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October 23, 2014 | Erica Lock

Our Building Blocks of Early-Stage Support

Echoing Green’s approach to supporting groundbreaking, early-stage social entrepreneurs runs much deeper than a two-year stipend and health insurance.

Over the past several years, Echoing Green has worked to deepen our support for our Fellows, even as we expand the Fellowship program as part of the strategic growth of the organization. Through working with–and learning from–over 600 Fellows, we’ve developed a standard rubric and clearly defined building blocks for approaching and measuring our support. We’ve also identified the need for any standardization to be flexible enough to accommodate the unique set of challenges of each individual Fellow and their innovative approaches, often unproven models, and distinct and disparate regions of impact.

Our Philosophy of Fellow Support

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With the support of USAID, we present Our Philosophy of Fellow Support, in which we outline our Individualized Fellow Plan (IFP)—an internal system for stewarding the social entrepreneurs with whom we work. Each year, new Fellows are matched with a Fellowship Associate, known internally as Portfolio Managers, who will use the IFP to support them through the following universal goals:

1. Raising money in appropriate amounts for their stage and size of need.
2. Operating according to clear, written short-term plans and goals.
3. Internalizing a philosophy of regular measurement against a documented theory of change.
4. Remaining committed to working on their issue and/or organization, at a high level of passion and energy, beyond the first two years of their Fellowship.
5. Identifying and mapping solutions for two to three additional areas that may only be relevant to that particular Fellow at that time, such as hiring an executive team or building a thought leadership capacity.

The IFP is an ongoing work in progress, and Echoing Green is committed to learning and iterating on our processes. However, we do believe that an individualized plan and dedicated support, combined with early-stage seed funding and the engagement of the Echoing Green network, leads to greater long-term successes of early-stage social entrepreneurs. In addition, by creating a dashboard of comparable data–both qualitative and quantitative–our team can see trends in both challenges and opportunities in order to constantly fine-tune our own work and goals to meet those of our Fellows and the broader social impact community.