Open Society Foundations and Echoing Green Award Fellowships to 10 Social Entrepreneurs

NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations, in partnership with Echoing Green, awarded the Black Male Achievement Fellowship to 10 social entrepreneurs dedicated to this mission.

The Black Male Achievement (BMA) Fellows, representing eight organizations, will receive $70,000 in seed funding for their innovative nonprofits. This is Open Society and Echoing Green’s third annual class of BMA Fellows.

This is an exciting time in the field of black male achievement in the United States. In the last month, President Obama released details of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative; 11 of the nation’s leading philanthropies announced a bold plan of action to maximize the potential of the private sector to improve life outcomes for America’s boys and young men of color; and Open Society announced it would spin off its groundbreaking and innovative program, the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), as an independent organization.

It is against this backdrop of activity that we celebrate the announcement of the 2014 BMA Fellows. Their projects include educating scholars and future leaders at a boarding school in Ghana; offering job training and employment services through a mobile phone application; and expanding a membership advocacy organization devoted to reducing the United States prison population. 

Their work reflects the broad reach in the field of black male achievement, and will launch across the country, including in Chicago, North Carolina, and the San Francisco Bay area.

For the past two years, the BMA Fellows have developed innovative initiatives that have garnered national attention and funding for issues related to black male achievement. 

Khalil Fuller (2012), Jessica Johnson (2012), and Kalimah Priforce (2013) participated in a Twitter roundtable for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans in November 2013 where they discussed efforts to expand educational opportunities for black men and boys. 

The Root, an online magazine of African-American culture, named Laura Weidman Powers (2013) to its “Root 100” list of black achievers and influencers for her work to create pathways linking black men with careers in technology. 

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $2 million to Donnel Baird’s (2012) organization, BlocPower, which create jobs and finds investors for clean energy projects in black communities. 

 “Once again our partnership with Echoing Green has identified a new class of next generation leaders and social entrepreneurs whose ideas and visions hold the seeds that can give fruit to the very solutions and innovations needed to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys,” Rashid Shabazz, program officer of CBMA, said. “We have seen great returns on our investments with the BMA Fellowship and have only grown more excited with each class that seeks to disrupt systems and the status quo and push us to dream and see an America where all regardless of their race or gender have the opportunity to succeed.”

"While considered innovators in the field, the success of the BMA Fellowship has been a testament to collaboration with and mentorship by the growing field of leaders committed to improving the life outcomes of black men and boys," said Decker Ngongang, senior associate of Fellowship Programs at Echoing Green.

In addition to seed funding, BMA Fellows receive business support, consulting opportunities, and mentorship to help build their organizations.

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The Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens. Working with local communities in more than 100 countries, the Open Society Foundations support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.