PALO ALTO, California, March 11 /PRNewswire/ --

- Unrestricted Grants to Allow Each Organization to Expand its Impact to Achieve Sustainable Change

The Skoll Foundation today announced Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship for 11 organizations working around the world in the areas of tolerance and human rights, health, environmental sustainability, peace and security, and economic and social equity. The recipients, who will each receive three-year grants of US$1,000,000, join a growing global network of Skoll social entrepreneurs, now numbering 59, who have created innovative, proven solutions for tackling the world's most urgent social and economic challenges.

The Skoll Awards program is the foundation's flagship investment initiative. It provides social entrepreneurs, whose models for sustainable change have already yielded significant impact, with unrestricted funding to scale their programs and amplify their reach across regions, countries and continents. This newest group of Skoll entrepreneurs has demonstrated measurable impact across a variety of issues and geographies, including:

-- providing some of the world's most destitute populations with access to modern, high quality health care; -- training indigenous tribes in the Amazon to use technology to protect millions of acres of rainforest; -- using the Internet to connect individual donors in the global North with entrepreneurs in the global South; -- empowering women in Africa with HIV/AIDS to mentor pregnant women and new mothers with the disease, to ensure a healthy and productive life.

"We know solutions exist around the world that have transformed millions of lives, in a sustainable way, across education, health, environmental and other social systems," commented Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation. "We think the new Skoll social entrepreneurs represent some of the best, most innovative, of those solutions, and bring an exciting new level of energy and creativity to our portfolio." Osberg added, "These remarkable individuals and their tireless teams are tackling issues that require our most immediate attention. And most importantly, the models they have developed have the potential for vastly increased impact."

The 11 organizations receiving the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship are: Amazon Conservation Team, American Council on Renewable Energy, Arzu, Digital Divide Data, Half the Sky Foundation, KIVA, mothers2mothers, Partners in Health, PeaceWorks Foundation, Population and Community Development Association, and Visayan Forum Foundation.

Lance Henderson, Vice President of Programs & Impact for the Skoll Foundation, noted, "We were extremely impressed with the most recent pool of applicants. Both the nature of the innovations and the degree to which those innovations are effecting positive change are indicative of how the field of social entrepreneurship continues to grow and mature."

The Skoll Awards will be presented by Skoll Foundation Chairman Jeff Skoll, Skoll Foundation President and CEO, Sally Osberg and special guest, former President Jimmy Carter, on March 27 at the fifth annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford in England. The Skoll World Forum convenes a global community of outstanding practitioners and thought leaders in social entrepreneurship to set the future agenda for visionaries who want to transform society.

The Skoll Foundation accepts applications and grants awards on a year-round basis through an open competitive process, with new award winners celebrated once each year in March at the annual Skoll World Forum. The application deadlines remaining in 2008 are March 18, August 5 and November 4. More information about the Skoll Awards can be found at

THE SKOLL AWARDEES IN DETAIL Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) - Mark Plotkin, an ethnobotonist, and Liliana Madrigal, a conservationist and crusader for indigenous rights, created ACT in 1996 to preserve the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and develop their capacity to provide enduring protection of their rainforest home. Mark and Liliana have shown that, given the opportunity and training, indigenous people are the most reliable stewards of their own territory. Since its inception, ACT has mapped and provided land management for 40 million acres of Amazon rainforest and anticipates reaching 80 million acres in three years. Its programs have benefited 26 indigenous groups across Brazil, Columbia and Suriname. ACT is headquartered in Arlington, VA.

American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) - Michael Eckhart first understood the promise of renewable energy in the 1970s when he did pioneering energy studies under funding by the Carter White House. In 2001, Michael and others founded the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) to establish an "all renewable" organization for the U.S. ACORE seeks to bring together all renewable energy industries to create a new power base that speaks with one voice and has the strength, influence and research needed to match the power of organizations representing traditional carbon-based industries. ACORE's goal is to have 25 percent of U.S. electricity and fuels come from renewable sources by 2025. By 2011, it plans to increase membership from 500 to 1,000 organizations. ACORE is headquartered in Washington D.C.

Arzu - Connie Duckworth made history as the first female sales and trading partner at Goldman, Sachs & Company. A longtime women's advocate, she visited Afghanistan and was shocked by the hardships the women faced. There are few countries in greater need of development than Afghanistan and few countries where the women are less empowered. In 2004, Connie founded Arzu to help female rug weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them with above-market compensation for their rugs and access to health care. In exchange, they send all their children under 15 to school full time and all women in their home attend literacy classes. Arzu now supports 700 weavers and aids more than 2,100 individuals through its core program, making it one of the largest private employers in Afghanistan. By 2011, Arzu plans to double the population it assists. Arzu is headquartered in Chicago, IL.

Digital Divide Data (DDD) - On a 2001 vacation, Jeremy Hockenstein was struck by Cambodia's juxtaposition of extreme poverty with emerging technology. He created Digital Divide Data to break Southeast Asia's cycle of poverty by providing high-quality technology services to the global market. Mai Siriphongphanh recognized the potential of DDD and brought her social entrepreneurial savvy to the team in 2003. Founded upon an innovative and sustainable work/study model, DDD offers excellent wages and educational benefits to disadvantaged segments of Lao and Cambodian populations, enabling them to accelerate the development of local IT industries and equipping them for better futures. In addition to salary, workers' educations are subsidized by matching scholarships from DDD. Growing rapidly, having impacted 7,000 people already and generated US$14 million in increased wages, DDD is shaping a new corps of leaders empowered to shepherd their countries' development. DDD is headquartered in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Half the Sky Foundation (HTS) - Jenny Bowen learned first-hand the devastating effects of institutionalization of children when she and her husband adopted a toddler from a Chinese orphanage who was severely under-developed. In time, her new family's loving attention enabled their daughter to blossom, and the idea for Half the Sky was born. HTS establishes and operates infant nurture and preschool programs, provides personalized learning for older children and establishes permanent family care and guidance for children with disabilities. It works in 38 state-run orphanages across China, and, in 2007, was invited by the Chinese government to expand its model to 300 institutions and beyond. It now has 4,000 children in its programs at any given time. HTS's long-term strategy is for local governments in China to operate the life-changing programs themselves. Half the Sky is headquartered in Beijing, China.

KIVA - After seeing first-hand in East Africa how a small loan could change the life of an entrepreneur in the developing world, Matt Flannery co-founded in 2005 with his wife Jessica, to enable individuals to loan as little as US$25 to emerging businesses. Premal Shah joined Kiva as its President to help scale the idea. Kiva enables a world where people separated by long distances can connect through lending for the purpose of alleviating poverty, while also promoting strong, persistent interpersonal connections that improve cross-cultural understanding. Kiva's unique model provides debt to mid- and small-sized Microfinance Institutions, offering the chance to extend coverage to new populations outside the reach of larger institutions. In its first three years, over 148,000 internet lenders made US$22 million in loans to 33,000 entrepreneurs in 40 developing countries. Kiva aims to scale to one million internet lenders and over US$100 million in loans by 2010. Kiva is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

mothers2mothers - Long-time friends Mitch Besser, a physician and medical researcher, and Gene Falk, a media executive and AIDS activist, established mothers2mothers after seeing the absence of care for pregnant women in South Africa newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. They discovered that 30 to 40 percent of these women gave birth to HIV-positive babies, even though mother to child transmission treatments have virtually eliminated pediatric AIDS in the developed world. M2m is a grass-roots program designed for under-resourced health care systems that trains and employs new mothers with HIV to provide education and support to their peers, empowering them to access lifesaving treatment for their babies and themselves. Currently operating in 160 locations in four countries, mothers2mothers aims to support over 3.6 million women and children in more than 11 nations by 2011. Mothers2mothers is headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa.

Partners in Health - When Paul Farmer founded Partners in Health in 1987, he wanted to prove that cost-effective, high-quality health care could be delivered in hopeless contexts. Focused on health care as a fundamental human right and believing in the power and potential of community-based healthcare systems, Paul and his team developed a highly effective model, first in Haiti with its "accompagnateur" model, that has gone on to change World Health Organization (WHO) policy. The program has grown from 60,000 patient visits in 2001 to 1.7 million in 2006. Partners in Health now operates in seven countries worldwide and expects to disseminate its model more broadly in the coming years.

PeaceWorks Foundation - The son of a Mexican Jew and a Holocaust survivor, Daniel Lubetzky began advocating and fostering entrepreneurial joint ventures between Arabs and Israelis in 1989 to bring stability to the Middle East through economic cooperation. He then founded the PeaceWorks Foundation in 2002 to encourage political moderates to build a new movement to unite for peace in the Middle East. The foundation's OneVoice Movement reframes the debate into one that positions the vast majority - composed of moderates from both sides - against violent extremism. One Voice has trained 3,100 Palestinian and Israeli youth leaders and recruited more than 650,000 signatories to demand immediate uninterrupted negotiations towards the conclusion of a peace agreement. The PeaceWorks Foundation is headquartered in New York.

Population and Community Development Association (PDA) - As a young economist working for the government in Thailand, Mechai Viravaidya saw a link between rapid population growth and poverty. He launched the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) in 1974 to distribute contraceptives and introduce sex education in rural communities and schools. The population growth rate dropped from 3.2 percent in 1974 to 0.5 percent in 2005. In the early 1990s, when HIV/AIDS hit Thailand, Mechai harnessed the PDA network and media and launched an aggressive public education campaign. Within 10 years Thailand was able to reduce HIV infections by 90 percent. The organization has enlisted private partners in over 450 Village Development Partnership programs that enable the poor to generate income without having to migrate to cities. By 2011, PDA plans to expand the Partnership program to at least 100 more villages. PDA is headquartered in Bangkok, Thailand.

Visayan Forum Foundation - As a child in the Philippines, Cecilia Flores-Oebanda helped her family survive by selling fish and scavenging garbage. As freedom-fighters against the Marcos dictatorship, she and her husband were imprisoned for four years and separated from their oldest son. Their two other children were born in detention. After democracy prevailed, Cecilia founded the Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF) in 1991 to eliminate human trafficking through public-private partnerships that rescue, protect and reintegrate victims. The organization has served 18,500 victims and potential victims to date and has filed 66 legal cases on behalf of 166 complainants. By 2011, VFF plans to expand its multi-sectoral networks and expand its program against human trafficking. The Visayan Forum Foundation is headquartered in Manila, Philippines.

About the Skoll Foundation

The Skoll Foundation was created in 1999 by eBay's first president, Jeff Skoll, to promote his vision of a more peaceful and prosperous world. Today the Skoll Foundation advances systemic change to benefit communities around the world by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs - individuals dedicated to innovative, bottom-up solutions that transform unequal and unjust social, environmental and economic systems.

The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship is the foundation's flagship program. There are currently 50 organizations represented by 59 remarkable social entrepreneurs in the program, working individually and together across regions, countries and continents to evolve the field of social entrepreneurship into a global movement for social change. The Skoll Foundation connects social entrepreneurs and other partners in the field via an online community at, and through the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. The foundation also celebrates social entrepreneurs by telling their stories through partnerships with the PBS Foundation and the Sundance Institute, with the goal of promoting large-scale public awareness of social entrepreneurship.

For more information, visit

Web site:

Bruce Lowry of the Skoll Foundation, +1-650-331-1020,; or Julie Jacobs, +1-212-579-9071,, for the Skoll Foundation