Skoll Honors Social Entrepreneurs

#SkollWF Spotlights 2024 Social Innovation Award Recipients

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StartingUpGood Magazine

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Explore additional insights from our comprehensive conference coverage of the 2024 Skoll World Forum.

The Skoll World Forum celebrated the work of four high social impact organizations and their entrepreneurial leaders at its annual Skoll Awards for Social Innovation ceremony last week. The ceremony amplified stories of innovation, disruption, and a shared vision of a better world, and featured author and activist Eddie Ndopu and musician Nile Rodgers.

This year’s recipients — who also receive $2 million in unrestricted funding — included:

2024 Skoll World Forum

ILLUMINATIVE

Illuminative is an organization focused on transforming the narrative surrounding Native Americans in the United States. Established as a reaction to the pervasive invisibility and misunderstanding of Native American communities, Illuminative aims to correct toxic stereotypes and false narratives often propagated by non-Native sources. Through extensive research, the organization has discovered significant gaps in American knowledge and education about Native Americans, with findings showing that a majority of Americans know little to nothing about Native American communities and that most schools do not teach about Native Americans past the year 1900.

Illuminative operates at the intersection of research and community organizing to tackle detrimental stereotypes and promote authentic Indigenous representation. One of their main efforts is the Pop Culture Media program, which engages directly with Hollywood and the media industry — critical areas given their global influence on perceptions and narratives. Illuminative’s work includes educating major studios and supporting the rise of Native creatives, ensuring that Indigenous stories are told by Indigenous people themselves.

Additionally, Illuminative engages in advocacy and policy influence, exemplified by their role in the renaming of the Washington football team, an effort that highlighted the negative impact of racist mascots on Native communities. The organization also conducts extensive polling and surveys within Native communities to better represent their voices and concerns, fostering a broader understanding and appreciation of Native American cultures and contributions.

Overall, Illuminative is driving what they describe as an Indigenous renaissance in America, building infrastructure and systems to support and empower Native American communities, while actively working to disrupt ongoing erasure and promote a thriving Indigenous presence in all sectors of American life.

You don’t get to tell a story about us without us anymore. — Crystal Echo Hawk

Visit the Illuminative profile page on Skoll.org, watch their awardee video, or check out the organization’s website.

FOOD FOR EDUCATION (F4E)

F4E is an initiative aimed at combating childhood hunger in Kenya, particularly focusing on ensuring that schoolchildren receive nutritious meals to support their educational journey. The program addresses the direct link between hunger and academic performance, recognizing that hungry children struggle to concentrate, participate, and excel in school settings.

Origins and Scale: The program started small, initially feeding 25 children, with aspirations to feed 100. It has grown significantly, now providing meals to over 300,000 children daily. F4E operates large-scale kitchens, with capacities ranging from 10,000 to 60,000 meals.

Technology and Cost-Efficiency: The initiative uses a technology called TAP2EAT, involving a wristband system that parents load with funds via an e-wallet to pay for their children’s meals. This system allows for the provision of meals at a very low cost, making it affordable and accessible.

Impact on Education: Schools participating in the program have reported improved academic performance, with increased attentiveness and participation from students. This transformation highlights the critical role of nutrition in educational success.

Community Involvement and Economic Impact: The program emphasizes local involvement and sustainability. It employs local community members to prepare and distribute the meals, providing many with their first formal job. This approach not only supports the local economy but also ensures the program’s sustainability and acceptance.

Supply Chain and Local Sourcing: F4E works closely with local smallholder farmers, sourcing ingredients directly to ensure freshness and support the local agriculture sector. This also helps to keep costs down and boost the local economy.

Policy and Expansion: Collaborating with the government, F4E aims to expand and institutionalize school feeding programs across Kenya. By working on policies and budgeting, the initiative seeks universal coverage of school meals throughout the country.

Replication and Scaling: The organization has developed a model that can be replicated in new locations, which involves hiring locally, finding local supply chains, and effectively distributing meals. This model allows for scalability and broader implementation of school feeding programs.

Visit the F4E profile page on Skoll.org, watch its awardee video, or check out the organization’s website.

MEEDAN

Meedan is a nonprofit technology organization deeply involved in addressing the complexities and dangers of misinformation in our increasingly digital world. The organization collaborates with a broad spectrum of partners, ranging from grassroots community activists in Sub-Saharan Africa to prominent global media companies such as Reuters, AFP, and AP. Meedan’s work spans across critical areas such as elections, crisis response, and fostering safe, inclusive ecosystems.

At its core, Meedan aims to enhance the reliability and accessibility of information. This goal is pursued through a blend of technology, community building, and research, addressing what they describe as a “technologically embedded” and “wickedly complex” issue. By focusing on these three main verticals — elections, crisis response, and safe and inclusive ecosystems — Meedan seeks to counter the rapid and far-reaching spread of misinformation, which often eclipses factual content in both speed and scope.

One of Meedan’s innovative tools is Check, an open-source software platform that integrates with messaging apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, and Messenger. Check serves as a critical tool in misinformation hotspots, particularly within messaging applications that have become the dominant media form in many countries. These platforms often lack moderation, making them fertile grounds for misinformation. Through Check, organizations can collect queries from their communities and use AI to analyze and make sense of this content. The platform then enables these organizations to distribute verified, accurate information back to the community efficiently.

Meedan’s impact was notably demonstrated during the 2022 Brazil elections. The organization collaborated with local fact-checking partners to deploy a chatbot on Instagram, directly countering misinformation about the electoral process. This tool reached millions of users overnight, illustrating Meedan’s capacity to influence public discourse at critical times.

Beyond just elections, Meedan is also focused on specialized projects like studying gender disinformation during elections. With projects running in countries such as Argentina, Pakistan, and Togo, Meedan seeks to understand the patterns of how gender disinformation spreads. By identifying these trends, they aim to design preemptive strategies to combat such disinformation before it can have a damaging impact.

Looking forward, Meedan is setting its sights on upcoming critical elections in 2024 in the US, India, Mexico, and other countries. This period is particularly significant given the deployment of advanced AI technologies like ChatGPT, which present both new challenges and opportunities in the fight against misinformation. Meedan’s approach combines the power of human collaboration across geographies and languages with sophisticated technological interventions to address global challenges.

Ultimately, Meedan envisions a world where global communities work collaboratively to solve pressing issues. By making information more reliable and accessible, and by empowering people with the knowledge to use this information effectively, Meedan contributes significantly towards a more informed and less divided world.

Visit the Meedan profile page on Skoll.org, watch its awardee video, or check out the organization’s website.

SAVELIFE FOUNDATION

SaveLIFE Foundation is an organization born from personal tragedy and driven by a commitment to transform public health and safety standards in India, particularly focusing on road safety. Founded after the founder’s cousin died in a road accident due to a lack of prompt assistance, SaveLIFE has been pivotal in redefining the approach to road safety and emergency response across India.

The foundation’s work is guided by a deep understanding of the systemic issues contributing to road accidents, which include inadequate road infrastructure, poor vehicle safety standards, risky driver behaviors, and insufficient trauma care. SaveLIFE not only identifies these issues but also works on multiple fronts to address them through education, legal reform, and direct intervention.

A significant achievement of SaveLIFE is its instrumental role in the establishment of the Good Samaritan Law in India, which protects bystanders who come forward to help accident victims from legal and procedural repercussions. This law was a response to a prevalent fear among the public that assisting accident victims could lead to legal trouble, which often dissuaded people from providing crucial immediate help.

Beyond legal advocacy, SaveLIFE engages in extensive research and community outreach to understand and mitigate the factors leading to road accidents. They provide training in basic trauma life support to police and civilians, enhancing the first response capabilities which are often critical in saving lives. Their efforts extend to advocating for comprehensive road safety laws that address all aspects of road safety from preventive measures to post-accident care.

One of SaveLIFE’s flagship initiatives is the Zero Fatality Corridor, a project aimed at drastically reducing road fatalities along specific high-risk road corridors through targeted interventions. These interventions are data-driven, based on detailed analyses of accident hotspots and the factors contributing to these accidents. The organization works with multiple stakeholders including government bodies, local communities, and the health department to implement solutions like road redesign, optimization of ambulance services, and improved traffic management.

The impact of their work is substantial. Starting with a focus on the Bombay-Pune Expressway, the program has expanded to influence road safety practices on more than 20 highways across 15 states. By bringing together diverse stakeholders such as political leaders, bureaucracy, judiciary, media, and ordinary citizens, SaveLIFE fosters a collaborative approach to road safety, ensuring that solutions are comprehensive and sustainable.

Through its holistic and inclusive approach, SaveLIFE Foundation not only addresses the immediate impacts of road accidents but also works towards long-term systemic changes that will improve road safety and public health across India. Their work demonstrates a scalable model for developing countries facing similar challenges, making a profound difference in how road safety issues are addressed on a national and potentially international scale. The organization’s ongoing efforts are a testament to the power of combining grassroots activism with strategic advocacy to create safer, more resilient communities.

Visit the SaveLIFE Foundation profile page on Skoll.org, watch its awardee video, or check out the organization’s website.

Learn more about the Skoll Awards for Social Innovation

Each year, the Skoll Foundation honors a select group with the Skoll Awards for Social Innovation, recognizing those who tackle the root causes of critical societal issues poised for transformative change. Social innovation, as defined by the Foundation, involves addressing societal challenges with unique or redefined solutions that lead to sustainable and systemic change.

The Skoll Awards aim to spotlight work that has not only made a significant impact on some of the world’s most pressing problems but also holds the potential to catalyze transformative social change. By focusing on innovations that are ready for system-wide influence, the Awards seek to expand the impact and reach of global social change leaders.

Awardees can be legally incorporated as nonprofits, for-profits, or as hybrid structures. The Skoll Foundation focuses on five priority systems: pandemics and health systems strengthening, effective governance, inclusive economies, racial justice, and climate action. It evaluates organizations based on their:

  1. Potential for change
  2. Ability to deliver on its vision
  3. Impact record
  4. Inflection point
  5. Proximity to the work and equity
  6. The ability for Skoll make a difference through collaboration

Our StartingUpGood team believes that events and conferences are great places to learn, share ideas, and innovate. We are committed to using our innovative tech tools to share key insights and learnings from top conferences. This article uses Otter.ai to create transcripts and various LLMs to generate content summaries. All work is hand-checked for quality.

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StartingUpGood
StartingUpGood Magazine

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