Arts + Culture

Gift from Jeff Skoll launches Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at UCLA TFT

$10 million endowment at School of Theater, Film and Television will advance social change through entertainment and performing arts

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Schwartz Berk and Skoll
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UCLA TFT Dean Teri Schwartz with Participant Media CEO Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll, whose gift to the school is intended to elevate storytelling as a tool to create impact and empower people.

Teri Schwartz, dean of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and philanthropist, social entrepreneur and founder of Participant Media Jeff Skoll today announced the launch of the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The new center is dedicated to promoting social change through entertainment and performing arts. Skoll has made a $10 million gift to name and endow the center.

The Skoll Center for SIE is the first of its kind dedicated solely to advancing the power of entertainment and performing arts to inspire social change. The work of the center will be organized around three pillars:

  • Research on a global scale that provides a structure to measure the influence of social impact storytelling.
  • Education and special initiatives that will not only enhance and complement the educational experience by exploring innovative approaches to curricular development for the emerging field of social impact entertainment, but also provide students and faculty with workshops, lectures, distinguished visiting artists programs and unique opportunities to focus their scholarly and creative work in this arena.
  • Public programming and exhibition to ignite and engage the public in meaningful debate around society’s most pressing problems and the important role entertainment and performing arts plays in this conversation.

“I founded Participant Media in the belief that a story well-told has the power to ignite positive social change,” Skoll said. “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.”

“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, non-profits, philanthropists, corporations, and the creative community, who need a resource to create new ways to connect and tell stories,” he added.

“The new Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television builds on UCLA’s long-standing commitment to scholarship and programming that not only enlightens and inspires but also leads by addressing some of the world’s most challenging problems,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “This partnership between the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and Jeff Skoll reflects a shared worldview of being impactful and expands a relationship that is already benefiting our students.”

Schwartz added, “We could not be more honored or proud to partner with our good friend, Jeff Skoll, to establish this groundbreaking new center. The center speaks volumes to Jeff’s remarkable vision, generosity and commitment to making the world a better place. At the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, our landmark new vision asks us to reimagine entertainment and performing arts education as an interdisciplinary enterprise grounded in humanistic storytelling, social responsibility, global diversity and technology and innovation.

“The Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment is an exciting extension of our school’s vision and leadership for a new kind of entertainment and performing arts education that prepares our students to meet the demands of a rapidly changing global industry not only with new skill sets, artistry and real-world knowledge, but with an eye toward using the power of story and research to inspire and galvanize social change,” she said.

Participant Media also announced the launch of a new annual global convening in association with the Skoll Center and UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. Beginning in 2015, the event will bring together leaders from the creative community, and government, academic, business and nonprofit sectors, with a focus on using storytelling as a tool to reach a mass audience, inspire interest, empower change and create impact.

“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,” Skoll said.

In 2013, Skoll and Participant Media created and funded the Jake Eberts Fellowship for Social Impact Filmmaking in recognition of acclaimed producer Jake Eberts’ profound impact on the entertainment business and his distinguished career producing socially relevant films. The fellowship annually provides six UCLA TFT graduate students with a paid experience at Participant Media to actively participate in the creation of socially relevant content.

In addition to Participant Media, Skoll is the founder and chairman of The Skoll Foundation, created to drive large-scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems. He is also the founder of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, with a mission to confront global threats imperiling humanity by seeking solutions, strengthening alliances and spurring actions needed to safeguard the future.

The Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment is Skoll’s second endowed university program. Ten years ago, he endowed the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, to demonstrate and accelerate the impact of entrepreneurial activity that aims to transform unjust or unsatisfactory systems and practices. 

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