Skoll Foundation


David Brooks Praises B Corporations

July 9, 2014 by

New York Times columnist David Brooks just wrote an op-ed praising B Corporations. Here’s what Skoll Awardees Jay Coen Gilbert, Bart Houlahan and Andrew Kassoy of B Lab had to say about it:

“Are you Lennon or McCartney or both?

David Brooks’ OpEd on B Corps yesterday in the New York Times holds up the creativity and leadership of B Corps as a promising synthesis of competing world views about how to solve society’s most pressing problems.

‘B Corporations are a way to transcend the contradictions between the ineffective parts of the social sector and myopic capitalism.’

It seems a pretty big deal, and an important bit of mainstream market validation, for a moderate thought leader like Brooks to dedicate an entire OpEd to B Corps, framing the movement as he has.”
Congratulations, B Lab!



Entrepreneur magazine: “How Fair Trade Went From a Crazy Coffee Concept to a Global Sustainability Trend”

July 9, 2014 by

Paul Rice and Fair Trade USA were just profiled in Entrepreneur. The piece focused on Paul’s innovation and ability to look ahead at a big trend. An excerpt:

“Don’t tell Paul Rice his idea is ridiculous. That idea you just scoffed at might just become a global phenomenon.Today, Fair Trade is flourishing, but getting started wasn’t easy. Rice says his idea was repeatedly rejected, with food companies saying consumers wouldn’t pay a premium for ethically-produced goods…

The first product to be Fair Trade certified was coffee – and, for many people today, that is where the awareness of Fair Trade certified products starts and ends. Admittedly, coffee is still the largest category for Fair Trade. In 1998, Fair Trade USA’s first year, 76,000 pounds of coffee were certified. In 2013, 154 million pounds were certified. In total, Fair Trade USA has certified more than 1 billion pounds of coffee.”

Read the rest:


Malala Makes First Trip to Africa, Hosted by Free the Children

July 7, 2014 by

Who can forget the moving speech given by Malala Yousafzai at the Skoll World Forum this year? Malala, who won the Skoll Global Treasure Award, just went to Kenya, hosted by Skoll Awardee Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children.

Details from the press release:

On her first trip to Africa, education activist and Malala Fund co-founder Malala Yousafzai said she was inspired by the dreams and determination of the schoolgirls she met while learning about the many challenges they have overcome to obtain an education.

The 16-year-old spent several days speaking with girls from rural Kenyan communities about their passionate desire to go to school and the many obstacles they encounter, including discrimination, poverty, child labor and early marriage. Malala said the moving stories the girls shared with her will strengthen her work as an education advocate. Malala visited Kenya recently on behalf of the Malala Fund, a foundation that empowers girls through education.

“I came to Africa to raise awareness about the 58 million children not in primary school who face numerous barriers to education,” Malala said. “I was particularly inspired to meet young girls in Kenya who are so passionate about getting an education, building their future and the future of their country.”

Malala was hosted by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, a global organization of children engaged in service and development programs. Free The Children’s young supporters have raised funds to build more than 650 schools and schoolrooms throughout the developing world, while the organization works to topple the barriers to education.

Read the rest. 


New Teacher Center Launches “Ask a Mentor” Online

July 2, 2014 by

If you’re a teacher of sixth to twelfth grade science, technology, engineering or math, you might want to check out The new site enables a teacher to upload a video of a classroom issue, and get expert support and advice right away.

“It would be phenomenal if every new teacher in the country had access to the support of a mentor and a high-quality new teacher induction program,” Ellen Moir, New Teacher Center founder and CEO, said in a press release. “While we work on making this vision a reality, we believe ‘Ask a Mentor’ can help greater numbers of new teachers across the country become more effective by accessing the expert guidance of specially-trained, accomplished teachers.”

The site is now in beta and will eventually be open to all teachers. It officially launches in late August.

Learn more: “We Need a B Lab for Sports”

July 1, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee B Lab was just featured in a article about ethics in sports. interviewed B Lab co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert and wrote that “we need a B Lab for sports.” An excerpt:

“Moving forward, how do we find out if our sports teams – beneficiaries of antitrust exemptions and taxpayer subsidies for their palatial stadia – actually share our values?

The answer is simple: we need a B Lab for sports. B Lab is the nonprofit started in 2006 by three successful one-time college buddies, two of whom were founders of AND1, the groundbreaking basketball apparel company that had $250 million in sales at its peak and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2005.  This year, B Lab received a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship for jump-starting what is commonly referred to as the ‘B Corp’ movement. B Lab’s insignia – the B stands for Benefit — confers a type of Good Housekeeping seal of approval when it comes to social responsibility for over 1,000 companies, including well-known brands such as Patagonia and Revolution Foods. ‘Many companies say they’re socially responsible,’ says co-founder Jay Coen-Gilbert, a self-described pragmatic idealist and capitalist. ‘But how do you know if that’s just marketing? A company could be in a LEED certified building, but if they’re not paying their employees a living wage, are they really socially responsible?’”

Read the rest:


Three Months Later: Charmian Gooch Reflects on the TED Prize

June 27, 2014 by

Three months ago, Skoll Awardee Charmian Gooch won the TED Prize. TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, awards its $1 million annual prize to an extraordinary individual with a bold, creative vision to spark global change. Charmian’s wish was to “end anonymous companies” and she announced it live from the main stage at the annual TED Conference.

Charmian recently sat down for a Q and A on the TED blog and talked about what she’s doing now, why she’s focusing on anonymous companies, what keeps her going, and answered questions some raised about her wish being “unrealistic.”

An excerpt:

“Q: First of all, congratulations on winning the TED Prize. How does it feel three months on?

A: It’s been amazing. The pace is speeding up, not slowing down. The TED wish launch in March was a sort of ‘take off’ moment for us. The issue is out there. In the UK, we have this lovely medieval tradition where the Queen gives a speech once a year, during which she lays out the upcoming laws that her Government is planning to introduce. Establishing a public register of company ownership is one of them. There’s also a lot of movement too in the EU Parliament, which voted in favor of public registries just before the March TED conference, and we’ve also had some really exciting, stimulating conversations around this in the US, where it’s a bit more nascent.”

Read the rest:


Mindy Lubber: New Report “Ups the Ante on Climate Change”

June 25, 2014 by

A major new climate-change report authored by three Treasury secretaries and others sums up the high expense on the economy from global warming. Skoll Awardee Mindy Lubber posted a blog with her reaction to the report:

“The fact that this group has come together to release such an important report is yet another indication that the financial community is taking climate change seriously. But the Risky Business project and today’s report makes it more clear than ever that there are twobig elephants in the room: policymakers in the U.S. and around the world who are lagging in enacting tougher policies to reduce greenhouse gases; and investors who remain fixated with short-term profits at the expense of sustainable, long-term business strategies that will protect the global environment and economy.”

Read the rest:


Carne Ross Weighs in on Iraq on The Rachel Maddow Show

June 23, 2014 by

Carne Ross of Independent Diplomat recently answered questions about Iraq on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.

The six-minute interview covered the quality of the debate (which he called “confused”), significance of the U.S. troops going in and whether or not it’s important (he said it’s not too significant), whether or not the U.S. can work with allies and if Iranians need to be engaged, possible solutions, the fate of the Kurds and political reorientation in the region, the crisis in Syria, and more. Watch it above.





Friends of the Earth Middle East Helps a Village Become a World Heritage site

June 22, 2014 by

Congratulations, Friends of the Earth Middle East! The ancient agricultural terrace of the West Bank village of Battir just became a registered UNESCO World Heritage site, and was also listed as “endangered.” The news was covered in the Jerusalem Post, CNN, and other media. A statement from FoEME:

EcoPeace / Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) is very glad to report that after many years of relentless work towards protecting the beautiful terraced landscape of Battir, yesterday afternoon UNESCO registered Battir as a World Heritage site in danger. Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director at FoEME says: “At this difficult moment of continued violence in the region, Battir remains a ray of hope for cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians towards a better future.”

Nader Khateeb, FoEME’s Palestinian Director added: “FoEME now awaits the decision of the High Court of Israel as to whether the court will prevent the building of the Separation Barrier and accept FoEME’s petition that there are alternative means to maintain security without destroying what is officially, as of yesterday, a site of World Heritage to all of humanity.”

FoEME congratulates the Battir Village Council, our “Good Water Neighbor” communities, local Palestinian and Israeli activists, our staff and our many supporters for this UNESCO listing.

Learn more from the Associated Press.


Digital Divide Data Reduces Poverty Through Outsourcing

June 19, 2014 by

This week The Guardian’s Marc Gunther took notice of the success that Digital Divide Data (DDD) has had in lifting people out of poverty through business-process outsourcing. Gunther called DDD the “pioneer of what is called socially-responsible outsourcing or simply impact sourcing”.

CEO Jeremy Hockstein says his “ultimate mission is to alleviate poverty.” The company deliberately seeks out workers in poor countries, providing them with jobs, education and training. DDD’s model is working.

“The firm has grown briskly and hired senior executives from big outsourcing companies. The company now employs about 500 people in Cambodia, 250 in Laos and 450 in Nairobi, Kenya, its fastest growing operation. Its clients include the British Library, the online genealogy firm and the watchmaker Fossil.”

Read more about Digital Divide Data.


Don’t Call Them Dropouts

June 16, 2014 by

“I used to be a menace to my community; now I am a minister to it,” says Antoine Bennett, reflecting on the impact that the YouthBuild program has had on his life.

More than 90 percent of YouthBuild participants have left high school without a diploma. The program helps them get their lives back on track, finish high school, and contribute to their communities. Since 1992, more than 130,000 young people from 270 communities across the United States have benefited from the program.

A new report, “Don’t Call Them Dropouts,” explains why people leave school: violence, abuse, poverty, under-resourced school systems, and poor networks of peer and family support.

More investment is needed in school systems, especially in poor communities where the high school graduation rate can be as low as 60 percent. As YouthBuild founder Dorothy Stoneman writes in this recent Huffington Post op-ed, with sufficient investment…

“The rewards to our nation will be enormous! Less violence, less dependency, less pain and shame; more responsibility, more productivity, more family and community coherence, more pride. The cultural impact will be enormous, and the return on investment will be substantial.”

Read the rest of the op-ed by Dorothy Stoneman.

Listen to YouthBuild participants DeAnte Andrews and Cameron Achiele talk about the program


Social Progress Index on Global Radar

June 16, 2014 by

The release of the 2014 Social Progress Index (SPI) at the Skoll World Forum in April attracted significant media attention around the world. The SPI measures the social and environmental performance of 132 countries across 54 indicators grouped into three categories: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity.

It’s much more than an academic exercise — the SPI is the first comprehensive and rigorous tool designed both to measure and promote human welfare. As Social Progress Imperative’s Chairman Brizio Biondi-Morra explains in the foreword to the 2014 report: “By reframing how the world measures success, putting the real things that matter to people’s lives at the top of the agenda, we believe that governments, businesses and civil society organizations can make better choices.”

The Index has emerged from the growing awareness that economic measures like GDP are insufficient to properly capture social progress. The SPI offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human wellbeing.

Social Progress Imperative’s advisory board includes Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School, as well as Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg.

Selected media coverage of the 2014 Social Progress Index

BBC: Move over, GDP: How should you measure a country’s value?
CNN: Michael Porter on GPS: Is the U.S. #1?
The Boston Globe: Better measuring a country
The Christian Science Monitor: Social Progress Index: Why does US rank No. 16?
The Economist: Progress on progress
The New York Times: We’re Not No. 1! We’re Not No. 1!
Mashable: The 20 Most Socially Progressive Countries in the World
Reuters: New Zealand tops social progress index, world’s biggest economies trail
The Wall Street Journal: Better Living Through Data Science: The Social Progress Index

Read more media coverage of the SPI, including from beyond the English-speaking world.

Social Progress Index 2014 Results


How Three Villages in Tanzania Became Solar Electrified

June 16, 2014 by

Six illiterate women recently became solar engineers through Barefoot College—and now, three villages in Tanzania are solar electrified. Their story is in the Inter Press Service. An excerpt:

“Just over a year ago, homes in the village of Chekeleni were dark after sunset. Today they are filled with light from solar lamps as women bustle around cooking and children do their homework near the glowing lamps. At least 200 households now have their own solar installations for lighting and other electrical needs.

Six women have brought this light to three remote southern Tanzanian villages in the Mtwara and Lindi districts. They are among the 25 illiterate, rural mothers, many of them also grandmothers, from four African countries who were trained at the Barefoot College in Tilonia in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, to install and maintain solar energy panels.

The programme was part of the 2011 ‘Rural Women Light up Africa’ initiative, a partnership between UN Women and the Barefoot College.”

Read the rest:


New Infographic Illustrates the Global Impact of Land Rights

June 12, 2014 by

Landesa created an interactive infographic mapping how secure land rights have helped millions find a path out of poverty. This is part of Landesa’s goal to help ensure that land rights are explicitly included in the post-2015 framework. That’s because secure land rights allow other development efforts to take root.

When you click on Ethiopia, for example, you’ll learn:

“Households that have fully secure and transferable rights had 5.6 percent higher agricultural productivity and were 60 percent more likely to invest in terracing. Households that perceived they had the right to mortgage or sell their land were more likely to invest in assets and activities, such as trees and terracing, that enhance future productivity.

Increases in the amount of land bequeathed or gifted to a woman reduced household food insecurity by 36 percent.”

Read about how many more countries are affected by land rights in the areas of nutrition, women’s empowerment, health, conservation, resilience, and economic development:


Premal Shah of Kiva Tells the Guardian About Mobile Phone Payments in Kenya and More

June 10, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee Premal Shah of Kiva sat down with The Guardian for a Q and A about what’s new. The interview covered everything from Premal’s childhood trips to India (he’s from Minnesota) to their new Kenya office and some pilot programs Kiva is trying there.

An excerpt:

“What is your vision for the organisation and how are you ensuring it evolves and adapts?

We opened an office in Kenya last year – it is important to have a hub in Africa given that we work with many field partners there and it will help us to be more plugged in to local trends.

We are currently piloting mobile payments which will allow us to send money directly to borrowers instead of through a field partner, using Kenya’s mobile-phone-based money transferring system M-pesa. The vision, ultimately, is to create a global community of partners who will help to alleviate poverty through business, one person at a time.”

Read the rest:


Skoll Awardees Share Their Top Learnings from the 2014 Skoll World Forum

June 5, 2014 by


I discovered a community of entrepreneurs, driven by a sense of frustration and united by a desire to correct injustice, reform failing systems and prepare the world for a healthier and safer future.

Those are the words of 2014 Skoll Awardee Sam Parker of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), upon his return from the Skoll World Forum. “Back at the office, reenergized and even more focused and determined than we were pre-Forum, we have two key challenges ahead of us,” he wrote on the, where you can read what those challenges are.

Jenny Bowen, who recently came out with a book called Wish You Happy Forever, shares that while she’s attended the Forum before, “this time around, it also got me thinking. Maybe we’re missing something here. The problems addressed by social entrepreneurs like those at the Forum are urgent and grave. Some of the solutions proposed are brilliant. Some of the progress made is astounding. Still, in the course of the week, I found myself haunted by a single thought: Humans made all these problems. We did it. So is there something we’re leaving out of all our recipes for success? Perhaps a critical part of any solution?” Read her “modest proposal.”

Yves Moury said, “Over the course of an incredible week of celebration, discussion and exchange, I was astounded by the multitude of innovators with designs for the future, and organizations with inspiring new models for change. I was left with the conviction that the ideas, tools, and people needed to put an end to extreme poverty already exist. They just need to converge…In an age of instant communication and worldwide connectivity, that possibility doesn’t seem at all farfetched. But there is a significant obstacle standing in the way of this type of collaboration, one that is, frustratingly, self-imposed.” Find out what that obstacle is.


New Report on the Social Determinants of Health

June 3, 2014 by

Manatt Health Solutions, along with The Commonwealth Fund, Skoll Foundation and Pershing Square Foundation, just released a 36-page report called “Addressing Patients’ Social Needs: An Emerging Business Case for Provider Investment.” The abstract:

“Despite growing evidence documenting the impact of social factors on health, providers have rarely addressed patients’ social needs in clinical settings. But today, changes in the health care landscape are catapulting social determinants of health from an academic topic to an on-the-ground reality for providers, with public and private payers holding providers accountable for patients’ health and health care costs and linking payments to outcomes.

These new models are creating economic incentives for providers to incorporate social interventions into their approach to care. Investing in these interventions can enhance patient satisfaction and loyalty, as well as satisfaction and productivity among providers. A variety of tools for addressing patients’ social needs are available to providers looking to leverage these opportunities. With the confluence of sound economics and good policy, investing in interventions that address patients’ social as well as clinical needs is starting to make good business sense.”

Of the eight “selective interventions” the report mentions, Skoll Awardee Health Leads is one.


3 Ways VisionSpring is Achieving Scale

June 2, 2014 by

Jordan Kassalow and Kevin Hassey of  VisionSpring outline three approaches to achieving scale in a new Stanford Social Innovation Review blog:

“In 2003, VisionSpring sold 800 pairs of eyeglasses. In 2013, we sold 481,000 pairs in 26 countries across Central and South America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. Although our sales volume has increased dramatically, when measured against the 700 million people who need but don’t own eyeglasses, our achievements haven’t made a dent. What will it take for us to achieve transformative scale—a 10-fold, 100-fold, or even a 1,000-fold increase in sales—and inspire others to do the same? We are pursuing three complementary approaches.”

Read the rest:


Search for Common Ground and Partners in Health in Rwanda: PBS NewsHour Stories

May 30, 2014 by

PBS NewsHour just aired a two-part series on Rwanda: Part One focused on efforts toward reconciliation and featured Search for Common Ground. Part Two focused on advances in national healthcare, including Partners in Health.

A summary of part one: “Twenty years after nearly a million Tutsis were killed the genocide in Rwanda, many Hutus — who were driven out in retribution — are returning to their communities. To facilitate the integration, many small groups are bringing rapprochement between pairs of genocide survivors and perpetrators. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on Rwanda’s journey toward healing and forgiveness.”

And part two: “The public health transformation in Rwanda is striking for those with memories of the massacre of nearly one million people 20 years ago. International aid groups were initially wary about getting involved, but Rwanda took ownership of its own development and built a new health care system. Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro explores how they’ve worked to overcome a shortage of doctors.”

Watch part one above, and part two here:


Sakena Yacoobi Responds to Nigerian Girls Kidnapping

May 29, 2014 by

Today on, Skoll Awardee Sakena Yacoobi shares her thoughts on the 200 girls kidnapped in Nigeria. We recently shared what another awardee, Visayan Forum Foundation, said. Here are three other Skoll Awardees working on girls’ education around the world.

An excerpt from Sakena’s op-ed:

“On the day that I heard of the kidnapping of the girls from their school in Nigeria, I was very upset.  Innocent children, whose parents had sent them to school so that they could  have better lives for themselves and their families, had been brutally taken away by ignorant, power-hungry terrorists. I believe that children are a gift from God, and they need to be protected and nurtured.  Those who harm innocent children in the name of religion are, in reality, ignorant and unbelievers.  It reminded me of the ignorant terrorists in my own country who are violently opposed to girls’ education and what we at the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL) have done to provide a safe and secure environment for women and girls to study.”

Read the rest:


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.