Common Questions about the Fellowship Application

Browse topics regarding:

ELIGIBILITY
APPLICATION QUESTIONS AND WEBSITE
BMA FELLOWSHIP
CLIMATE FELLOWSHIP

 

Eligibility

How does Echoing Green define a "startup"?

A general rule of thumb is that the organization cannot be up and running with full time staff longer than two years and still be considered a “startup.” There is some flexibility on the two year rule. For example, some organizations spend much more time on research and development of their program model. They may have operated for quite some time in research mode or the management team may have only been able to commit to working on their program part-time while holding down another full-time job.

We believe that any organization that is being built to thrive should have a well-defined program model (and possibly a pilot initiated), an initial strategic plan, basic organizational infrastructure, a staffing plan, initial funding sources, and an established and functioning board of directors within two years of launching. If you do not yet have those things in place, you may still be in your startup phase and eligible to apply for Echoing Green.

I’m not sure if my proposal meets your criteria. May I schedule a personal interview or phone call to review my proposal before I decide whether to apply?

No. Echoing Green has a small staff. Annually, we receive over 3,000 applications for our Fellowship programs. If we cannot offer personal interviews to all applicants, we cannot grant personal interviews to any applicants, either over the phone or in person. Please do not contact our office requesting an appointment for a personal interview. However, you are welcome to contact us with specific questions about our process if you do not find the answer here on the website.

If I applied for the fellowship in the past, may I reapply?

Yes. If you applied for an Echoing Green Fellowship in the past, you are welcome to reapply as long as your organization meets our eligibility criteria.

My project is based outside the US and I'm not an American citizen. May I apply for a fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. We encourage applicants of all nationalities, working in any country, to apply for the fellowship. The only limitation on work location is that if your project is based in the United States, then you must have American work authorization (i.e., citizenship, permanent residence status, or a work visa). Echoing Green does not sponsor American work permits for any foreign nationals.

My project is structured as a for-profit organization. May I apply for a fellowship?

Yes, as long as you meet our other eligibility criteria. Echoing Green seeks applications for innovative organizations creating high-impact social change, regardless of profit structure.

Cash stipends awarded to for-profit organizations, or to hybrids that include a for-profit, are structured as “recoverable grants,” meaning that you agree to pay back your stipend if your organization becomes financially successful. Recoverable grants also apply to any nonprofit organization that becomes a for-profit or hybrid during the course of their Fellowship.  

Echoing Green created recoverable grants from a desire to “recycle” funding from financially successful for-profit organizations to fund future Echoing Green Fellows. While nonprofit Fellows are awarded grants, since 2011 for-profit Fellows receive recoverable grants, which are designed to be risk tolerant and inexpensive capital. In addition, if a Fellow creates a for-profit company that Echoing Green determines works toward the same mission as its original funded project or nonprofit organization, their grant will become a recoverable grant. As these Fellows' for-profit businesses achieve certain valuation or revenue thresholds, it triggers payback. If the organization does not hit the thresholds, then they do not pay us back.

The recoverable grant will trigger payback of the Fellowship cash stipend if the company achieves either USD 2 million in revenue during a fiscal year with net profit greater than zero, or is valued at greater than USD 5 million. A recoverable grant does not include any voting rights or control in the organization. If either of the trigger events occurs during the two year Fellowship, then the cash stipend is repaid; if it occurs after the two year Fellowship, Fellows will pay back the stipend, plus 3 percent annual interest. The term of the recoverable grant is during and including 8 years after the Fellowship. That is, as of when a Fellow signs the Global Fellowship contract, should their for-profit company hit the recoverable grant repayment triggers within 10 years then they must pay Echoing Green back. If Fellows’ companies don’t cross those thresholds during that time period, they never need to pay back their stipend.

What types of projects are not eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Echoing Green funds new ideas for creating sustainable organizations; we do not fund established projects (those past the startup phase) or discrete projects (projects with set beginning and end points). There are several types of projects which are not eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship regardless of their stage of development. These include:

• Research projects or school tuition

• Books, films, plays, or scripts

• New projects within existing organizations

• Faith-based initiatives (your organization cannot be associated with a religious institution or promote a specific faith. If your work has a spiritual, non-denominational element  you may be eligible for consideration)

I am currently a full time student. May I apply for a fellowship?

Yes. You may apply for our Fellowship Programs while you are a full time student in a degree program. However, you must have completed your studies by July at the beginning of your fellowship period. If you are awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship, you are agreeing to make your organization your full-time employment. If you are working towards your doctorate degree please know that Echoing Green does not provide scholarship money or fund research projects.

I currently have a full time job and have been running an organization on the side. Am I eligible to apply for a fellowship?

Yes. If your program meets all eligibility criteria and you are prepared to resign from your current full-time employment if you are selected as a Fellow.

Please note that if you are awarded an Echoing Green Fellowship, you are expected to commit no less than 35 hours per week to your organization. In other words, you will not be able to continue in your current full-time employment if you accept an Echoing Green Fellowship.

I am creating a new project within an existing organization. The new project will be completely under my control and direction. Am I eligible?

No. To be eligible for consideration for an Echoing Green Fellowship, the program must be independent and autonomous. It cannot be under the management of another organization. It cannot depend on another entity for funding or access to funds.

Does Echoing Green require that it is the sole donor of my organization?

No. We understand and encourage applicants to continue to seek funding throughout the application process and during their fellowship if selected. However, funding from Echoing Green should qualify as a significant early investment in your organization.

My organization has a fiscal sponsor. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes. Echoing Green requires Fellows to lead autonomous organizations. However, as fiscal sponsors generally only provide support and do not exert control over organizational decisions, you are still eligible for a fellowship so long as this applies to your situation.

Do I need to have 501(c)(3) status before I can apply for a fellowship?

No, you do not need to establish 501(c)(3) status or register your organization before you apply.

I have never run a social enterprise before. May I still apply for your program?

Yes. Echoing Green believes in identifying and supporting talented, yet unproven social entrepreneurs.

I have more than one idea for an innovative new program. May I submit both ideas?

No. Echoing Green only allows one submission per applicant per year. Submission of multiple applications, whether for multiple ideas or for a single idea, in a given year, will result in removal from further consideration for a fellowship.

My organization was founded by more than two people. Can we all apply for the fellowship?

No. Only two founders may apply per organization. As a result, please choose two, at most, to represent your organization to Echoing Green. However, you do not need to change your leadership structure to suit Echoing Green. Even if only two founders can be Echoing Green Fellows, you can have as many people leading your organization as you see fit.

Is there a difference in stipend for partnerships?

Yes. The Echoing Green Global, Black Male Achievement, and Climate Fellowships are two-year programs with stipend amounts of $90,000 for a partnership and $80,000 for an individual Fellow.

Are there age requirements to receive an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Yes. All applicants must be of age 18 or older at the time their application is submitted to be eligible.

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Application Questions and Website

Do application question responses have character limits?

Yes. All short answer questions on the application have a character limit provided in parentheses after each question. Spaces are counted as characters. 

I am unable to upload my resume or attach a document to my application. What should I do?

If you are having difficulty uploading your resume or attaching a file to your online application, please try the following steps:

• Check the file extension: The application only accepts documents that are either Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Adobe (.pdf) format

• Check the file size: Maximum size allowed is 100 MB.

• Try a different Internet Browser: If your computer has multiple browser options (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome), try logging back into the application in a different browser to see if you are able to upload. You may also want to download the latest version of the browser to ensure it is compatible with the application website. You can download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for free.

If you are still having issues, please send an email to fellowship@echoinggreen.org with the subject line "Resume Help." Please attach the document to the email and include your name, the email address you used on your application, and the name of your organization. We will upload your resume for you and reply back within 2 business days.*

* You must notify Echoing Green of this problem prior to the application deadline. As long as your entire application is complete with the exception of the file upload(s) AND you have emailed fellowship@echoinggreen.org to notify us of this difficulty before the deadline, your application will not be penalized or considered late. You will receive a confirmation email once we have uploaded your resume. You may not receive this email until after the deadline - please do not be concerned. Applicants who do not follow instructions will also be notified, but will not be eligible for submission after the deadline.

Should I apply as an individual or as a partnership?

Echoing Green allows up to two founders and co-leaders to apply. If you are unclear whether one or two people should apply for your organization, consider the following:

First, both partners must individually meet all of Echoing Green’s eligibility requirements, including agreeing to work full-time (minimum 35 hours per week) for the duration of the two year fellowship. Before deciding to apply as a partnership, we strongly recommend having an open conversation with your partner about his/her commitment to the organization.

Secondly, both partners must be clear co-founders and co-leaders in the organization. This means that while partners may have different roles within the organization itself, both should have equal decision-making authority and have had equal involvement in the founding of the organization. If during the review process, any partner is found to fail to meet these criteria, both applicants may be disqualified and removed from the competition.

Most Echoing Green Fellows believe the value of the informal community is greater than the value of our financial support.  Therefore, if your organization does have two clear co-founders and co-leaders, we highly encourage both of you to apply, although we do not require it. 

May I begin the application process as an individual and convert to a partnership application once I find a partner?

No. We do not allow applicants to change their application type from individual to partnership during the application process. Nor can you swap out one partner for another during the application process or during the Fellowship period.

May I attach supplemental materials to my application or submit them to your office?

No. Any extraneous materials submitted will be discarded immediately and not reviewed.

I have limited access to the Internet. Can you mail me an application or can I download a copy off your website? Instead of using your format, may I mail you my business plan?

No, you must submit your application using our online application form. If you have limited access to the Internet, we suggest printing out the application questions, so that you can work on composing your answers offline, either by hand or in a Word document. This will save you considerable time when you go online to enter your responses. Note: If you compose your answers in a word processor and copy them into our online system, you must make sure that they still fit our character limitations – including spaces.

We will not accept or review any other documents (e.g., letters of inquiry, business plans) in lieu of the online application.

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Black Male Achievement Fellowship

Do I have to be a black male to be eligible?

No. While your organization must focus on issues affecting black men and boys, the BMA Fellows are not required to be part of this population and will be chosen regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. We do expect all applicants to be able to articulate clearly why they feel a deep and long-lasting commitment to making change in this particular community.

If I am applying for both the BMA and Global Fellowships, do I need to submit two separate applications to be considered for both?

In our application process, a majority of the application is the same content across Fellowship Programs. However, if you opt-in to consideration for either the Black Male Achievement Fellowship, you will receive additional questions pertaining to that Fellowship exclusively. Applicants do not need to write their application to be competitive for both – our questions prompt you to be specific to the Black Male Achievement Fellowship when needed. 

More application advice can be found in the Help Guide that can be found on the Fellowship Apply page.

Can an applicant win both Fellowships in the same year? If not, how does the review committee decide? Can I communicate my preference?

No, an applicant cannot win more than one specific Fellowship in the same application cycle. Our review process will determine which Fellowship seems the best fit for you and your organization, and if you qualify, we will invite you to participate in the appropriate Final round.

If I am applying to both the BMA Fellowship and the Global Fellowship, how do I write my application so that it is competitive for both Fellowships?

In this first stage of our application process, our review criteria are identical across Fellowship Programs. While BMA Fellowship applicants will need to demonstrate passion and commitment for positive life outcomes for black men and boys, we would expect all Fellowship applicants to demonstrate a similar passion for whatever issue or community their application addresses. More application advice can be found on the Apply page. 

Am I eligible for the BMA Fellowship if black men and boys are a key target audience, but not the only focus?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to support positive life outcomes for black men and boys in the United States. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other beneficiaries.

Am I eligible for the BMA Fellowship if my project focuses on black men and boys in the US but also in other countries?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to support positive life outcomes for black men and boys in the United States. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other beneficiaries.

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Climate Fellowship

Is Echoing Green supporting a specific approach to Climate Change?

No.  For at least this first year of the Climate Fellowship we are interested in applications from social entrepreneurs interested in the full spectrum of mitigation and adaptation responses.  This can be anything from a US-based technological solution to a developing world-based community organizing solution. In all cases, however, applicants must meet the standard eligibility criteria for all Echoing Green Fellows.

If I am applying for both the Climate and Global Fellowships, do I need to submit two separate applications to be considered for both?

In our application process, a majority of the application is the same content across Fellowship Programs. However, if you opt-in to consideration for either the Climate Fellowship, you will receive additional questions pertaining to that Fellowship exclusively. Applicants do not need to write their application to be competitive for both – our questions prompt you to be specific to the Climate Fellowship when needed.

More application advice can be found in the Help Guide that can be found in the Fellowship Apply page.

Can an applicant win both Echoing Green Global and the Climate Fellowships in the same year? If not, how does the review committee decide? Can I communicate my preference?

No, an applicant cannot win both Fellowships in the same application cycle. Our review process will determine which Fellowship seems the best fit for you and your organization, and if you qualify, we will invite you to participate in the appropriate Final round.

If I am applying to both the Climate Fellowship and the Global Fellowship, how do I write my application so that it is competitive for both Fellowships?

In this first stage of our application process, our review criteria are identical between all Fellowships. While Climate Fellowship applicants will need to demonstrate knowledge and passion around the effects of climate change, we would expect all Fellowship applicants to demonstrate a similar passion for whatever issue or community their application addresses. More application advice can be found on the Apply page. 

Am I eligible for the Climate Fellowship if addressing climate change is an important part of my project, but not the only focus?

We expect that both your primary personal passion and the primary focus of your organization be on ways to address climate change. As long as you are able to demonstrate this passion and focus, it is acceptable to have other impact areas.

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