A Great Opportunity for Social Entrepreneurs

I don’t often receive mail from a non-profit organization announcing that it is seeking qualified social entrepreneurs and offering money to fund worthy projects.

Yet I received precisely such an exhortation in a recent letter from Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green and a fellow participant with me in David Gergen’s “Effective Leadership” seminar at the Socrates Society seminar of the Aspen Institute this past July.

Cheryl and her colleagues at Echoing Green seek to fund and provide technical assistance to emerging social entrepreneurs through individual seed grants of up to $90,000.  These grants are payable over two years and recipients are awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship.

Who Should Apply?

Applicants should be “visionary new leaders who want to start their own organizations to create lasting social change”.  Echoing Green seeks to support projects that develop new solutions to society’s deepest problems in diverse areas including education, health, housing, civil and human rights, the environment, economic development, and the arts.  Among the successful programs that Echoing Green has funded in America, you can find Teach for America, City Year, and Jumpstart.

Echoing Green expects applicants to be prepared to make a full-time commitment to the implementation of their proposal for at least two years.
The application process includes developing organizational plans and participating in several interviews before panels of veteran business and non-profit leaders in New York city. “Judges evaluate applicants’ leadership and entrepreneurial skills, the degree to which their ideas are innovative and the potential of their organizations to deliver long-term social change.”

Examples of Projects Funded in 2005

Niagara Community Initiative
Buffalo, New York

“… the innovative reuse of abandoned property through … an urban land trust that organizes neighborhood residents to support the acquisition of abandoned properties and their redevelopment as low-income limited-equity cooperative apartments; and a grass-roots community action organization that campaigns to reform flawed public policies that increase abandonment and hinder non-profit re-development in the inner city.”

Deaf Community Health Worker
St. Paul, Minnesota

“[an] organization that will train members of the Deaf population to be the nation’s first Deaf Community Health Workers (DCHW).  DCHW will be the bridge that enables Deaf people in Minnesota to have access to health information in their language, understand their health issues and feel empowered to promote health and wellness in their community.”

Parliamentary Research Service (PRS)
New Delhi, India

“Over 60 Bills are passed every year in India’s Parliamentary system, most with significant implications on long term national policy.  Despite this, a non-partisan service to provide easy-to-understand analysis on these bills to almost 800 Members of Parliament does not exist.  PRS seeks to promote good governance in India through supporting a well informed, transparent and participatory legislative process by meeting the great need for analysis and training of legislators.

A Model Resettlement Village (MRV)
Mannar District, Sri Lanka

“MRV will resettle a mixed group of Tamil and Muslim internally displaced families in their native Mannar, giving preference to war widows, rape victims, the disabled, young female heads of households and internally displaced people living in refugee camps.”

What is Echoing Green?

Echoing Green is a global social venture fund that identifies, funds, and supports visionary leaders with bold new ideas for social change.  Over the past 15 years, Echoing green has invested over $22 million to help more than 400 social change agents in 30 countries.  Echoing supports both domestic U.S. and international organizations.

Echoing Green has an enviable record of success—since its foundation in 1987, 77% of organizations launched by Echoing Green are still in existence today and 85% of Echoing Green Fellows have remained in leadership positions in the social sector after the conclusion of their fellowship.

The 2006 Fellowship Program application period is open NOW through 5 PM EST on December 1, 2005. If you are interested or know of someone who should be, please refer them to the Echoing Green website.  Here’s a way to make something bold and positive happen!

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