Echoing Green

Echoing Green is one of the most established support organizations for social entrepreneurs not least because they have been around for almost 30 years and come with a long track record of supporting social entrepreneurs. Established in 1987, Echoing Green has worked with nearly 700 emerging leaders, working in more than 70 countries, looking to launch initiatives to create change in their communities.  In recent years, Echoing Green’s reach and impact has grown significantly: Application numbers rose from 941 in 2009 to 2077 in 2016 Headquartered in New York City, I had the opportunity to speak to Camila Pazos who directs the search and selection process for the Fellowship program at Echoing Green.


Xiaoyuan Ren and her team wit her My H2O campaign

Selection & Program Outline

Every year Echoing Green holds an open call for applications for their Fellowship program and receives thousands of applications from self-identified early stage social entrepreneurs. “We work closely with Outreach Partners such as universities, peer organizations, foundations, incubators and accelerators to spread the word about our opportunity and find the best applicants. Echoing Green’s mission is to track down the best and brightest leaders, bringing them together, and launching them on a path to success.”, Camila explains. Echoing Green offers four different programs

  • Fellowships
    • Global Fellowship: flagship program for emerging social leaders, across the world, working on smart solutions to challenges in their communities
    • Black Male Achievement Fellowship: supports leaders who are dedicated to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys in the United States.
    • Climate Fellowship: program for aspiring social entrepreneurs who develop innovations to mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • Direct Impact: experiential board leadership program to prepare exceptional young business leaders for high-impact nonprofit board service
  • Work on Purpose: a program designed to guide young professionals in creating impact in their careers
  • Impact Investing: supports Fellows seeking or receiving investment, and produces research that elevates the profile of global early stage social entrepreneurship and impact investing and the field level.

Camila and I mainly spoke about the Global Fellowship whose parameters are identical across all Fellowship programs. Selection criteria focus on both the individual (passion/purpose, resilience, leadership, ability to attract resources) and their organization (innovation, importance, potential for impact, business model) (website).

If selected, participants benefit from

  • A stipend of $80,000 for individuals (or $90,000 for two-person partnerships) paid in four equal installments over two years
  • A health insurance stipend
  • A yearly professional development stipend
  • Leadership development and networking gatherings
  • Access to technical expertise and pro bono partnerships to help grow their organization, a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager, and support from Echoing Green chaplains
  • A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs, public service leaders, and industry leaders including the Echoing Green network of nearly 700 Fellows working in over sixty countries all over the world.

“We are not just a grant making organization but a Fellowship program.” Camila clarifies. ”We look to accelerate leaders with purpose creating change in their communities. While we work with them individually, one of the main strengths of our program is that we convene them within the greater Echoing Green network.”


2016 Climate Fellow Radwa Rostom at Hand Over

Fellows are selected in June, and come together for a New Fellows Retreat in July. Together with their portfolio managers, they develop their Individual Fellow Plan (IFP) outlining what it is they want to achieve throughout the Fellowship, and how to get there. Fellows also benefit from a leadership development fund to invest in their training, and access to service partners to work on specific aspects of their ventures.

How Echoing Green is Unique

What surprised me about Echoing Green is that they have been managing this large program from one headquarter in New York City. I realize they work with partner hubs at the West Coast of the US, India and some African countries. But still, stemming this kind of operation with participants from all over the world out of one location sound challenging.

At the same time, Echoing Green’s model lends itself to this central management not least because their system is built on Portfolio Managers who take on a number of Fellows and guide them through their Fellowship with the help of their Individual Fellow Plans. Portfolio Managers may be able to serve on one or more of the five following roles::

  • Connector -Is the best positioned to help a Fellow access the tremendous resources in the Echoing Green Community;
  • Expert Advisor – Can, where possible and justified, drawn on personal experience and expertise to help a Fellow solve key organizational challenges;
  • Thought Partner – Serve as an extra brain to think critically, as smart generalists, through any sort of issue a Fellow may face, such that they don’t have to do it alone;
  • Confidant – Will listen, without prejudice, to professional and personal challenges; and
  • Advocate – Promote a Fellow to potential donors and peer institutions, awards or even for opportunities within Echoing Green itself.

The Individual Fellow Plan is an “informal written document that identifies [Fellows’] current strengths and weaknesses and identifies the areas where Echoing Green is best placed to be helpful over the course of the two years and beyond.” It hones in on leadership skills that will affect the Fellow’s ability to

  • Raise money in appropriate amounts for their stage and size of need.
  • Operate according to clear, written short-term plans and goals.
  • Internalize a philosophy of regular measurement against a documented theory of change
  • Remain committed to keep working on their issue and/or organization, at a high level of passion and energy, in the years after their Fellowship.
  • Identifying and mapping solutions for two to three additional areas that may only be relevant to that particular Fellow at that time, such as hiring an executive team or building a thought leadership capacity.

Dive into their support philosophy here.

At the time of publication (June 2016), Echoing Green just announced their latest Fellow cohort. Learn more about them here.



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