Black Voices, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation reframes the narrative of social innovation; calls for long-term, expanded support for Black innovators and communities
New York, NY – August 15, 2022 – Today, Echoing Green, which runs a leading global fellowship program for emerging social innovators, released Black Voices, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation, a report exploring the possibilities for increased impact in the social innovation field through a series of critical reflections on Echoing Green’s investment in U.S.-based Black social innovators over the last decade.
Written by Echoing Green and Equivolve Consulting, this report explores the philanthropic dynamics affecting Black social innovators and concludes with lessons for the social entrepreneurship field to meaningfully fund and support Black innovation and impact. The learnings are informed by more than 15 interviews and case studies with social innovation field leaders and Black leaders supported through Echoing Green’s Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellowship – the world’s first fellowship for social entrepreneurs creating systemic change for Black men and boys in the U.S.
Between 2012 and 2020, Echoing Green invested more than $6 million in 90 BMA Fellows in 40 cities across the U.S. These Fellows subsequently raised nearly $65M during their active fellowships, instigating large-scale social change in climate, education, civil and human rights, and more.
“The Black Male Achievement Fellowship is an extraordinary part of Echoing Green’s legacy. The insights in this report come from this community of transformational leaders who continue to propel the social innovation field forward by applying a race-informed lens to the critical work of social innovation,” said Echoing Green President and 1992 Fellow Cheryl L. Dorsey. “Black Male Achievement Fellows pushed Echoing Green to really codify its thinking around bringing equity into every piece of the process of our core work to select, support, and connect Fellows. We are grateful for their continued impact on our organization and the sector at large.”
Black Voice, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation explores the history of social innovation as a time-honored pathway to justice and how Black communities have designed and determined their own futures in the face of white supremacy, economic disinvestment, and structural racism. The report provides a case study of what is possible when Black social innovators exist in an affirming, responsive environment of support and respect.
Through both a historical and forward-looking context, the report emphasizes a powerful call to action:
- Reframe the dominant narrative of what is social innovation and who is a social innovator;
- Commit to funding and supporting Black communities and Black leaders for the long-term;
- Expand funding and support opportunities available to Black innovators.
“2020’s influx of interest and funding in Black leaders is an example of a historical cycle of reactionary funding,” said Derick Pearson, founder of national think tank Center for Black Innovation and 2017 Black Male Achievement Fellow. “Black leaders have always been here – fueled by ingenuity, creativity, and joy as we design solutions with and for our communities. It is time that philanthropy and influencers of funding strategies build enduring infrastructure that meaningfully honors Black innovation and life by directing significant resources, capital, networks, and policies to Black communities so our innovation can thrive.”
This report is part of Echoing Green’s Invest in Black Leaders storytelling campaign, launched in 2022 as part of activities and programming supported by the organization’s $75M Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund. The campaign, which also includes a short documentary titled Unwavering: The Power of Black Innovation, calls for sustained investments in Black leaders and communities as a pathway to advancing a more just, equitable, and sustainable world.
The Invest in Black Leaders campaign is presented with generous support from Comcast NBCUniversal, Barclays, Bloomberg Philanthropies, General Atlantic, Allstate, and Moody’s. As a longtime partner and lead supporter of the Invest in Black Leaders campaign, Barclays is assisting Echoing Green in building and expanding the pipeline of Black, Indigenous, and other leaders of color who approach social impact using social innovation frameworks. Through programs like the annual Social Innovation Challenge and work with HBCUs, Barclays and Echoing Green are delivering programming and workshops to social innovators at different leadership stages as they elevate racial justice in their work.
About Echoing Green:
For 35 years, Echoing Green (www.echoinggreen.org) has been on the front lines of solving the world’s biggest problems, raising up transformational leaders willing to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. The organization finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Echoing Green’s community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the founders of Teach For America, Center for Black Innovation, BlocPower, and One Acre Fund. Built and refined over three decades, Echoing Green discovers tomorrow’s leaders today, and then funds, connects, and supports a new generation of social impact leaders.
About Equivolve Consulting
Equivolve (equivolveconsulting.com) is a Baltimore-based social research and strategy firm that uses innovative research and evaluation approaches to help leaders and organizations drive equitable results in the United States and around the world. Equivolve operates with the belief in the abundant human potential existing around the world and a recognition that not everyone has access to the resources and opportunities to allow this potential to be fully realized. Our work seeks to activate human potential where it is actively being denied.