$10 Million For Social Impact Entertainment

November 12, 2014       Mark Hrywna      

UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT) today unveiled the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment. The center, which is dedicated to promoting social change through entertainment and performing arts, is the result of a $10-million gift by Jeff Skoll, social entrepreneur and founder of Participant Media.

The center’s work will focus on research, education and special initiatives, and public programming and exhibition. Research will provide a structure of measure the influence of social impact storytelling, while providing students and faculty with workshops, lectures and visiting artists programs. The programming and exhibitions will engage the public in debate around society’s most pressing problems and the role that “entertainment and performing arts can play.

“I founded Participant Media in the belief that a story well-told has the power to ignite positive social change,” Skoll said via a press release announcing the center. “This new center at UCLA TFT is an extension of that vision, with the goal of empowering a new generation, and elevating storytelling as a tool to create impact and empower people to connect to the social issues which can have a profound impact on our world,” he said.

The center builds on UCLA’s “longstanding commitment to scholarship and programming that not only enlightens and inspires but also leads by addressing some of the world’s most challenging problems,” Chancellor Gene Block said. The partnership reflects a shared worldview of being impactful and expands a relationship that is already benefiting students, he added.

“A key goal of the center is to bring together groups that don’t often connect around the topic of storytelling, serving as a hub for foundations, social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, philanthropists, corporations, and the creative community, who need a resource to create new ways to connect and tell stories,” said Skoll, who serves as founder and chairman of the Skoll Foundation.

Participant Media also announced the launch of a new annual global convening in association with the center and UCLA TFT beginning in 2015, which will bring together leaders from the creative community, government, academic, business and the nonprofit sectors, “with a focus on using storytelling as a tool to reach a mass audience, inspire interest, empower change and create impact.”

It’s the second endowed university program by Skoll, who a decade ago endowed the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. The Skoll Centre “demonstrates and accelerates the impact of entrepreneurial activity that aims to transform unjust or unsatisfactory systems and practices.”