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Ebay billionaire keeps #MeToo moving by donating millions

by Lee Mannion | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 2 April 2018 16:00 GMT

A demonstrator takes part in a #MeToo protest march for survivors of sexual assault and their supporters in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California U.S. November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

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Callisto is a web platform where students at 13 colleges in the United States can log incidents of sexual assault

By Lee Mannion

LONDON, April 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A website that makes reporting sexual assault easier is one of six organisations gifted $7.5 million by an Ebay billionaire in order to ramp up their effectiveness.

The Skoll Foundation - started by Jeff Skoll, former president of Ebay - rewarded five female and one male social entrepreneurs tackling subjects as diverse as access to clean energy and improving the way governments work.

Every year the Skoll Foundation gives awards to social entrepreneurs whose businesses are helping solve social and environmental problems with more than 100 organisations benefiting since 2005.

"To have them help you along the way, it's so valuable. There's a big opportunity with the #MeToo movement to expand our model," said Jessica Ladd of Callisto.

Callisto is a web platform where students at 13 colleges in the United States can log incidents of sexual assault even if they are unsure of reporting it to authorities for fear of repercussions.

One in five women at university in the United States has experienced sexual assault or sexual misconduct, according to the Association of American Universities. Institutions surveyed said reporting figures of incidents were as low as 5 percent.

Ladd said her organisation, which started in 2015, was exploring how to adapt the system for other institutions before the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke.

"Now is this moment where people are caring and talking about this issue in a lot of different industries all at once," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"How can we use this moment to not just let this be a momentary public outing or social media movement, but put systems into place to keep this going?" said Ladd, who plans on increasing her staff to 30 from 10 by the end of the year.

The Skoll Foundation looks for organisations that have proven, innovative solutions to global problems, awarding them funding of $1.25 million each as well as help with the business.

Other winners of the 2018 awards include myAgro, which offers solutions to improve the methods and livelihoods of farmers in developing countries, and Global Health Corps, which works to expand the availability of healthcare.

"It is a special moment when our 'family' of social entrepreneurs expands. Our community immediately strengthens, as does our collective understanding of how to solve the world's most pressing problems," Skoll said in a statement.

(Reporting by Lee Mannion @leemannion, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith )

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