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Written by Echoing Green and Equivolve Consulting, this report explores the possibilities for increased impact in the social innovation field through reflections on Echoing Green’s investment in U.S.-based Black social innovators over the last decade.

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In the face of white supremacy and little support, Black leaders have long been the architects of their own social, cultural, and economic liberation. Imagine what could be possible if funders committed resources to Black leaders in proportion to the problems they are solving.

This report, which is informed through more than fifteen interviews with Echoing Green Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellows and leaders from the BMA and social entrepreneurship sectors, discusses the current and future impact of Black innovators within the social innovation field.

Black Voices, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation incorporates learnings from Echoing Green’s BMA Fellowship (2012-2020), the history of Black innovation in the U.S., and the lived experiences of Black social entrepreneurs currently navigating fundraising and network-building to support thriving communities. This report calls for the field—from nonprofit leaders and entrepreneurs to impact funders—to move beyond disrupting the status quo toward building for liberation through Black innovation.

These learnings yield three takeaways for decision-makers and influencers of funding strategies in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship to apply to create a sustainable ecosystem that fully activates and incubates Black innovation:

  • Reframe who we see as innovators and how we view successful social innovation
  • Commit to creating an intentional, responsive ecosystem beyond crisis
  • Expand funding opportunities available to Black innovators

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This report is part of Echoing Green’s Invest in Black Leaders campaign. We are grateful for the partnership of the lead sponsors of this campaign: Comcast NBCUniversal, Barclays, Bloomberg Philanthropies, General Atlantic, Allstate, and Moody’s.

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