch, and Simon Taylor – and the organization itself for its extraordinary innovation in disrupting an unjust and unsustainable status quo.

Though TED and the Skoll Foundation separately decided to honor Gooch and Global Witness with their 2014 awards, the organizations are making a joint announcement to highlight the value, merit and distinct contributions of this cutting edge investigative and campaigning organization. For 20 years, Global Witness has run pioneering analysis and campaigns against natural resource-related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses.

“I am thrilled to announce Charmian Gooch as the 2014 TED Prize winner,” said Chris Anderson, TED curator. “That both TED and Skoll independently selected Charmian and Global Witness as recipients of these prizes is a remarkable testament to their daring investigative and campaigning work. The TED Prize is granted annually to an inspiring individual with a world-changing wish – one that Charmian will reveal at the TED Conference in just two weeks’ time.”

TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, awards its annual prize to an extraordinary individual with a bold, creative vision to spark global change. The TED Prize leverages the TED community’s resources and invests $1 million into a powerful, world-inspiring idea. 2014 TED Prize recipient Charmian Gooch will announce her wish live from the main stage at the annual TED Conference. The session will be broadcast globally for free on March 18 (6-7:45 pm PST):

“Social entrepreneurs are, by definition, disruptors. Patrick, Charmian, and Simon’s leadership epitomizes great social entrepreneurship in Global Witness’s quest to expose global conflict, corruption, and environmental degradation, lifting millions out of poverty and protecting the environment. We are delighted to announce Patrick, Charmian, and Simon as among our 2014 Skoll Awardees,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation.

“Skoll and TED both connect and showcase inspiring, entrepreneurial, breakthrough innovators. We are thrilled to be working closely with our TED colleagues, who share our mission to catalyze social change.”

The Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship each year to transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised for even greater impact. Recipients of the Skoll Award gain leverage and scale through a global community of social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems. Global Witness’s Patrick Alley, Charmian Gooch, and Simon Taylor will be honored along with other 2014 Skoll Awardees at the 11th Annual Skoll World Forum in Oxford, April 9-11.

“Everyone at Global Witness is honored and thrilled to receive these two prestigious awards, from two remarkable organizations,” said Charmian Gooch, Co-Founder and Director of Global Witness. “They truly are a rocket boost to our work – making it possible for us to carry out even more cutting edge investigations, report on matters in the public interest, and launch hard hitting campaigns that challenge vested interests and change the system. I’m personally also very excited about the prospect of announcing the details of my TED Prize Wish live from the TED conference in March. This being our 20th Anniversary year, we couldn’t have wished for a better birthday present.”


About Global Witness

Founded in 1993, Global Witness is a UK not-for-profit based in London and Washington DC.

Global Witness investigates and campaigns to change the system by exposing the economic networks behind conflict, corruption and environmental destruction. The organization focuses on undertaking hard-hitting investigations into matters of profound public interest that expose the companies, the corrupt, the bankers, the corporate executives, and the middlemen of various kinds who willfully enable corruption to take place on a grand scale. Global Witness reports on these matters, and launches campaigns that change the terms of debate and set the global agenda.

Patrick Alley, Co-Founder & Director, Global Witness

Since posing as a timber buyer in Global Witness’s first investigation into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, Patrick has taken part in over fifty field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe and in subsequent advocacy activities. Patrick has focused on Global Witness’s campaigns on conflict resources, notably former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s ‘arms for timber’ trade, the minerals trade in Eastern DRC and more recently the Central African Republic, as well as providing strategic direction for Global Witness’ work on forest issues, especially challenging industrial scale logging and land grabbing in the tropics. In addition, he is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness.

Charmian Gooch, Co-Founder & Director, Global Witness

Charmian worked on Global Witness’s first ever investigation into how the illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand was funding the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Subsequent to that, Charmian developed and launched Global Witness’s groundbreaking campaign to combat ‘blood diamonds,’ using detailed research and field investigations across Africa and Europe. Global Witness was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds, and in 2005 the organization received the Gleitsman International Activist Award. Charmian has wide-ranging experience advocating for international policy solutions to address natural resource-related conflict and corruption. In addition, she is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness.

Simon Taylor, Co-Founder & Director, Global Witness

Simon worked on Global Witness’s first ever investigation into how the illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand was funding the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. After that, Simon launched and led Global Witness’s oil and corruption campaign in December 1999, after investigating companies and elite groups involved in this sector. This began the global call for transparency around payments by companies to governments for natural resources, leading to Global Witness’s conception and co-launch of the Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign, which now consists of over 790 civil society organisations worldwide. Simon has detailed expertise of natural resource-related corruption and extensive advocacy experience, and continues to be at the forefront of the push for a global standard of revenue transparency legislation, as well as being actively involved in Global Witness’s work to expose corruption in the sector.  In addition, he is involved in the strategic leadership of Global Witness.

For press inquiries: Andrea Pattison +44 7703 671 308

About the TED Prize

The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by the world’s leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to change the world – one wish at a time. The original prize: $100,000 and the TED community’s range of talent and expertise. What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED community has evolved into an ambitious effort to spur global-scale change.

From Bono’s the ONE Campaign (’05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver ‘s Food Revolution (’10 recipient) to JR’s Inside Out Project (’11 recipient) and Sugata Mitra’s School in a Cloud (’13 recipient), the TED Prize has helped to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and inspire art around the world.

For Press Inquiries: Erin Allweiss +1 202 446 8265/

About the Skoll Foundation & the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship distinguishes transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised for even greater impact. Recipients of the Skoll Award gain leverage and scale through a global community of social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

The 2014 Skoll Awardees will be honored at the 11th Annual Skoll World Forum in Oxford, April 9-11. Sign up to watch the live stream from Oxford here.

For press inquiries: Suzana Grego +1 650 331 1021/


The Skoll Foundation Announces Seven 2014 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship

March 5, 2014 by


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

Recipients Should Be on Everyone’s Global Progress ‘Watch List’ 

PALO ALTO, CA, March 5, 2014—The Skoll Foundation today announced the seven 2014 recipients of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship.

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

“These are not lifetime achievement awards,” said Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. “These are bets on the people who will create better futures for millions.”

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.

Each Awardee receives a $1.25 million, three-year core support investment to scale their work and increase their impact. They also gain leverage through their long-term participation in a global community of visionary leaders and innovators dedicated to solving the world’s most pressing problems.

The 2014 Skoll Awardees represent seven organizations partnering with communities in 35 countries that are poised to crack the code on issues that matter the most to humanity.

“Ambition gives social entrepreneurs the vision and the fuel to do good things in smarter and better ways,” said Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation. “As they solve problems ranging from water and sanitation to health and global transparency, social entrepreneurs are driving toward creating a sustainable world of peace and prosperity.”

Driving transformation on a range of issues to maximize health, education, opportunity, transparency, and accountability in some of the poorest places on earth, these pioneers should be on the watch lists of everyone who cares about the future of the world:

B Lab

“Redefining Success in Business as Best FOR the World”

Co-founded by longtime friends and colleagues, Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan, and Andrew Kassoy, B Lab is fueling a global movement to redefine “success” in business, so that all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. B Lab is challenging the status quo by building a new sector, legal structure, and standards; empowering a community of certified B Corporations; and advancing public policies that enable companies to create financial, social, and environmental value for both its shareholders and for society. With 20 states having passed Benefit Corporation legislation, nearly 1,000 B Corporations certified, and 16,000 companies using its tools, B Lab is focused on accelerating the global adoption of this new model.

Fundación Capital

“Helping Millions Save Their Way Out of Poverty”

Half of the world’s adult population—2.5 billion people—are “unbanked,” lacking access to financial services. Founded by Belgian-born Yves Moury, Fundación Capital is a pioneer in inclusive finance innovation to help the poor save; grow and invest their assets; insure their families against risk; and chart a permanent path out of poverty. Already reaching three million people, Fundación Capital is working to reach eight million more in the next few years by expanding access to training, capital, and opportunity. Fundación Capital’s efforts to align advances in public policy, market mechanisms, and technology are building momentum and poised to reach 100 million poor families across three continents by 2030, enabling them to make their own financial decisions and live their ambitions.

Girls Not Brides

“Ending Child Marriage to Empower a Generation of Girls”

Every year 14 million girls are married as children, denied their rights to health, education, and opportunity, and robbed of their childhood. Mabel van Oranje has an inspiring vision of what the world could look like if there were no child brides, and initiated Girls Not Brides with the bold goal of ending child marriage in one generation. Child marriage traps girls and their communities in poverty. By ending the practice, the global community can start to address some of the most difficult challenges in development. Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 300 civil society organizations working across 50 countries. By joining forces and working at all levels—from grassroots to international—members of the global community can tackle this harmful social norm and end child marriage.

Global Witness

“Driving Transparency to Lift the ‘Resource Curse’ of Conflict and Human Rights Abuse”

Patrick Alley, Charmian Gooch, and Simon Taylor know that many of the world’s poorest people live in the most resource-rich countries in the world. Natural resources can incentivize corruption, destabilize governments, and lead to conflict and the looting of entire states. From 2002 to 2011, illicit money flows from corrupt deals in the developing world totaled nearly $6 trillion. Global Witness investigates and exposes the shadow networks underlying these deals that fuel conflict, corruption, and environmental destruction. They collect evidence and launch hard-hitting campaigns to find global solutions and end the “resource curse” by tackling corruption, protecting the environment, preventing conflict, and defending human rights.

Medic Mobile

“Building Mobile Communications Tools to Bring Health Care to Underserved Communities”

One billion people will never see a health professional in their lives. Yet 95 percent of the world’s population has access to a mobile signal. Josh Nesbit’s  Medic Mobile was created to improve health in underserved and disconnected communities using communication tools. Medic Mobile builds mobile applications for community health workers, caregivers, and patients to increase life-saving health care coverage. Across 20 countries, its tools support 8,000 frontline health workers and benefit approximately six million people with plans to double these numbers annually for a total of 200,000 health workers serving 100 million people by 2018.

Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

“Leading Slum Dwellers around the World to Improve Their Cities”

In 2008—for the first time in history—more people were living in urban than in rural areas. Today, more than one billion people live in slums. Founded by a collective of slum dwellers and concerned professionals headed by Jockin Arputham, a community organizer in India, Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; 20 agreements with national governments; and nearly 130,000 families who have secured land rights, SDI has been a driving force for change for slum dwellers around the world.

Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)

“Helping Cities Reach Everyone with Water and Sanitation Services”

Every five seconds, the world’s urban population increases by 10 people. Everyone needs access to clean water and sanitation, putting a huge pressure on city service agencies. In response, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor has turned the traditional charity model on its head by developing commercially-viable models to bring water and sanitation to nearly two million people in urban slums in six countries. Sam Parker, a former business manager, has led the organization since 2006. Offering a creative package of private-sector, nongovernmental-organization, and academic expertise, WSUP equips public and private service agencies with the capacity and incentives to serve all citizens in their city.


Over the past decade, the Skoll Foundation has invested more than $150 million in social entrepreneurs whose transformative innovations have disrupted the status quo, improved lives, and created a new social equilibrium.

The Skoll Award is a major milestone for social entrepreneurs and an investment in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems, including: environmental sustainability, education, economic opportunity, health, peace and human rights, and sustainable markets.

The 2014 Skoll Awardees will be honored at the 11th Annual Skoll World Forum in Oxford, April 9-11. At the Forum, nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world will gather for three remarkable days of sharing, learning, and inspiration. While most delegates are practicing social entrepreneurs, a third of the community is made up of representatives from the public and private sectors—business, finance, media, academia, religion, the arts, philanthropy, and more.

Sign up to learn more and watch the Skoll World Forum live stream from Oxford here.

About the Skoll Foundation

Jeff Skoll established the Skoll Foundation in 1999 to drive large-scale change by connecting, celebrating, and investing in social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. Social entrepreneurs are society’s change agents—creators of innovations that disrupt the status quo and transform our world for the better. By identifying the people and programs already enacting positive change throughout the world, the Foundation empowers them to extend their reach, deepen their impact, and drive toward a sustainable world of peace and prosperity.


New online tool tracks deforestation

February 20, 2014 by

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and a group of more than 40 partners, including Imazon, have launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), an online forest monitoring and alert system that helps people everywhere to better manage forests. Global Forest Watch combines satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to provide access to timely information about forests.

An excerpt from the WRI announcement explains,

“Global Forest Watch will have far-reaching implications across industries. Financial institutions can better evaluate if the companies they invest in adequately assess forest-related risks. Buyers of major commodities such as palm oil, soy, timber, and beef can better monitor compliance with laws, sustainability commitments, and standards. And suppliers can credibly demonstrate that their products are ‘deforestation free’ and legally produced.”

Read more and explore the new tool.


BasicNeeds announces first social franchisee

February 20, 2014 by

BasicNeeds recently launched a social franchise program and has announced that their first franchisee will be Grameena Abyudaya Seva Samasthe (GASS), a South Indian nonprofit. BasicNeeds explained in a recent communication, excerpted here:

“Alongside the other work they do with local disabled adults and children, GASS will be taking on the delivery of the BasicNeeds Model for Mental Health and Development in rural areas of Karnataka state, South India.

Social franchising will enable BasicNeeds to support independent organisations like GASS operating predominantly in low and middle income countries to take on the delivery of our Model in their territory. This will help increase the impact of their work and most importantly, the quality of life for people with mental illness, epilepsy and their families.

The Model, initially developed and tested in India in 2000, combines access to regular community-based treatment with initiatives to overcome stigma and abuse, whilst access to livelihoods creates a threefold impact: a family’s poverty is reduced; the person’s self-esteem and recovery is improved; and the community’s view of that person is transformed.”

Read more about BasicNeeds’ social franchise opportunity.


World leaders call for humanitarian access in Syria

February 20, 2014 by

An open letter calls for a UN Security Council resolution on humanitarian access in Syria to coincide with the Olympic Games in Sochi. The letter was published in the Financial Times and is signed by 47 global leaders from 26 countries, including Madeleine Albright, Mo Ibrahim, Sir John Holmes, Javier Solana, and George Soros. An excerpt:

“In a February 6 statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry called for a global Olympic truce to the world’s conflict, particularly in Syria. In the spirit of the Olympics, we urge President Putin to build on this welcome call and make his mark in history and deliver three things:
  • The truce: lead efforts to agree a UN Security Council humanitarian resolution that calls for Syria’s parties to the conflict to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and open Syria’s conflict lines and borders to ensure aid reaches all those in need, including through local ceasefires.
  • Fair play: demand in the resolution that all parties to the conflict agree to abandon medieval and illegal tactics of war such as besieging towns, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools, and enable civilians to flee areas under attack.
  • Peaceful coexistence: reiterate Russia’s commitment to ongoing peace negotiations that will pave the way for Syrians of all faiths and backgrounds to live in peaceful coexistence once again.
While Russia cannot make this happen alone, President Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, have shown that they are able to bring about difficult feats of negotiation such as the deal on chemical weapons orchestrated with the United States. A similar partnership could unlock the step-change the world wants to see in alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Thomas Friedman takes a tour of Jerusalem’s sewers

February 19, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee, Friends of the Earth Middle East, recently led New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, on a tour of Holy Land sewers. The column explains how peace and collaboration will be critical to improving public health and the environment in the Middle East. An excerpt:

“Who knew that when you flush the toilet in your hotel in the eastern half of Jerusalem the wastewater likely ends up in the Dead Sea — untreated? It flows from Jerusalem’s sewers into the Kidron Stream. If you can stand the stench, you can watch it all rush by about a mile east and downhill from Jerusalem. Germany offered to pay for a treatment plant, but for the past 20 years Israel and the Palestinian Authority have not been able to agree on how to split the treated water — which originates in both Jewish and Arab drains, so nothing has happened. As a result, Mother Nature alone does her best to filter it as it flows down to the Jordan Valley, where Jewish settlers use some of this poorly treated water to irrigate their date palms. The rest ends up in the Dead Sea. Good thing it’s already dead.”

Read the entire column.


Report from Sundance: Using stories to catalyze change

February 10, 2014 by

Sandy Herz, our Director of Strategic Alliances, recently returned from the Sundance Film Festival where the Skoll Foundation and Sundance Institute hosted the latest Stories of Change convening. The purpose? To help social entrepreneurs and filmmakers explore how stories can catalyze and accelerate social change.

Four social entrepreneurs—Health Care without Harm, VisionSpring, BasicNeeds, and Saude Criança—were paired with experienced filmmakers and storytelling advisors during the four-day event that involved hands-on working sessions and presentations on effective storytelling.

We were honored to have award-winning filmmakers as advisors, including Nicole Newnham (The Revolutionary Optimists), Cori Stern (Open Heart) and Pete Nicks (The Waiting Room), as well as design researcher and strategist Deborah Alden.

At the end of the convening, social entrepreneurs said that they had a new appreciation of using visuals—not just words—for scaling their work, and filmmakers expressed plans to be more intentional about developing impact frameworks for future storytelling projects.

In a recent op-ed, Sandy explained the powerful nature of these storytelling collaborations for amplifying social impact:

“Just as social entrepreneurs need to move people to understand and act on the issues, documentary filmmakers need to ground their stories in actionable solutions that can be executed at scale. Together, they are far more powerful than either can be in isolation.”

Read Sandy’s op-ed and learn more about Stories of Change.


FT article highlights Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

February 7, 2014 by

A new article examines the growing demand for meaningful enterprises among MBA students. Academics and entrepreneurs are increasingly seeking out sound business ideas that can also help the environment or benefit disadvantaged communities. The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship is highlighted as a resource for students at Oxford’s Said Business School to develop innovative ideas for social benefit.

Pamela Hartigan, director of the Skoll Centre explains, ““Most MBAs no longer foster a distinction between social responsibility and entrepreneurship.” However, entrepreneurship isn’t the only way that students can do good. Says Hartigan,  “We have romanticised the concept of entrepreneurs and made them ‘heropreneurs’,” she says. “But you can be an innovative, resourceful, change-maker wherever you work.”

Read the entire article.



Communities in Mali publicly denounce female genital cutting

February 7, 2014 by

This week, communities in Mali publicly declared that they will no longer support the practice of female genital cutting and child marriage. Skoll Awardee, Tostan, has worked with these communities through its human rights-based program to support health and education for girls. The news was reported in the Washington Post and in an op-ed authored by Molly Melching, the Founder and Executive Director of Tostan.

Here’s an excerpt from the news story:

“Prior to making a public declaration, communities working with Tostan complete a three-year educational “empowerment program” emphasizing human rights. Tostan says the programs foster the type of “large-scale social change” that can spur communities to abandon a practice with deep traditional roots.

‘We know that perhaps there will still be people who may be resistant to this as always when something like this happens, especially in an urban center,” Melching said. “But we know that the people in our program and their relatives and their immediate neighbors … they have really decided to abandon the practice which is amazing.’”

Read the entire article and Molly Melching’s op-ed on the Skoll World Forum.


New report about child labor in carpet industry

February 6, 2014 by

A new report, published by a Harvard researcher, shines light on slavery and child labor in India’s handmade carpet industry. GoodWeave, a Skoll Awardee dedicated to ending child labor in the carpet industry, responded with a statement. Here’s an excerpt:

“Through a combination of forces—including our own work and the commitment of our licensed exporters and importers—child labor in the carpet industry has dropped by an estimated 75 percent since 1994. And a recent independent report affirmed that child labor is virtually non-existent in our inspected supply chains in India.

But, it’s important to remember that the rugs coming out of the supply chains certified by GoodWeave still represent a small percentage of the rugs imported into the U.S. and Europe. That’s why we are glad to be working with some of the companies referenced in the Harvard report, helping them to ensure their supply chains for rugs and carpets are free of child labor. And we welcome the opportunity to work with even more retailers, importers and exporters to rid the carpet industry of child, forced and bonded labor once and for all.”

Read GoodWeave’s statement and the full report (PDF).


Gary Cohen on improving the healthcare system

January 31, 2014 by

President of Healthcare without Harm, Gary Cohen, makes the case for further reforms to our healthcare system in a recent op-ed on Huffington Post. Gary, a Skoll Awardee, explains,

“Under the Affordable Care Act, we have a chance to move upstream and address the social and environmental factors that are making people sick in the first place. American hospitals can start by modeling the transition to a healthier environment in their own facilities. They can build cancer centers without carcinogens and pediatric hospitals without chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects. They can eliminate junk food and sugary beverages in their cafeterias and use their purchasing power to detox their supply chain. They can reduce their addiction to fossil fuels, which contribute to both immediate health impacts as well as climate change. They can become early adopters of renewable energy that will provide health benefits to all of us for generations to come.”

Read the entire op-ed.


Jenny Bowen on her new book about Half the Sky

January 29, 2014 by

Jenny Bowen, a Skoll Awardee, is the author of Wish You Happy Forever, a new book that chronicles her personal and professional journey to transform Chinese orphanages—and the lives of the neglected girls who live in them—from a state of quiet despair to one of vibrant promise.

On the Skoll World Forum, Jenny shares the story of how the book came to be written, and how the adoption of her daughter sparked her journey. Jenny notes,

“I never imagined when I founded Half the Sky, the impact we ultimately would have on the lives of millions of forgotten children. What’s happened in China is extraordinary, but anybody who’s met me knows that I’m completely ordinary. Like a lot of ordinary people, I’ve always been a big dreamer. The only difference between me (or dare I say, at least a few of my fellow social entrepreneurs) and the dreamers for whom I wrote this book is: I did it.”

Read the entire post.

The book will be released on March 11th and is available for pre-order now.


Renee Kaplan talks tech and philanthropy on public radio

January 23, 2014 by

On Thursday, Renee Kaplan, Chief Strategy Officer of the Skoll Foundation, joined a panel on technology and philanthropy on KQED’s radio program, Forum. Host Michael Krasny led a discussion on how philanthropists are using the approaches and technologies of the tech industry to help solve social problems.

The discussion covered topics ranging from how tech professionals are giving at a younger age to how new technologies are being used by innovative social entrepreneurs to tackle complex issues like deforestation.

Listen to the entire program online.


An update on reconstruction efforts in the Philippines

January 23, 2014 by

It’s been two months since Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, and Gawad Kalinga is working on reconstruction plans. In a new update, staff member Issa Cuevas-Santos shares observations on how disasters are “the new normal” for the region and how devastated communities are joining together to rebuild lives.

She explains, “Even beyond just rebuilding homes, the serious work of rebuilding lives by getting the children to school, providing livelihood opportunities and building community spirit continues. It is a long road ahead still, but they are on track and we are confident that they are on their way out of poverty, perhaps very slowly but surely.”

Read the entire update.


Op-ed on land reform by Landesa featured in The New York Times

January 17, 2014 by

A new op-ed by Landesa in The New York Times uses the recent typhoon in the Philippines to illustrate how the developing world’s landless poor routinely bear the brunt of natural disasters. Tim Hanstad and Roy Prosterman make the case that the lack of secure property rights diminishes a country’s resiliency and slows post-disaster recovery efforts. They explain,

“Families without secure rights to land (and that is a majority of rural residents in many developing countries) often remain in their homes when it is dangerous to do so, fearing they won’t be allowed to return. And without the security of ownership and access to collateral, their homes are often not built to withstand earthquakes, typhoons and other disasters.

This has profound consequences that extend far beyond the squatter camps and plantations with their legions of impoverished laborers. Landlessness and the lack of secure property rights among the poor not only hurt a country’s resiliency and slow post-disaster recovery. Those inequities also hold back economic development, perpetuate poverty and fan social tensions.”

Read the entire op-ed.


New progress on sustainable business in the Amazon

January 14, 2014 by

A project—partially supported by the Skoll Foundation—that seeks to increase sustainable business in the Amazon region is seeing early evidence of success. In a new blog post, the Conservation Strategy Fund shares more about this milestone and the innovative project model. From the post:

“Conservation Strategy Fund has been working with traditional communities in Brazil to support low-impact activities in the Amazon region. These activities have subsequently grown into sustainable businesses, from both an environmental and economic perspective. The guidance CSF has given these locally-owned businesses has helped them to grow substantially and aims to eventually contribute to decreased deforestation in Brazil.”

Read the entire post.


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.