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Fellows Bring Tenacity to the Table

Photo courtesy of Atlas: DIY

At Echoing Green, we invest in leaders who are driven by a deep sense of purpose. When it comes to the hard work of launching and leading an untried idea or untested organization, Echoing Green Fellows show demonstrate that resilience is a must-have.

Organizations can fail, but leaders keep up the fight when they’re committed to solving the challenge that’s moved them to act. For Lauren Burke, 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow, she was committed to co-creating an empowered community for undocumented youth and their allies. But the path to getting Atlas off the ground was not a smooth one – there were plenty of rejections and challenges they faced along the way. The rejections Lauren and her organization, Atlas: DIY, faced, won’t be their last. Lauren’s take? Tenacity and commitment go a long way to achieving lofty goals – and you’ll inevitably gain supporters along the way.

I applied for the Fellowship four years in a row before being named a Fellow in 2014. In May 2013 while I was doing my finalist interviews with Echoing Green, I was close to giving up on Atlas: DIY. For a year we operated out of a coffee shop and McDonald’s until we landed a shared space with a medical center. I was counseling clients on their legal rights next to eye charts and HIV test kits; all the while we were rejected by funder after funder. The rejections we encountered wouldn’t be our last. But even after I heard a no, I knew that what we were doing was important and needed. So when the acceptance call came from Echoing Green in spring 2014, it made Atlas: DIY seem real; finally we were getting the recognition I knew my members deserved.

Lauren identified three core tenets that helped her continue to pursue a Fellowship in the face of rejection:


Just do it.

If you realize you can help someone, take the risk to do it. You may be surprised about the support you receive for work you’ve created on your own.

Embrace failures.

Be honest about where you are–ask for help when you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask!

The communities you serve are often your best resource for improving and iterating on your work. They’ll be eager to be part of making things better for everyone, so don’t forget to enlist their help.

Inspired? Applications for the 2016 Echoing Green Fellowship class are open until 2:00 pm EST, November 17, 2015.

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