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September 18, 2017

Who is Eligible for an Echoing Green Fellowship?

Ready to join our community of leaders? Applications for our 2018 Fellowships open September 26. Before applying, make sure to familiarize yourself with our eligibility requirements below. For more information about the application process and timeline and criteria for applicants and organizations, please visit our Apply page.

General 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?

Echoing Green has a small staff, so we cannot offer personal interviews, either over the phone or in person, to any applicants. 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 Fellow’s for-profit company achieves either USD 2 million in revenue during a fiscal year with positive net income, or is valued at greater than USD 5 million. The recoverable grant does not include any voting rights or control rights in the company. The recoverable grant repayment term applies during the two-year Fellowship and three years after. That is, as of when a Fellow signs the Fellowship contract, should their for-profit company hit the recoverable grant repayment triggers within 5 years, then the for-profit company must pay Echoing Green back. If the for-profit company does not hit one of the triggers within 5 years, the for-profit company does not need to pay the stipend back to Echoing Green.

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 that 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 toward 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 40 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.

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, Black Male Achievement 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 Black Male Achievement 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 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.

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 Black Male Achievement 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 Black Male Achievement 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 Black Male Achievement 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 Black Male Achievement 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.

Climate Fellowship

Is Echoing Green supporting a specific approach to Climate Change?

No. For 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 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.

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.

2016 Fellows Rebecca Hui, Alex Peay, Nicholas Flanders, and Kathryn Finney at their New Fellows Retreat.
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