The 2013 Echoing Green and Black Male Achievement Fellowship applications closed just a few weeks ago and we have been excitedly reading thousands of ideas to drive big, bold change in the world. As one of the only early stage funders with a totally open application process, we are in a unique position to recognize trends in the social entrepreneurship sector—here is what we’re noticing:
After several years of nearly exponential increases in application numbers, this year we saw a small decline—2,872 in total between our two Fellowship programs.
Although we never try to predict too precisely how many applications we will get, we were not totally surprised. This year we cut back substantially on our broad outreach (fewer mass emails, for example) and chose to focus our efforts on communities that have too often been underrepresented among social entrepreneurs.
Interestingly, while applicants for the Echoing Green Fellowship fell by 10% across all categories, the application decline for the Black Male Achievement program was much more nuanced. We saw a 10% decline in applicants under 30 years old—but a whopping 50% drop in older applicants. While last year the BMA applicants trended a bit older than our EG applicant pool, the median age of our BMA applicants is now almost exactly in line with our EG applicants.
The percentage of women applying to the Fellowships remained steady, as has the number of the applications from US Latinos and African-Americans. We received applications from 126 countries—quite similar to last year—a trend that indicates social entrepreneurship remains strong globally.
The biggest shift we continue to watch from year to year is the number of applicants launching for-profit and hybrid organizations. This year, these two business models make up forty-one percent of the applicant pool—an increase of ten percent from just two years ago. And while poverty alleviation and economic development remain among the top issues applicants hope to tackle, we are noticing more and more projects addressing issues of global health and food security around the world.
We remain inspired and humbled by all of these individuals working to drive change around the world—join our email list to be the first to hear about the next steps in our selection process.
A special thank you goes out to our Fast Track Partners, who were instrumental in helping us find this first round of the world’s most promising solutionists.
What do you think of these trends? Are they surprising to you? Do they conflict or align with shifts you see in your own work? Comment below, or on our Facebook page.
image: 2012 Finalists at the 2012 Big Bold Benefit