Skoll Foundation

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Skoll Foundation
Skoll Foundation Logo.jpg
Founded 1999[1]
Founder Jeff Skoll[1]
Type private foundation
Key people
  • Sally R. Osberg (President and CEO)
  • Richard Fahee (Chief Operating Officer)
  • Renee D. Kaplan (Chief Strategy Officer, Integrated Programs)

The Skoll Foundation is a social entrepreneurship 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 invests in social entrepreneurs through its annual 'Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship' and makes grants to support the ecosystem around social entrepreneurs, including the 'Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship' at Oxford. It connects social entrepreneurs through the annual 'Skoll World Forum' on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford, as well as the online content platform of the Skoll World Forum. It celebrates social entrepreneurs through media projects such as its 'Uncommon Heroes' short films; a four-part 'New Heroes' public television documentary (broadcast in 2004); partnerships with other media outlets, including The Sundance Institute, NPR, PBS and Public Radio International; and the Skoll Awards ceremony at the Skoll World Forum each spring. It was founded by Jeff Skoll who was the first employee and first president of eBay and makes grants in excess of $40m per year.[citation needed]


The organisation was created in 1999 by Jeff Skoll.[1]

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 in order to promote the advancement of social entrepreneurship worldwide. In addition to delivering an innovative teaching programme, the Skoll Centre has developed a portfolio of research which employs theory but that is also valuable to practitioners in the field. The Centre acts as a network hub for social entrepreneurship, linking together key actors in the sector and contributing towards creating new and effective partnerships for sustainable social change. It engages in social innovation and aims to have a decisive influence on policy.[citation needed]

Research at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship[edit]

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.

International Forum on Social Entrepreneurship[edit]

In the last week of May 2007, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, based at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, and the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship at Zhejiang University in China, jointly organised an International Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, which represents a first step in building ongoing links between Asian and western social entrepreneurship. "This Forum provided a venue for leading academics, policy-makers, and social entrepreneurs in China and other Asian countries to report on their work, share knowledge about best practices, and focus a research agenda," said Dr Alex Nicholls.

International Conference on Social Entrepreneurship in India[edit]

The conference was organised by UnLtd India in conjunction with the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and NMIMS in 2006. The main objective of the conference was to promote and accelerate the development of social entrepreneurship in India. They achieved this by:

  • Celebrating social entrepreneurship as a tool for social change
  • Highlighting the developments in the field of social entrepreneurship in India and globally
  • Providing practical skills and knowledge that can be employed in the field
  • Creating links between social entrepreneurs and other stakeholders in India and internationally.

Over the course of three days the conference was attended by 85 organisations from India and Europe.

Education at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship[edit]

Skoll Scholarships[edit]

Each year, the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship awards five full scholarships to individuals working in the field who wish to enter the one-year full-time MBA programme. Each scholarship covers all the fees for the course, as well as providing an allowance for living expenses and travel. Skoll Scholars usually have a strong track record in social entrepreneurship and intend to return to work in this sector after their studies. They take all the social entrepreneurship elements of the MBA, which comprise three eightweek modules and two major social business projects designed to positively impact a specific social problem. This amounts to approximately one-third of the whole MBA course content. To be considered for a Skoll scholarship, candidates need to provide evidence of the personal qualities strongly correlated with social entrepreneurship, such as persistence in pursuit of a social benefit goal; willingness to face failure and start again; a bias towards action rather than reflection; a tendency to explore the environment for opportunities and resources; a willingness to take personal, and sometimes financial, risks; and a habit of developing a network and exploiting its members. In addition, candidates need to demonstrate how a business education can contribute to the wider development or the local community or community of interest they work with in the social entrepreneurship movement. Past winners include Claire Diaz Ortiz of Twitter, Jessica Shortall of Toms Shoes, Keely Stevenson of Bamboo Finance, Faisal Butt, and Grace Sai of The Hub Singapore.

The Skoll Awards[edit]

Each year, the Skoll Foundation presents the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship. Awardees are chosen from a select group of social entrepreneurs whose "proven innovations are disrupting an unjust and unsustainable status quo and have demonstrated impact on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems."[4]

Awardees are selected for their work in one or more of the following issue categories:

  • Deforestation
  • Education and Economic Opportunity
  • Effective Development
  • Healthcare Access and Treatment
  • Smallholder Productivity and Food Security
  • Peace and Human Security
  • Sustainable Markets
  • Water and Sanitation

Skoll Awards criteria & eligibility[edit]

Potential recipients are evaluated against six criteria: social entrepreneur; issue area; innovation; impact potential; collaboration; and Skoll leverage.[5]

Award recipients typically exhibit many of the following characteristics

  • Led by a visionary, effective social entrepreneur serving as a spokesperson for their issue area
  • Strong leadership team and board
  • Clear focus on mission
  • Sound business model, scalable for impact
  • Strong, strategic partnerships
  • Commitment to measurement, evaluation, and learning
  • Diversified and mission-aligned funding sources

To be eligible for an award, an organization must be legally incorporated, or be able to submit qualifying documentation.

The selection process for the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is very competitive, as there are fewer than 10 awards given each year.

Skoll World Forum[edit]

The Skoll World Forum is an annual event and year-round online platform.[citation needed]

Skoll World Forum (event)[edit]

This annual event sees delegates from the social, finance, private and public sectors gather in Oxford, England, for an event "aimed at innovating, accelerating and scaling solutions to social challenges."[6]

Past participants in the event include Malala Yousafzai, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Sir Richard Branson and Al Gore.

The Skoll World Forum 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," [7] 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."[7]

Skoll World Forum Online[edit]

The online platform for the Skoll World Forum includes news and information resources regarding social entrepreneurship and the issue focus areas for the Forum, including deforestation, education and economic opportunity, healthcare access and treatment, and more. The platform is designed to be interactive, so that visitors can engage with leading thinkers and practitioners of social change and social entrepreneurship. The Forum also collaborates with media and content partners to create and feature a range of community members and voices. The online resources include past contributors, articles and other original content. Online users can also watch video recordings of past event sessions, and stream select sessions live during each year's event.

Similar resources[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "About". Skoll Foundation. 
  2. ^ "Contact". Skoll Foundation. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ "Staff". Skoll Foundation. Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  4. ^ "Skoll Awards/About". Skoll Foundation. 
  5. ^ "Skoll Awards/About". Skoll Foundation. 
  6. ^ "Skoll World Forum (event)/About". Skoll World Forum. 
  7. ^ a b "Skoll World Forum mission". Skoll World Forum. 

External links[edit]