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Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll has partnered with the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television to launch the Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment, dedicated to advancing the power of entertainment and performing arts to inspire social change. The former eBay president has made a $10 million gift to name and endow the center, which will be based at the university.
The center will conduct global research to measure the influence of social impact storytelling, educate students about entertainment designed to promote social change and provide public programming to spur debate about social problems and the role entertainment and the performing arts play in creating solutions.
“I founded Participant Media in the belief that a story well told has the power to ignite positive social change,” Skoll said in a statement. “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 that can have a profound impact on our world.”
UCLA chancellor Gene Block added, “The new Skoll Center for Social Impact Entertainment at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television 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. 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 students.”
Starting in 2015, the center will host an annual event focused on using storytelling to create change, bringing together leaders from the creative community, government, business, academic and nonprofit sectors.
“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.
UCLA TFT’s dean, Teri 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, 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 and an eye toward using the power of story and research to inspire and galvanize social change.”
In 2013, Skoll and Participant created and funded the Jake Eberts Fellowship for Social Impact Filmmaking, which, every year, gives six UCLA TFT graduate students paid experience at Participant.
UCLA’s new Skoll Center is the Participant founder’s second endowed university program, creating one for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Said Business School 10 years ago.
Founded in 2004, Participant focuses on movies, TV shows, publishing and digital content that inspire and compel social change. Past films backed by Participant include An Inconvenient Truth, Contagion, The Help, Lincoln, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Square and Citizenfour. Participant’s TV network Pivot is available in 45 million homes.
10:36 a.m. This story has been updated with more background on Participant and Skoll and corrected to reflect that the center is not a facility.
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