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Black Voices, Black Spaces: The Power of Black Innovation

August 15, 2022

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.

Getting from crisis to systems change: Advice for leaders in the time of COVID

July 8, 2020

The report recognises that we are in a crisis so deep that only far-reaching systems change can get us out of it and on a path towards a just, inclusive and sustainably prosperous world. It contains dozens of ideas across 14 key issues that are continually being fine-tuned. The report also mentions cross-cutting proposals for giving social entrepreneurs a seat at the table when world leaders meet to make decisions that will impact billions of people. This will help to break down silos impeding holistic approaches and to make it easier for social entrepreneurs to contact and collaborate with other key institutions in the ecosystem for delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals, from multilateral institutions and national governments to businesses and philanthropies. 

Racial Equity and Philanthropy: Disparities in Funding for Leaders of Color Leave Impact on the Table

May 1, 2020

Echoing Green and Bridgespan collaborated to research the depth of racial inequities in philanthropic funding. Based on what we see in our work as intermediaries in the sector, two of the biggest factors holding back philanthropy's efforts to help advance social change are rooted in race:Understanding the role of race in the problems philanthropists are trying to solve;The significance of race when it comes to how philanthropists identify leaders and find solutions.Color-blind grantmaking, even when grounded in a well-meaning attempt at equity, is the crux of the problem. Philanthropist Jeff Raikes shares: "Tricia and I recognize that we come into this work with blind spots, as did many of our staff. Over the past few years we have challenged ourselves to better understand the ways a race-conscious approach leads to better results for the communities we want to support."Race is one of the most reliable predictors of life outcomes across several areas, including life expectancy, academic achievement, income, wealth, physical and mental health, and maternal mortality. If socioeconomic difference explained these inequities, then controlling for socioeconomic status would eliminate them. But it does not. This means that donors who care about supporting social change must think more intentionally and proactively about race and racial equity.

Embracing Complexity. Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change

January 21, 2020

The is Embracing Complexity: Toward a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change, is the first-ever global effort to bring together the voices of those seeking to fund systems change with those who are delivering it on the ground.The report highlights five principles to allow donors to better support systems change:embrace a systems mindset,support evolving paths to systems change,work in true partnership with systems change leaders,prepare for long-term engagement,collaborate with other stakeholders.Importantly, this report does not offer mere hypotheses but instead highlights the best practices that are showing potential to deliver on the promise of systems change.

A Fellowship Approach to Accelerating Social Entrepreneurs

June 29, 2016

When Echoing Green, a nonprofit focused on unleashing next-generation talent, was founded in 1987, the term "social entrepreneur" was not widely used. Emerging leaders who wanted to change the world had limited options to access capital and programmatic support aside from its Fellowship program. Forty million dollars in seed-stage funding and strategic assistance to nearly 700 entrepreneurs later, Echoing Green has witnessed social entrepreneurship become a global movement.In recent years, Echoing Green has recognized two field-level trends within its Fellow community. First, for-profit business models to effect social and environmental change and impact investing (investments made to generate social and environmental impact alongside a financial return) have increased in popularity. At the same time, the business accelerator landscape has grown, and many entrepreneurs are participating in multiple programs. Globally, a plethora of accelerator programs are now employing a variety of services and funding models to launch start-ups.Echoing Green also began accepting more entrepreneurs using for-profit business models into its Fellowship and deepening its engagement with its Fellow alumni community. In 2014, it piloted an impact investing "inflection cohort" of Fellow alumni running for-profit and hybrid social enterprises. Its goal was to fill gaps in support and funding through the Fellows' common critical inflection moment: transitioning from early-stage funding to raising more sophisticated institutional growth capital.In this white paper, Echoing Green describes this impact investing inflection cohort pilot and shares the social entrepreneurs' data to shed light on how and if the inflection cohort model succeeded in enabling the early-stage social entrepreneurs to grow, attract investment, and deliver impact.

Deviation from the Standard: Funding and Supporting Emerging Social Entrepreneurs

October 1, 2015

Emerging social entrepreneurs need time, support, and financial "runway" to innovate on for-profit business models that deliver impact and financial returns. In the current impact investing market, seed grants or similar types of risk-tolerant capital, like recoverable grants, are instrumental in launching these for-profit and hybrid start-ups, but more are needed. As the social entrepreneurship field evolves to include innovative profit- and impact-generating models, new types of finance and assistance that support these innovative leaders must also emerge. To shed more light on the types of support and financing needed, Echoing Green -- a nonprofit organization with nearly thirty years of experience in supporting emerging social entrepreneurs through a highly competitive fellowship program -- provides a look into how and from where self-identified social entrepreneurs are capitalizing their businesses at the earliest stages and what type of financing and investment-readiness support they need to get to the next level. Data reported by its Fellowship semifinalist applicants proposing for-profit and hybrid business models are provided as part of its impact investing program.