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Jefferson Awards Foundation Names Jeff Skoll a National Award Recipient

June 2, 2015 by

The National Service Awards Ceremony will be Held June 18 in Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation, America’s most prestigious and longest standing organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, will honor America’s most outstanding philanthropic achievers in 2015 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C. Taking place in the Grand Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 18, 2015, the organization will honor this year’s recipients for their exemplary achievements in service.

During the gala, which is sponsored by Target and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Jefferson Awards Foundation will present awards to the top schools in its Students In Action program as well as award more than 50 local Jefferson Awards winners who have made a difference in their individual communities nationwide.

“Our mission at the Jefferson Awards Foundation is to recognize and celebrate outstanding achievement in public service. A testament to this mission, we are honored to recognize these amazing individuals and organizations for their incredible work in service,” said Hillary Schafer, Executive Director of The Jefferson Awards Foundation. “We continue to believe in, and activate their causes and look forward to sharing impact on a national level through our ceremony.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will receive the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official at the ceremony for her continued dedication and concern for fair process in the criminal justice system, calls for reform of the criminal justice system and dissents on issues of race, gender and ethnic identity. Previous recipients of the award include: former Arizona politician Gabrielle Giffords, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The Kid President team, consisting of Brad Montague and Robby Novak, will be awarded the award for Outstanding Service by an Individual 25 or Under. Through their work, Robby and Brad hope to foster creativity and compassion in young people while making the internet a more joyful place. Previous recipients of the 25 or Under award include 2015 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Patrick Ip and Vision For and From Kids founder Lillian Pravda.

Philanthropist and social entrepreneur Jeff Skoll will be presented with the S. Roger Horchow Award for Greatest Public Service by a Private Citizen. Skoll created the Skoll Foundation in order to bring to life his vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. He will join the ranks of previous recipients of this award including comedian Bob Hope, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and founder of Charles Best.

Lauren Bush Lauren will be presented with the Samuel S. Beard Award for Greatest Public Service by an Individual 35 or Under for co-founding FEED, a social business which donates a portion of each sale to feed children around the world, through giving partners such as the United Nations World Food Programme, UNICEF and Feeding America. This award has been given to politician Bobby Jindal and football player Peyton Manning in past years.

Laysha Ward, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Target, will be present to accept the award for Outstanding Service by a Major Corporation for Target. The Jefferson Awards Foundation continues to recognize Target for its commitment to integrate corporate citizenship into its daily operations, with direct responsibility for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, service and philanthropy and other key reputational strategies.

About the Jefferson Awards
The Jefferson Awards Foundation (JAF) is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service. Through its programs, JAF trains and empowers individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through the organizations vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers. To learn more about the Jefferson Awards Foundation, visit: JeffersonAwards.orgor engage on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

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Nepal Earthquake, GoodWeave, and “Getting Beyond Better”

May 8, 2015 by

In Nepal, where handwoven carpets are the No. 1 export, Skoll Awardee GoodWeave has been tremendously affected. In a new Nonprofit Chronicles story, reporter Marc Gunther writes,”…All of this is a work in progress, and the Nepal earthquake is a reminder that the best-laid plans can be rocked, literally, by forces beyond anyone’s control. A GoodWeave day care center and an office have crumbled. A staff member lost his immediate family. If, in the years ahead, Nepal’s carpet industry collapses, much of the progress made by GoodWeave will be undone. ‘This industry is going to have to be rebuilt, sustainability,’ GoodWeave founding executive director Nina Smith says. ‘Otherwise the buyers are going to go elsewhere.’ That would be terrible not just for the children of Nepal, but for the entire nation.”

Gunther quotes Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg and her “Getting Beyond Better” book coauthor:

“As Sally Osberg and Roger Martin, a foundation director, write in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review: ‘When enough consumers vote with their wallets, retailers and suppliers get the message—and entire systems are forever altered.’ It’s far from an easy solution, though, because it relies on consumers, retailers, suppliers and NGOs to do what governments ought to do–protect children. Try marketing that.”

The article also mentions GoodWeave’s short video, Stand with Sanju, which was Winner of a Stories of Change award from Skoll Foundation and Sundance. The three-minute video depicts the real and triumphant journey of an 11-year-old girl named Sanju.

Read the rest: and how you can help GoodWeave and other Skoll Awardees affected by the earthquake:





Sally Osberg, Roger Martin on Stamina and Tough-Minded Optimism

May 4, 2015 by

At the Skoll World Forum last month, Jeff Kehoe of the Harvard Business Review Press led a conversation about how social entrepreneurs are transforming society’s unjust equilibria.

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg and strategy guru Roger Martin talked about their upcoming bookGetting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.

As Osberg explained: “Social entrepreneurs attack systems and equilibria in society that are stuck in place and desperately in need of change.” Martin added that the book aims to extend the knowledge of social entrepreneurs to provide models for their peers; and to make it easier for funders and stakeholders to understand and identify social entrepreneurs, increasing investment in the sector.

“The real challenge today is summoning the body of evidence that shows us what social entrepreneurship is getting done in the world,” said Osberg. “This will give more leverage and impetus for us to track this wave and prove to governments and businesses what is possible.”

Martin spoke of the tensions that social entrepreneurs have to deal with. “You have to abhor the current situation and understand how to change it. You’re an expert, but also an apprentice. You have to both experiment and commit.” read more


Sally Osberg & Roger L. Martin: “Two Keys to Sustainable Social Enterprise” in Harvard Business Review

April 27, 2015 by

Sally Osberg and Roger L. Martin, who have a new book coming out in October, just wrote a new article in the May 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review. Their new book, “Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works,” sets forth a bold new framework demonstrating how and why meaningful change actually happens in the world, and providing concrete lessons and a practical model for businesses, policymakers and civil society organizations. Here is an excerpt from the HBR article, now online:

“Social entrepreneurship has emerged over the past several decades as a way to identify and bring about potentially transformative societal change. A hybrid of government intervention and pure business entrepreneurship, social ventures can address problems that are too narrow in scope to spark legislative activism or to attract private capital.

To succeed, these ventures must adhere to both social goals and stiff financial constraints. Typically, the aim is to benefit a specific group of people, permanently transforming their lives by altering a prevailing socioeconomic equilibrium that works to their disadvantage. Sometimes, as with environmental entrepreneurship, the benefit may be extended to a broader group once the project has provided proof of concept. But more often the benefit’s target is an economically disadvantaged or marginalized segment of society that doesn’t have the means to transform its social or economic prospects without help. The endeavor must also be financially sustainable. Otherwise the new socioeconomic equilibrium will require a constant flow of subsidies from taxpayers or charitable givers, which are difficult to guarantee indefinitely. To achieve sustainability, an enterprise’s costs should fall as the number of its beneficiaries rises, allowing the venture to reduce its dependence on philanthropic or governmental support as it grows.”

Read the rest, and pre-order “Getting Beyond Better.”




Skoll Awards Ceremony 2015 Highlights

April 17, 2015 by

There is no better way to open an Awards Ceremony than with the Soweto Gospel Choir dancing down the aisles.

So began the 2015 Skoll Awards Ceremony.

Yesterday, Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg led the community on a journey, back 800 years, to the Magna Carta. This charter for personal liberties “stoked the early embers of freedom,” and the blaze caught around the world. As Sally said, “Then, as now, the driving force for change was the quintessentially human drive to set things right.” We saw this drive in each of the four 2015 Skoll Awardees.

Jagdeesh Rao Puppala demonstrated how the work of the Foundation for Ecological Security is about much more than simply helping people manage their forests, pastures, and water. Even skeptics within villages came to see the value of Commons—a farmer found that improved vegetation in the Commons led to better crop productivity in his own land; a widower’s daughter was able to use the fodder from the village pasture to feed the family bulls, freeing up hours of every day and allowing her to go back to school. “What we saw as a simple planting of trees was a larger story of how people connected economically, socially, and emotionally to the Commons,” he said.

Alasdair Harris introduced us to the “not-so-small-scale” fishers, the millions of people living along coasts who depend on fisheries for survival. With fish stocks collapsing and where people have no alternative to fishing, people are struggling to find enough to survive. Blue Ventures works with communities to show how taking less from the ocean can actually lead to more, catalyzing locals to protect their own seas. “When sustainable fisheries make real sense for this not-so-small-scale sector, we have a hope of putting conservation in the hands of those with the greatest interest in its success,” he told the crowd.

Safeena Husain shared the story of a Padma, a young woman whose life was transformed when, after escaping an abusive marriage as a girl, she returned to school and ultimately became one the most educated people in her village. Today, Padma works to get girls back to school.

“Padma is an Educate Girls Team Balika, a community volunteer who is shifting the equilibrium in favor of girls’ education,” she said. She is just one of the 4,600 Team Balika members throughout India, working to unlock the transformative power of girls’ education. These passionate catalysts enrolled 80,000 out-of-school girls last year alone, changing norms and convincing villages about the incredible merits of educating girls.

Ma Jun described how pollution in China has reached such a magnitude that it cannot be addressed without extensive public participation. The Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs works to provide citizens with tools to put pressure on major polluters.

IPE’s innovative Blue Map app enables users to access and tweet the records of emitters. This “micro-reporting” has motivated hundreds of major coal and industrial power plants to respond—and the app has now topped 3 million downloads. With such engagement and momentum, Ma Jun looks to expand IPE’s operations and amplify its impact.

A short video about each awardee’s work played just before they went up to stage to receive their awards. Watch them here:

The next recognition was for the Skoll Global Treasure Award. Jeff Skoll honored Graça Machel, “a hero to people all over the world, whose life story is a testament to the power of radical thinking.” Driven by the idea that all people have a right to dignity, Mrs. Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children’s rights.

In a conversation with Camfed founder Ann Cotton, Mrs. Machel explained how justice and human dignity are the threads in her life. Upon seeing the suffering of children in Mozambique and around the world, the protection of children came as a call to amplify their voices. “No one is voiceless. The difference is not everyone has a platform where their voice can be heard.” She told a story about an experience in Tanzania, where after a meeting on FGM and child marriage in the community, a group of girls presented her with a gift. “I’m worried about them, and they come and give me a gift. These children are not giving up, so who am I to give up?”

Graca Machel captured a sentiment that underlies so much of the Skoll World Forum. As Sally Osberg closed, she reminded us that the choices we make and refuse to make will keep us accountable for years to come—and that is what drives us to make the world better.


Jeff Skoll to Receive Arbuckle Award at Stanford Tonight

March 5, 2015 by

Congratulations to our founder and chairman, Jeff Skoll, who will be presented with the Ernest C. Arbuckle Award at Stanford University tonight.

Sponsored annually by the Stanford GSB Alumni Association, the Ernest C. Arbuckle Award recognizes excellence in the field of management leadership. The award was created in 1968 in honor of the late Business School dean whose name it bears. Recipients demonstrate a commitment to both managerial excellence and to addressing the changing needs of society.

Learn more: and watch past videos:


Renee D. Kaplan to Speak on Women in Philanthropy Panel

January 14, 2015 by

If you’re in Seattle, don’t miss Women Leaders in Philanthropy on February 5 at the Harbor Club downtown.

Skoll Foundation Chief Strategy Officer Renee D. Kaplan will speak alongside Sandra Archibald, Dean and Professor, University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs, and Rosario Pérez, President and CEO of Pro Mujer. The panel moderator is Melissa Merritt, Vice President, Waldron. The panel is sponsored by Global Washington, which supports the global development community in Washington state that is working to create a healthier and more equitable world, and Waldron.

“We will hear the candid stories and points of view of three successful women from different areas of the social sector,” Merritt says. “They will describe their journeys to leadership. We will ask them about their biggest barriers or struggles, the importance (or not) of mentorship and from where that should come, generational differences in the desire to lead, whether the concept of “leaning-In” is a myth or real, how to achieve balance and the effect of all this on the state of women in leadership in the future of the sector.”

Merritt formed the group “Women Leaders In Philanthropy” three years ago to provide a peer support group to women coming to Seattle to run organizations as the result of Waldron’s searches. They meet quarterly in round-robin fashion for round table discussions and informal conversation. Some valuable connections and collaborations have come from these gatherings.

To register, visit


Renee Kaplan’s Video Lessons on “Disruption for Social Good”

November 11, 2014 by

Skoll Foundation Chief Strategy Officer Renee D. Kaplan just released a series of short videos called “Disruption for Social Good” on Zana.

Zana is an online platform providing “free access to the resources, experts, and community you need to grow—no matter where or who you are.” Renee’s series takes us through ten topics: Disruption, Innovators, Convergence, Means, Unrestricted, Evaluation, Good Tech, Equilibirum Change, The Story, and Impact.

Here’s an excerpt from Renee’s first lesson, “Disruption: Why the World Needs Social Entrepreneurs”:

“Social entrepreneurship is really different from what people think of non-profit work.  It is more analogous to a entrepreneur to the for-profit space.

They see a problem they want to solve, and they go after it in a way that’s very disruptive. It’s systems disruption; it’s not just doing great work for people, seeing a problem and addressing it intermittently. It’s saying, I am going to crack open this system and I am going to solve it.”

Hear more:

And be sure to read her three top tips (my favorite: Dream big, and be prepared for others to misunderstand you.)



WATCH: Raymond Guthrie’s Water Panel

November 5, 2014 by

Skoll Foundation Principal Raymond Guthrie, who works on our Innovation Investment team, just spoke on the Philanthropist and Funder Panel at the 2014 Water for Food Global Conference. He spoke alongside David Bergvinson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In response to a question, “What areas of water are you looking at investing in and where do you see innovative database solutions?”

Raymond answered, “Our foundation…doesn’t take a sector or a region and look for portfolio.

Our investments stem from our social entrepreneurs. I will give two social entrepreneurs as examples.

Water for People…has an innovation called FLOW that can monitor real-time water points and to ensure water is being served sustainably adn cleanly. They cover 2 million people and 7,000 water points now using mobile technology and geomapping. Another example is One Acre Fund, which works for subsistence farmers in primarily east Africa and partner with governments… and that’s driven by their own data. They spent years finding out what works to… ultimately get the farmers a higher income.”

Watch the rest of the panel above, and learn more about Raymond:


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


Watch Sally Osberg’s Global Philanthropy Forum Leadership Panel

April 25, 2014 by

Yesterday, Skoll Foundation President and CEO moderated a great plenary panel on leadership at the Global Philanthropy Forum conference.  Panelists included Hakeem Belo-Osagie, chair of Etisalat; Peter Eigen, founder of Transparency International, and Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership Academy.

Panelists were very thoughtful, covering topics from how important it is to have people around you who will tell you the truth (even if they disagree with you) to what made them start their organizations (their “tipping point”).

Sally noted that they may not realize it, but that they were all “what we at the Skoll Foundation call social entrepreneurs, not working on the margins, but working to disrupt, to right what’s wrong.”

Earlier in the day, Sally led a very popular working group session called Philanthropy: Busting Myths of Logic and Scale.” Speakers included Chase Adam, co-founder of Watsi; John Kania, managing director of FSG; Paul Niehaus, co-founder of GiveDirectly; and Jeri Eckhart Queenan, head of global development practice at The Bridgespan Group.

Watch the plenary at the video above.


Sally Osberg on Bloomberg TV Talking about SPI Launch

April 8, 2014 by

Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally Osberg appeared on Bloomberg TV’s “Countdown” show this morning, the day’s breaking news in the countdown to the opening of the Euro markets. She discussed the Social Progress Index 2014 launch. Later in the morning, Professor Michael Porter delivered a keynote at Deloitte in London, talking about SPI and the connection between social and economic progress and the opportunities gained if all sectors recognize the importance of both. Sally Osberg joined a  panel to debate how we can use the Index to galvanize collective action to unlock true growth and progress.


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.


Jeff Skoll on the Cover of Forbes Philanthropy Issue + New Article in Guardian Sustainable Business

December 2, 2013 by

Jeff Skoll is on the cover of the Dec. 2 issue of Forbes, on newsstands now. He penned an essay called “On the Power of a Good Story,” which we told you about a few weeks ago. Skoll Awardee Scott Gilmore is featured on page 100, in a piece talking about how he left the United Nations to focus on entrepreneurship instead of aid as a poverty solution. This past weekend he was also featured in Guardian Sustainable Business on a piece focusing on his philanthropy and films.

Learn more about the Forbes piece from the press release:

Forbes’ second annual Philanthropy special issue looks at the most generous givers and how they are changing our world. Last June, at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Forbes brought together 150 billionaires and near-billionaires, plus a handful of leading social entrepreneurs, to discuss disruptive business models in philanthropy. Among those featured on the magazine cover include Bono, Bill Gates, the President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robin Hood Founder Paul Tudor Jones, Microloan pioneer Muhammad YunusDikembe MutomboJeff Skoll and Liesel Pritzker Simmons. read more


Jeff Skoll on 60 Minutes

November 17, 2013 by

Our founder Jeff Skoll was part of a 60 Minutes segment tonight about The Giving Pledge. Charlie Rose talked to Mr. Skoll about some of his films, the Skoll Global Threats Fund, and more. Watch it above.


Sally Osberg led a “deep dive” session on social entrepreneurship at Stanford PACS

September 16, 2013 by

Skoll Foundation CEO Sally Osberg recently spoke at the Stanford PACS (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society), Philanthropy Innovation Summit, a forum for philanthropists to “illuminate, innovate and inspire their giving through learning from both peers and experts in the philanthropic field.”

Sally led a “deep dive” session on social entrepreneurship, which attracted an overflow crowd of conference delegates. Her opening remarks included the vision and mission of the Skoll Foundation, our focus areas, and case studies about Riders for Health and Camfed. She then fielded questions about why philanthropists might want to invest in social entrepreneurs.

Other speakers at the forum included Laurene Powell Jobs, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, CEO Marc Benioff, Ben Horowitz of Andreesen Horowitz and Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter.

Learn more at


Sally Osberg and Jeff Skoll’s Op-Ed on Social Entrepreneurs Dare to Change the World

September 7, 2013 by

Today, Skoll Foundation Founder Jeff Skoll and CEO Sally Osberg wrote the first in a new series on, called “Social entrepreneurs dare to change the world.”

An excerpt:

“Motorcycle racer Andrea Coleman and her journalist husband, Barry Coleman, couldn’t forget what they saw during a trip to Somalia in 1986: hemorrhaging patients being carted to clinics in wheelbarrows, rusting vehicles abandoned by the side of the road, community health workers making their rounds by foot.

What all this signaled to the Colemans was a delivery system in deep disarray. It wasn’t simply the medical supplies that were lacking — vaccines, for example, or bed nets — but more mundane basics such as oil filters and lug nuts, along with the mechanics and maintenance protocols required to ensure transport that was fully functional.

As racers, the Colemans knew what it would take to build such a system. Upon returning to England, they got cracking, eventually mortgaging their house to found Riders for Health.

From food insecurity to lack of access to health care to growing environmental threats — if we’re going to solve the world’s most pressing problems, we need social entrepreneurs like the Colemans every bit as much as we need great institutions and great global leaders.”

Read the rest:


Sally Osberg, Mitch Besser: How Skoll is Doubling Down on the Mentor Mother Innovation

July 25, 2012 by

Our CEO, Sally Osberg, and mothers2mothers’ Dr. Mitch Besser just wrote a Huffington Post piece called, “Born Free: Delivering on the Promise of the Global Plan Towards EMTCT.” (Eliminate Mother to Child Transmission). It’s particularly relevant right now because just yesterday, a panel at the International AIDS Society conference reported on the Global Plan’s progress.

An excerpt:

“We think of innovations as new technologies, but in healthcare, innovations are often as simple as a pregnant woman with HIV talking with a similarly-affected peer who has successfully navigated the treatment process. m2m employs mothers living with HIV in hospitals and clinics. Called Mentor Mothers, they assist overburdened doctors and nurses with education and psychosocial support, ensuring that pregnant women and new mothers understand how to care for themselves and their babies. Mentor Mothers promote adherence to medical treatment, birth control, vaccination schedules for babies and breastfeeding. As employed women living with HIV, Mentor Mothers are role models who help overcome the stigma of an HIV diagnosis.”

Read the rest:


Huffington Post: An In-depth Interview With Sally Osberg, President And CEO Of The Skoll Foundation

March 22, 2011 by

In advance of the 2011 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, Rahim Kanani, Editor-in-Chief, World Affairs Commentary, conducted an in-depth interview with Sally Osberg, president and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, on the evolution of the organization and their efforts, the intersection between social entrepreneurship and international development, future challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and much more. This interview is one in a Special Advanced Interview Series conducted with Skoll World Forum delegates by Kanani. read more


Sally Osberg on Conscious Capitalism at the Global Competitiveness Forum

March 9, 2011 by

On January 24, 2011, Sally Osberg spoke in at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Conscious Capitalism and Unleashing Social Competitiveness. Video of her presentation and her presentation slides are now available.

Conscious Capitalism Session Description:

Conscious Leaders are motivated by the desire to discover a company’s deeper purpose, rather than by personal gain. They focus on delivering value to all stakeholders, and work to align and harmonize the interests of customers, employees, suppliers, investors, the community, and the environment in as much as possible. Conscious leaders cultivate awareness throughout their business ecosystem, beginning with themselves and their team members, and moving into their relationships with each other and other stakeholders.

  • The end of business as usual
  • Toward a harmony of interests
  • The tragedy of public distrust
  • Profiting from passion and purpose
  • Conscious capitalism in an economic downturn

© 2015 Skoll Foundation.