Signal Fund is bridging critical funding gaps for social innovatorsLEARN MORE

Diving Deep into Solving Community Challenges

IGNITE is an experience offered on HBCU partner campuses designed to light the fire of innovation in emerging leaders across the U.S.

In late 2022, Echoing Green launched IGNITE, a program for emerging leaders interested in taking action in their communities. Delivered at seven Historically Black Colleges & Universities in Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina, the IGNITE sessions sparked the innovative genius of undergraduate and graduate students on these campuses. The IGNITE program is part of a team effort to build more onramps to the social innovation field, including the seven HBCU partners for the 2022-23 school year: Clark Atlanta University, Dillard University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T, Southern University of New Orleans, Spelman College, and Xavier University of Louisiana.


Following the fall IGNITE workshops in each region, several students were inspired to take their leadership a step further by joining us for the three-month virtual Masterclass intensive during the spring semester. The program brought together 24 students from all partner schools for a curriculum focused on entrepreneurial thinking, social innovation, leadership identity, and creative problem-solving.

After participating in the Echoing Green Masterclass, I have had the opportunity to network with other amazing entrepreneurs interested in taking their innovations to the next level. This program has prepared me to begin sharing my innovation with the world and participate in making real change. — Ta’Mia Morrisette, Xavier University of Louisiana

Throughout Masterclass, students used Echoing Green partner WeThrive’s digital learning curriculum—specifically designed for entrepreneurship education and helping young people apply their ideas to real-world applications. From identifying root causes to developing implementation strategies that transcend sectors and issue areas, these innovators brought new thinking to age-old problems.

The Showcase Event

Masterclass sessions are all about moving participants from an idea to action, culminating in a virtual Showcase where they spotlight their plans for community-designed impact to a panel of social entrepreneurship practitioners and funders. They combined the principles explored during Masterclass workshops to prepare for the Showcase’s pitch session. Ten Masterclass innovators passionately shared their bold ideas for change “on stage” before receiving real-time feedback and coaching from the expert judge panel.

During the Showcase program, the virtual audience heard a fireside chat featuring 2022 Fellow Donte Miller—a graduate of Morehouse College and founder of Village Micro Fund—interviewed by Stacy Lewis, Senior Director of Operations and Human Resources at Echoing Green. They talked about the power of innovation, community-generated organizations, and economic justice—themes that mirror many of the Masterclass participants’ passions.

At the close of the event, four students were awarded first, second, third, and viewers’ choice awards and a cash prize based on their judge scores and audience votes.

Congratulations to the winners!

  • 1st Place: Journey Reddick Umoja
  • 2nd Place: Ta’Mia Morrissette
  • 3rd Place: Sharika Cochran
  • Viewers’ Choice Award: Justice Perry

On each participating HBCU campus, Echoing Green partnered with committed faculty and curious students to take a sharp look at the issues young people care about. Thank you to Dr. Teri Platt (Clark Atlanta University), Dr. Kim Moorehead and Courtney Williams (Dillard University), Dr. Illya Davis and Dr. Melvin Foster (Morehouse College), Tiffany Seawright and LeKeshia Franklin (North Carolina A&T), Dr. Patrice Sentino (Southern University at New Orleans), Jilo Tisdale (Spelman College), and Mark Quinn (Xavier University of Louisiana).

Echoing Green also teamed up with long-standing funder Barclays and WeThrive, a social enterprise founded by 2015 Echoing Green Fellow Daquan Oliver, to deliver a virtual learning and collaboration platform, hands-on coaching, and more.

Leave a reply

Your comment has been submitted and is awaiting approval.