PBS NEWSHOUR launches “Agents for Change” series on social entrepreneurship

PBS NewsHour is pleased to launch a series featuring people we are calling “Agents for Change” – motivated individuals who respond to entrenched social challenges like poverty, food security and access to basic amenities with innovative solutions that go beyond short-term fixes to create sustainable solutions that change the system, improve the local economy and impact people’s daily lives.

Beginning Wednesday, October 17, PBS NEWSHOUR will be featuring these “Agents for Change” in a series of reports both on air and online.  The initiative is in collaboration with the Under-Told Stories Project and is funded by the Skoll Foundation and Saint Mary’s University of Minneapolis.

The Philippines is the focus of the first reports.  PBS NewsHour Special Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on the increased risk of human trafficking in a country where more than a tenth of the population works overseas.  Jobs are scarce in the densely populated Philippines and the ones that are available, pay very little.  So, many Filipinos seek work abroad, where a job as a house maid in Hong-Kong earns more than a college graduate at home.   Unfortunately, this makes people vulnerable to human traffickers who lure young girls with promises of good jobs, only to entrap them into forced labor or prostitution.

On Air – Fred de Sam Lazaro features Cecilia Oebanda, founder of the Visayan Forum Foundation, the Philippines largest anti-trafficking group.  A former political prisoner, Oebanda now works to rescue trafficking victims of all ages and circumstances.

Online Q&A –  Fred de Sam Lazaro and Beth Klein, a “superlawyer” from Colorado known for writing effective anti-trafficking legislation and advocating for the enslaved, take questions from viewers about human trafficking overseas as well as in the United States.   Answers will be posted the following week.

Profiles of “Agents for Change”– Online, PBS NewsHour will profile 10 young (under 40) Agents for Change who are starting to make their mark in the world.  We’ll also be taking recommendations from the public and then next Spring PBS NewsHour will profile another 5 Agents for Change who get the most recommendations from the public. 

The series begins with profiles of two social entrepreneurs from the Philippines on our website http://www.pbs.org/newshour/news/social-entrepreneurs/ :  Mark Ruiz, founder of Microventures Inc., which in addition to providing micro-financing to small home-based store owners in rural areas, teaches them better business practices and helps distribute important goods, like basic medical supplies, to their communities; and  Iliac Diaz, founder of My Shelter Foundation and Liter of Light, which brings green sustainable solutions to the grassroots level.

Upcoming online reports will feature Ben Berkowitz (SeeClickFix); Donnel Baird (BlocPower); Deepa Gangwani (Together as One); Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez (Global Cycle Solutions); Elizabeth Scharpf (Sustainable Health Enterprises); Veronika Scott (The Empowerment Plan);Rebecca van Bergen (Nest); and Jodie Wu (Global Cycle Solutions).

NewsHour Special Correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro will be reporting in coming months from Turkey, Bangladesh, India, and China among other countries. A Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Hendrickson Institute for Ethical Leadership, de Sam Lazaro is director of the Under-Told Stories Project at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

The Under-Told Stories Project is a collaborative project involving international journalism and teaching. It produces high-quality, multimedia reporting for public and commercial news outlets and engages students from Saint Mary’s University in courses, internships and mentoring opportunities providing a forum for the critical reflection on the world’s under-reported news stories, and hands-on skills in media production.

The Skoll Foundation’s mission is 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.

PBS NEWSHOUR is seen by over 5 million weekly viewers and is also available online, via public radio in select markets and via podcast. The program is produced in association with WETA Washington, D.C., and WNET in New York. Major funding for the PBS NEWSHOUR is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and public television viewers. www.pbs.org/newshour