Our goals have always been undeniably planetary-bold, but how are we doing? How is Sky(lark) progressing towards the Sustainable Development Goals? And in general, when we talk about complex global issues, how much of the ultimate impact is achieved by the ones that do direct service, how much is achieved by support services, how much is due to strategy, and how much is due to resources? Impossible questions still worth asking by funders, strategy teams, and implementers alike because global progress requires involvement from all of us, from NGOs to philanthropists, governments, and the private sector. When results are achieved, it is equally by none and all involved, in an iceberg of sorts. Everyone has a role to play and the positive transformation of our global society needs each of us.
At Sky(lark), we are fourth sector architects. We strategically infuse innovation at the intersection of all of these sectors to increase their capacity to do good locally and globally. We are humbled to work with incredible, impactful, and impressive partners who are invariably much larger than us. As a social enterprise with a small but multinational team, we aim to positively impact in small or big ways, all people (and we mean ALL people), and measuring that kind of impact at scale is hard. So in addition the actual few things we can measure and the metrics of success from our clients, the Sustainable Development Goals have been one of the concrete, quantitative ways we’ve found to benchmark our large scale progress.
Recently the World Bank released the 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals–a progress report filled with maps and charts marking advancements toward the 17 goals. With an eye on the new findings, we are taking this opportunity to check in with ourselves and track our own progression toward the SDGs that are relevant to our work.
SDG 17: “Partnership for Global Development: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”
SDG 17 is a core focus of our work at Sky(lark). What we do is centered around strengthening partnerships; whether it’s through our own programming, through collaboration, or by helping NGOs, philanthropists, and businesses meet their own socially and environmentally focused missions, this SDG lies at the center of what’s it all about: developing connections for social good.
We opened our Europe office in April 2018 in Brussels, Belgium with a small but mighty team and our focus in Europe is to help strengthen the social entrepreneurship work of the EU Commission in the region. In addition, our work with the Transatlantic Core Group of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Robert Bosch Stiftung, and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is focused onstrengthening partnerships on both sides of the Atlantic on a variety of levels including civil society, education, discourse, and next generation engagement. We are also very proud of our current work in this arena with The Roddenberry Foundation, one of the most innovative private foundations out there.
SDG 10: “Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries”
This goal touches on several areas of our current efforts as we seek to support and empower changemakers. Right now, our key work in this area is conducted in partnership with our client, the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego – a powerful place, training the lawyers of tomorrow to give voice to the voiceless, and a highly effective advocacy vehicle for defending the rights of 37 million consumers in California while being a watchdog in Sacramento against monied interests. We are also collaborating with Human Rights Foundation, an organization that strengthens democracy around the world. We have worked with HRF since 2017 to help create cohesion among activists working to advance democracy in Ecuador thought the facilitation of the Ecuador Freedom Task Force.
In 2016, we started the GG Society Fellowship Program with the desire to support and help develop nonprofit leaders working to advance equality in the US and internationally and have run several cohorts through the program impacting communities in the fields of education, mental health, homelessness & housing, food security, grief support, early childhood, family support, college access, workforce development, foster youth, gender equality, STEM, the arts, and civic engagement for youth, to name just a few. Designed as a broader reach companion to our Fellowship program, the GG Society online resource platform, has over 200 NGO leaders from 6 continents sharing resources and learning together.
In 2016 we also founded an NGO Accelerator in Timisoara, Romania, and our Romanian flagship partner Ador Copiii is moving the needle significantly on growing social entrepreneurship initiatives for NGOs that advocate for orphaned and abandoned children as well as adoption support and education for parents.
Additionally, since 2017, as a Fellow of the Summit. Ahead. program we have been collaborating with changemakers in Silicon Valley to find emerging answers to the problem/opportunity presented by automation and its impact on workers in the trucking and fast food industries, looking for ways to help those workers upskill and improve their economic outcomes while advancing answers on the larger question surrounding the Future of Work.
SDG 5: “Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”
Currently, our most direct work related to this SDG is through our efforts to improve the fund development strategies and effectiveness of a powerful women-led women’s rights organization that empowers and trains women in the global south to know their rights and self-advocate through existing legal systems. International Women’s Rights Watch – Asia Pacific, is a global NGO headquartered in Malaysia that has been making impressive strides for global women’s equality for 25 years. Additionally, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (also known as IPJ) is doing remarkable work in advancing the power of Women Peacemakers around the world – we have partnered with the institute since 2016 on the development of a strategic planning process and the development of fund development internal mechanisms.
SDG 16: “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels”
Right now, we are working on helping define the strategy for the next few years for the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego, a global hub for peacebuilding and social innovation focused on global peacebuilding and social innovation. We are proud to help this dedicated group of faculty, staff, and students increase their effectiveness, develop strategic growth opportunities, and sustain their good work. The work brewing inside the school is truly innovative, with transborder efforts between US and Mexico, intersections between Peace and Business, and Peace and Law, and projects spearheaded by IPJ (mentioned above)such as The Social Fabric Initiative, designed to build dense social networks among high school students, and with the Building Trust program, a powerful partnership of Clergy, Communities, and Police.
We are deeply grateful for the opportunities to work closely with so many impressive changemakers around the world to advance their missions, and together, move the needle on the SDGs toward a more equal, just, and collaborative world.
Cristina Gallegos, CEO Sky(lark) Strategies