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The Skoll Foundation is a private foundation based in Palo Alto, California, with a mission to drive large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and other innovators dedicated to solving the world's most pressing problems. It makes grants totaling about $40 million each year. The foundation invests in social entrepreneurs through its signature Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship, and through partnerships with and support of organizations and agencies important to social entrepreneurship networks and ecosystems. It connects social entrepreneurs through support of events including the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, convenings, and online content platforms. It celebrates social entrepreneurs through media projects such as short films and partnerships with other media outlets, including The Sundance Institute, NPR, PBS, Public Radio International, and HarperCollins. Its founder is Jeff Skoll who was the first employee and first president of eBay.[2]

Skoll Foundation
TypePrivate foundation and Supporting organization
HeadquartersPalo Alto, CA, United States
Key people
Revenue (2016)
Expenses (2016)$49,522,726[1]



Jeff Skoll created the foundation in 1999 as a supporting organization (The Skoll Fund) at the Community Foundation of Silicon Valley (now Silicon Valley Community Foundation).[3] In late 2003 Skoll established the private Skoll Foundation. The two entities, which have distinct governing bodies but share staff and offices, together operate the foundation's grantmaking and other programs.[4] Sally Osberg, former President and CEO, joined the foundation in 2001 and is the co-author, with Roger Martin, of Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works.[5] She has been named as one of the social sector's 50 most influential leaders by The Nonprofit Times.[2] In 2018, Richard Fahey assumed the role of Interim President after 14 years of executive leadership at the foundation.

The foundation, which moved to its Palo Alto headquarters in 2004, also collaborates closely with the Skoll Global Threats Fund, established in 2009, to address climate change, pandemics, water security, nuclear proliferation, and conflict in the Middle East. Some of the Global Threats Fund's recent initiatives supported by the Skoll Foundation have included an app, developed in partnership with the Brazilian Ministry of Health, that allowed monitoring of health conditions and potential infection by the Zika virus during the 2016 Olympics;[6] supporting surveillance technologies that identify epidemics at their earliest outbreak;[7] and development of an online tool that will help policymakers identify global water risk and food security hot spots.[8]

The Skoll Awards for Social EntrepreneurshipEdit

Each year, the Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship to leaders and organizations who have demonstrated and proven innovations that are disrupting an unjust and unsustainable status quo and contributing to solving some of the world's most pressing problems. More than 100 organizations have received Skoll Awards since the program was launched in 2005. In 2017 the Skoll award for Social Entrepreneurship was awarded to 4 organizations: Babban Gona, a social enterprise serving smallholder farmers with a model created specifically to attract youth to agriculture and away from the looming instability of extremist groups; Build Change, a nonprofit training homeowners, local builders, engineers, and governments to construct disaster-resistant buildings in areas vulnerable to earthquakes and typhoons; Last Mile Health, which partners with governments to deploy and manage networks of community health professionals working in the most remote communities and Polaris, which combats human trafficking, and intervenes in specific industries with a coordinated data-centric approach to outreach and advocacy[9] In 2016, four organizations received Awards:[10] Namati, which works to protect community lands, enforce environmental law, and secure basic rights to health care and citizenship around the world; Videre, which gives local activists equipment, training, and the support needed to safely capture footage of human rights violations and distributes the results strategically with the aim of influencing media, political leaders, and courts; Breakthrough, which mobilizes communities to disavow discrimination and violence against women through the use of popular media, leadership training, and advocacy; Living Goods; which works to support networks of village health entrepreneurs who go door-to-door teaching families better health practices while selling basic health products; and the Equal Justice Initiative, which seeks to reform the criminal justice system and secure freedom for those unjustly imprisoned in the United States. In 2015, Awardees included Blue Ventures, which works with fishermen to create sustainable fisheries that protect ocean life while still supporting people's livelihoods; China's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, which creates tools that allow individuals and companies to monitor the effects of Chinese factories on the environment; Educate Girls, which creates programs and builds community partnerships to help keep girls in school in rural India; and the Foundation for Ecological Security, which helps rural communities in India protect common land.[11]

The Skoll Foundation accepts nominations from its network of partners but doesn't accept unsolicited nominations for its annual Skoll Awards. It seeks out disruptors whose models have potential to achieve impact at scale, who can collaborate within their ecosystem, and whose social mission is aligned with their vision. Awardees receive $1.25 million in funding, support growing their enterprise for three years, and membership to the global community of Skoll Award recipients.[12]

Skoll World Forum on Social EntrepreneurshipEdit

The annual Skoll World Forum convenes delegates from the social, finance, private and public sectors at the Said Business School at Oxford University for discussions focused on innovating, accelerating, and scaling solutions to social challenges.[13][14][15] Notable participants over the years have included Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan, Graca Machel, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore.

The event's mission is to "accelerate the impact of the world's leading social entrepreneurs by uniting them with essential partners in a collaborative pursuit of learning, leverage and large-scale social change," and the event is designed to shine "a spotlight on best practices, new innovations and connecting leaders to one another to further global social progress." Media coverage of recent Forums is included in the External Links section.

Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford UniversityEdit

In November 2003, the Skoll Foundation donated £4.4m to the Saïd Business School of Oxford University for the creation of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship. The center committed to establish a new master's of business curriculum degree to advance the field and knowledge of social entrepreneurship worldwide. The grant also funded an endowed lectureship, program director, student fellowships (five scholarships to MBA students per year who focused on studying how entrepreneurial strategies effect social change), visiting fellows, and an annual World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.[4] The Skoll Centre's research ranges across three main topic areas identified by practitioners as of key importance: governance; resources; impact. In each area, a variety of scholarly work is being undertaken. This is disseminated in both applied working paper formats and in peer-reviewed academic books and journals.


As of 2016 the Skoll Foundation had assets of $580,230,769.[1]

Funding detailsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Skoll Foundation" (PDF). Skoll Foundation. 31 December 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b Nonprofit Times (PDF). August 2015 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Silicon Valley Community Foundation". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Stanford Graduate School of Business, Case Study No. SI-67, retrieved February 17, 2017, at
  5. ^ Osberg, Sally R. and Roger L. Martin (2015) Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works. Harvard Business Review Press, Watertown, MA.
  6. ^ Huffington Post. July 20, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Inside Philanthropy. August 5, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Huffington Post. July 29, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship". B the Change. March 28, 2017. Retrieved May 3, 2017.
  10. ^ Philanthropy News Digest. April 12, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Chronicle of Philanthropy. April 13, 2015 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Entrepreneur. June 30, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Pioneers Post. April 14, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Forbes. April 17, 2014 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Financial Times. May 77, 2016 Retrieved February 17, 2017. Check date values in: |date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit