Skoll Foundation


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:


Manchester Bidwell Expanding to Israel: Story in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

May 27, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee Manchester Bidwell’s international expansion was featured in the news on Sunday. Excerpts from the article:

“’We have much to learn from Pittsburgh. There’s a need for a vocational center like that,’ said Elad Strohmayer, deputy consul general of Israel for the Mid-Atlantic.

The Israeli center will be located in Akko, or Acre, a city with about a 75-25 percent split of Jews and Arabs. Mark Frank, a volunteer helping to start it, said the site may open as a demonstration project and then expand to accommodate 100 students in three to five years. ‘It’s unfortunate that the Israeli Arabs and Israeli Jews have all too little contact with each other,’ Frank said. ‘This would be one possibility that, if history is any lesson, kids will come together and get to do something they love to do in a mixed, shared, social setting.’

…[Strickland] expects to open the center in Israel first, London second, and then Japan. If he gets Arabs and Jews interacting in a classroom, he may accomplish what diplomats try to do.

‘When people have a reason to live, they don’t have a reason to die,’ Strickland said. ‘Terrorism thrives on ignorance and illiteracy. This therapy will work there.’”

Read more:


Stories of Change Filmmakers Reflect on the Skoll World Forum

May 22, 2014 by

Sundance Stories Of Change was at the 2014 Skoll World Forum in full force, hosting two dinners, round robin mirror sessions with 12 Skoll Awardees, an Ambitious Storytelling seminar, an evening film screening, a networking event: “Finding Your Story and Making it Count,” and counseling the Mastercard Foundation Young Leaders on their storytelling strategies.

The multi-year, $5 million initiative of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and the Skoll Foundation brings together leaders in both documentary and social entrepreneurship with the goal of combining the power of nonfiction storytelling with the impact of social entrepreneurship.

After this year’s Forum, three of the Sundance filmmakers and media advisors wrote beautiful blogs sharing their experiences. Here are some excerpts:

From Deborah Alden: “Storytelling often brings people closer together, but when you ask social entrepreneurs to share why they do what they do, the effect is magnified and profound….This was my third Stories of Change convening and while I already miss the gang, I have also learned that to be part of a convening is to be part of the Sundance/Skoll family. Relationships built at this and previous gatherings are deep and cherished. They continue to daily nourish my soul, inform my life, and inspire my practice. For this, I am grateful.” read more


Sally Osberg Honored by Santa Clara University

May 19, 2014 by

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg was honored with the Magis Global Changemaker Award from Santa Clara University (SCU) in Santa Clara, Calif., on Sunday, May 18.

“A friend of mine once called social entrepreneurs ‘human tipping points,’” Sally said during her acceptance speech. “I’ve come to like even better where that idea points—to a global movement taking root in rural villages and urban slums, in corporate boardrooms and in gatherings of the G 20, in Silicon Valley garages, Rwandan clinics and on college campuses like Santa Clara’s. It’s an unruly movement, a growing movement, a movement of movements.”

Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at SCU, said, “It was Sally’s pioneering advancement of social entrepreneurship that garnered her the Magis Global Changemaker Award. I think I can safely say that the Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI) program would not exist without Sally Osberg and the Skoll Foundation.”

Before Sally took the stage, the “Ambition” video from the 2014 Skoll World Forum was shown. The theme of the 2014 Forum, “Ambition” highlights some of humanity’s most ambitious accomplishments to date, and offers a glimpse of Forum attendees’ visions of the future and how the ambition of social entrepreneurs will drive solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Nearly 300 guests attended the Magis dinner, which also featured: read more


Search For Common Ground Northern Nigeria Project Manager Testifies Before U.S. Senate

May 16, 2014 by

Search for Common Ground Northern Nigeria Project Manager Lantana Abdullahi just testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.  As a special guest and the only non-governmental expert to testify, Lantana spoke by video from Jos, Nigeria.  Jos is in the same region of Nigeria as Chibok, the town where 260 girls were abducted last month.   She shared what it was like there now, discussed opportunities and made recommendations.

Here’s SFCG’s summary of what Lantana said:

  • Help communities cope with and recover from the crisis by providing trauma healing, psychosocial support, and humanitarian relief – including displaced people, former abductees, and families who have lost loved ones.
  • Adopt a regional approach, working with governments as well as communities living in the areas surrounding Northeastern Nigeria.
  • Prioritize and support a robust, community-focused approach to improving human security and civilian protection in northeastern Nigeria.
  • Work directly with all local Nigerian stakeholders – civil society, religious and community leaders, women, youth, and the media in order to empower people living in these areas. read more

#BringBackOurGirls: Visayan Forum Foundation’s Statement

May 15, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee Visayan Forum Foundation rescues human trafficking victims in the Philippines, and shared with us their thoughts on the Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria.

“Visayan Forum strongly condemns all forms of modern-day slavery. The abduction of over 200 school girls in Nigeria for purposes of ransom, sale, political negotiation, or forced marriage is morally reprehensible. The statement of Boko Haram’s leader, that ‘there is a market for selling humans’ and that girls would be sold into marriage because they are ‘slaves’ is a painful reminder that human trafficking and modern-day slavery continue to thrive in our world.

The ease with which a group of bandits can curtail the right of children to access education is appalling. It reveals the need for stronger collective action to protect the right of children, especially girls, to education. When children are educated, their life outcomes improve dramatically and their vulnerability to forced marriage, sex trafficking, and dangerous forms of child labor is decreased. We must not allow anything to stand between our children and their education.”

Visayan Forum continues its rescue operations alongside government partners, operating shelters and safe houses to rehabilitate victims, and is running campaigns calling on the Philippine government to protect Filipino overseas workers. They recently co-hosted a national seminar on human trafficking and modern-day slavery with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.

Visayan is looking for signatures for their new online campaign to stop human trafficking in Kuwait:


Medic Mobile Joins First Nonprofit-Tech Startups Accelerator

May 14, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee Medic Mobile is among five organizations chosen for a startup accelerator, Fast Forward. Another Skoll Foundation connection: Sal Khan of Khan Academy and Premal Shah of Kiva are among Fast Forward’s supporters. Read part of the formal announcement below:

Fast Forward is excited to announce the organizations participating in this summer’s accelerator program. The groups in this inaugural class leverage technology (open source software, always connected devices, inexpensive variable cost web infrastructure, APIs for most anything) to address health, education, and poverty issues in the Bay Area and around the globe:

FFWD 2014 Class

  • Medic Mobile: Mobile communication platform for remote health workers, started in a Stanford dorm room and now helping reach the 1B people who will never see a doctor in their lives

  • MoneyThink: Tech-enhanced personal finance mentorship for under served teens, targeting those under 25 (America’s fastest growing group filing for bankruptcy) read more


Skoll Awardees Advancing Girls’ Education

May 12, 2014 by

A recent Nick Kristof column about the plight of the kidnapped Nigerian girls brought to light how readers can help support girls’ education there and around the world. First Lady Michelle Obama, like Kristof, mentioned Skoll Awardee Malala Yousafzai this weekend (listen to her Mother’s Day Address).

Here’s an excerpt from Kristof’s New York Times column, “What’s so scary about smart girls?”

“…That’s when a nonprofit called the Campaign for Female Education, or Camfed, came along and helped pay for Angeline to stay in school. She did brilliantly in high school and is now the regional director for Camfed, in charge of helping impoverished girls get to school in four African countries. She’s paying it forward. Educating girls and empowering women are also tasks that are, by global standards, relatively doable. We spend billions of dollars on intelligence collection, counterterrorism and military interventions, even though they have a quite mixed record. By comparison, educating girls is an underfunded cause even though it’s more straightforward. Readers often feel helpless, unable to make a difference. But it was a grass-roots movement starting in Nigeria that grabbed attention and held leaders accountable to address it. Nigeria’s leaders perhaps now realize that they must protect not only oil wells but an even greater treasure: the nation’s students. Likewise, any of us can stick it to Boko Haram by helping to educate a girl. A $40 gift at buys a uniform so that a girl can go to school.”

Besides Camfed, Skoll Awardees Tostan, The Citizens Foundation, The Afghan Insitute for Learning and Girls Not Brides all have primary or secondary focuses on girls’ education. The Visayan Forum Foundation helps prevent girls from being sold into human trafficking and teaches them life skills, entrepreneurship and IT so they can get jobs or pursue further studies. Watch our blog this week for more about these Skoll Awardees helping make sure girls around the world attend school.


National Congress of Paraguay Honors Luis Szaran

May 9, 2014 by

Skoll Awardee Luis Szaran recently received Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In light of his most recent honor, Paraguay’s National Congress held a ceremony in his honor at the Legislative Palace.

“This achievement gives us great satisfaction, possible thanks to the ideals, hard work, and fighting spirit of a fellow admired composer, teacher and orchestra musician, and a great social commitment …they are honoring Szaran not just the teacher, but all of the Paraguayan people,” said National Congress Senator Julio Velazquez.

The senator handed Luis a baton carved in wood, made by the artist Carlo Spatuzza, symbolizing excellence.

Learn more:


Skoll Foundation Applauds Stanford’s Decision to Divest from Coal Companies

May 7, 2014 by

Stanford University just announced it will not make direct investments in coal mining companies (it now has an $18.7 billion endowment of stock in these companies), and The Skoll Foundation applauds this decision. The New York Times noted that this makes Stanford the first major university to support the nationwide campaign to “purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments.”

Here’s more from the Stanford Report:

“Acting on a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The move reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal. The Stanford University Board of Trustees has decided to not make direct investments of endowment funds in coal-mining companies. Stanford University will not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation, the Stanford Board of Trustees decided today.”

Read the rest:


© 2014 Skoll Foundation.