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Tips and Advice on Applying for an Echoing Green Fellowship

Social innovators are doers. They tackle problems head on, and when faced with a challenge, their bias is toward action. Those who apply for an Echoing Green Fellowship have the bold ideas to drive change and the talent and vision to see those ideas succeed, regardless of the obstacles. At Echoing Green, we know that building, connecting, and supporting a broad, diverse, collaborative community of social innovators is the most powerful way to ignite systems change. That’s why we look for people with the best ideas for social innovation, period. We don’t care whether you have the perfect business plan or resume, or if you even consider yourself a leader. If you have the ideas, talent, and vision to bring positive change to the world, Echoing Green wants to partner with you. And we’ll do whatever we can to amplify your voice.

This fall, the application for our next Fellowship class will open. If you are ready to join our community of social change leaders, we encourage you to explore these resources, which will help you determine whether Echoing Green is a good fit for you:

In addition, to offer some first-hand perspectives about our Fellowship, we have compiled insights from those who have applied to, experienced, and continue to engage with our Fellowship community. Read more to learn about the unique benefits of being part of Echoing Green’s ecosystem from Echoing Green Fellows themselves.

What would you say is the most valuable part about an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Alejandro Gibes de Gac ’12, Springboard Collaborative:

Echoing Green has been nothing short of a transformative experience for me in three respects. I’ll go through them in increasing order of long-term value.

1. Financial support

My parents can offer all kinds of support, but financial support is not among them. You don’t get too many entrepreneurs that look like me without organizations like Echoing Green that make it financially feasible to take a risk.

2. Credibility

Echoing Green is the “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval for early stage social ventures. As entrepreneurs, we talk about what we do until we’re blue in the face, and we’re constantly banging on doors. A little third-party validation goes a long way toward opening those doors.

Since Echoing Green’s $80K investment, we have generated $14M in fee-for-service revenue and raised another $12M in growth capital.

3. Community

I went into [my] first [Echoing Green] conference expecting the usual: grantseekers jostling to impress funders. What I got instead, I can only describe as entrepreneurial therapy. A community that cares so deeply for each member that we rise and fall as one.

I can go anywhere and trade business cards. Echoing Green is one of few places I can be my most authentic self and get the necessary emotional and intellectual nourishment to pursue impossible dreams.

What advice would you give to a potential applicant who is hesitant about applying?

Fagan Harris ’14, Baltimore Corps:

The application is genuinely helpful. It pushes you to think through the building blocks of your enterprise and confront early questions of scale, sustainability, and marketplace position. It’s more an exercise in organizational development than an application. Win or lose, it’s time well spent. Do it!

Christina Fialho ’12, Freedom for Immigrants:

To be honest, we did not believe we had a shot at this Fellowship. Our work with people in U.S. immigration detention did not seem to fit with many of the past recipients’ projects.  But we quickly learned that Echoing Green was not looking for slick ideas to address shiny problems; Echoing Green is looking for people who won’t rest until a problem is solved.  If you passionately believe in your idea and you understand the problem you are trying to solve inside and out then you should apply! The Echoing Green Fellowship was truly life changing for me, and I’m so grateful we took a leap of faith to apply.

Cole ‘12, Brown Boi Project and Brioxy:

Put together a dream team of advisors to help you tackle your application. Use it as a road mapping process for the next 18 months, and invite them to ask the hard questions. It will help you to produce a thorough application but also give you invaluable insight to growing your impact as a new idea and project.

How did the Echoing Green community (staff, Fellows, mentors, advisors) help you get to where you are now?

Etosha Cave ’16, Opus 12:

The Echoing Green staff, Fellows, mentors, and advisors have been my largest cheering squad. Building a social venture is like running a marathon, and having people there to keep you going can make all the difference.

Tony Weaver, Jr. ’16, Weird Enough Productions:

The Echoing Green Fellowship helped me transform Weird Enough from a plan into a vision. The Fellowship has helped me develop sustainable strategies for operations, scaling, and impact measurement. But above all, it helped me understand that my organization was a movement.

Fagan Harris ’14, Baltimore Corps:

Echoing Green gave me the confidence and technical assistance to move Baltimore Corps from an aspiration to a scalable, sustainable enterprise. Its community of staff, Fellows, and advisors are akin to family, answering the midnight phone call, helping to broker valuable introductions, and building transformative partnerships.

Are you ready to join us?

Echoing Green’s goal is to nurture in people the qualities that allow them to lead change. We understand that global change is a lifelong effort that requires a mindset that perseveres. We also know what it takes for social impact organizations and their leaders to not just succeed, but thrive. By sharing our expertise with social innovators like you, we make you better leaders, better at building and growing your organization, and better at advancing change and accelerating solutions to our biggest social challenges. Through our best-in-class training, professional guidance, and network building, Echoing Green stands ready to connect and support the many innovators and visionaries shaking up the status quo in communities around the world.

Visit our Fellowship Application page for more information.

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