Echoing Green invests $2.5 million in follow-on funding to scale the growth and impact of proximate leaders advancing racial justice globally
- In the latest cycle, Echoing Green awarded $1 million and introduced two new grant types.
- By mid 2024, the organization plans to disburse more than $10 million in follow-on investments.
New York, NY – August 25, 2022 – With support from the organization’s Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund, Echoing Green is building upon its investment in proximate social innovators – whose leadership reflects the communities they serve. The first program of its kind at the organization, follow-on funding provides additional investments to alumni Fellow-led social enterprises advancing racial equity in the U.S. and globally.
Since 2021, Echoing Green has granted $2.5 million in follow-on funding to 67 recipients, including $1 million in its latest funding cycle. The unrestricted funding supports the impact of leaders working on a range of equity-driven projects and initiatives in places including the U.S., India, Malawi, D.R. Congo, and Ghana. As demonstrated in Echoing Green’s latest report, Black Voices, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation, significant, unrestricted capital is important for creating an environment where social innovators can take risks and increase their impact.
Echoing Green Fellowships are awarded to leaders of early-stage social enterprises. During the initial fellowship, leaders receive $80,000 in unrestricted seed funding. This support is crucial for helping these organizations launch and gain traction, but the funding is often unable to sustain ventures through the “death valley curve” – a period in startup growth where the core work has begun, but the company’s initial capital is depleted. This curve is even steeper for organizations led by Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and especially for organizations conducting racial justice or equity work. Through follow-on funding, Echoing Green has supported proposals from communities and organizations impacted by this curve; 96% of all grantees to date identify as BIPOC, and 100% of grantees in this cycle identify as BIPOC.
“In listening and learning from Fellows, we’ve identified a huge need in our Fellow community – especially for Fellows of color – to access flexible, significant, and patient capital that enables them to take their work to the next level. Since launching the follow-on funding program, we’ve received over $10 million in requests and are thrilled to be awarding our largest grants to date to the recipients of this latest cycle,” said Echoing Green President and 1992 Fellow Cheryl L. Dorsey. “With alumni Fellows as part of the decision-making process, we’re excited to see how a participatory grantmaking process can set the stage for sustaining some of the boldest social innovations over the long term. As we work to refine our model and grantmaking practices, we look forward to continuing to reinvest in our Fellows and model the necessary changes required in our field.”
In the most recent grant cycle, Echoing Green awarded grants of $100,000 to eight leaders advancing racial equity in education, criminal justice, sanitation, and human rights. For this group of grantees, the funding will be used in three ways: to expand an organization’s presence in additional cities and countries, to build racial equity-based technology platforms, and to expand programming to reach and serve more constituents. Specific projects include scaling Golden Baobab, a social enterprise increasing African representation in children’s literature led by 2011 Fellow Deborah Ahenkorah, to three additional African countries. Echoing Green plans to disburse an additional $4 million by mid-2023 as part of the next follow-on funding cycles.
“Transformational funding from Echoing Green enables us to scale and sustain our work to hold the private sector accountable for its role in fueling mass incarceration,” said Tanay Tatum-Edwards, 2019 Echoing Green Fellow and founder and CEO of FreeCap Financial. “After successfully launching our first report and dataset measuring the criminal justice footprint of 105 of the largest companies in the U.S., this funding builds our capacity to analyze 400 additional companies, screen over $50 billion in investable assets, and build a web-based platform to disseminate our racial justice investing research. We are excited about what this catalytic capital means for both our work and the field at large.”
For the first time, grants were awarded to support coordinated, cross-organization racial equity work and to promote coalition building within Echoing Green’s community of nearly 1,000 social change leaders. Fellows DeMar Pitman and William Jackson are partnering to create a digital platform designed to measure the instructional climate of schools and classrooms in regards to inequitable school policies and practices. Fellows Purvi Shah and Alana Greer will launch a multi-city internship program to build concrete pathways for BIPOC lawyers to utilize movement lawyering to transform the status quo at a local, national, and global level.
Funding and scaling racial justice work requires all of us to build toward a social innovation ecosystem that invests in and elevates proximate leaders for the long haul. To invest in these global leaders is to invest in the enduring vision of a more just and equitable future for all. Check out the Fellows who will receive follow-on investments from Echoing Green this cycle: