Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ECHOING GREEN : And The Theory Of Change

(I have quoted liberally from Echoing Green 's web site.)

Echoing Green provides first-stage funding and support to visionary leaders with bold ideas for social change. As an angel investor in the social sector, Echoing Green identifies, funds and supports the world's most exceptional emerging leaders and the organizations they launch. Through a two-year fellowship program, we help passionate social entrepreneurs develop new solutions to some of society's most difficult problems. These social entrepreneurs and their organizations work to close deeply-rooted social, economic and political inequities to ensure equal access and help all individuals reach their potential.

o Social entrepreneurs play a vital role in driving social change
o Social change is created by developing new approaches to social problems that address root causes
o The next big idea will come from a robust pipeline of new leaders with innovative solutions
o New organizations, unconstrained by tradition, are best able to challenge the status quo

o Identify Visionaries
o Invest in Innovation
o Provide Hands-on Support
o Connect People

Echoing Green also believes that the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the U.S. economy throughout its history can foster new solutions in the social sector. They take risks on undiscovered leaders when other organizations won't. They state that "Less than two percent of all foundation support is available for seed funding, making Echoing Green a leading global social venture fund that invests in new organizations at their earliest stages."

Echoing Green has invested nearly $25 million to help more than 400 visionary leaders spark positive change in 30 countries. They have done this by helping to launch "model organizations working in education, youth development, health care, housing, environmental justice, human and civil rights, economic and social justice, the arts and immigration." Echoing Green's website states that: "According to a recent study (conducted in 2004) Echoing Green fellows' organizations have raised more than $930 million in additional funding beyond Echoing Green's initial investment. Seventy-seven percent of organizations launched by Echoing Green Fellows are still in existence, and 85 percent of Echoing Green Fellows stay in leadership positions in the social sector."

Echoing Green

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

ONE ACRE FUND : Pioneers in Development Aid

Excerpted from the organization's web site with emphasis added by the editor:

"One Acre Fund is a non-profit organization started in January 2006, with the goal of completely re-thinking how to solve the chronic hunger problem in Africa. We don't give food away - handing out food will never solve hunger for more than one meal. Rather, we are pioneering a tiny investment package that will enable farm families to grow their own way out of hunger, permanently.

"We attack the number one health problem in Africa, which is lack of food. Hunger is the number one reason that one in six of our children dies before age five, and the number one reason that nearly half of the remaining children are physically stunted. We take a holistic approach to health, providing food security together with basic medicines.

"We seize an opportunity to make a permanent difference. The amazing opportunity is that the majority of the world's hungry are farmers, whose sole profession is to grow food. One Acre Fund provides a small amount of seed and fertilizer on credit, weekly farm training in the farmers' own fields, and market access. We empower farmers to grow four times more food within six months, and ten times more food value within three years. By linking our farmers with existing market-based solutions, our contributions stay with the family forever.

"We work with the poorest of the poor, people that other organizations will not touch. We deliberately target those who have been left behind. And we are not content to simply touch their lives. We will make a total change in their living conditions - health, food, income - in a few short years.

"Our investment package costs $240 per family of five, for the first year of involvement, and we are working hard to bring this cost down dramatically. This lays the foundation for a permanent solution to hunger for an entire family. I hope you will read more about our work, and consider joining our founding Investment Council. For $20 per month, you can make Africa and hunger elimination a part of your life through rich monthly portraits of our African farm families. Help us found a movement that will change how the world attacks hunger!"


At their page entitled: " How It Works ", One Acre Fund states:

"We use markets to eradicate hunger permanently. We make it possible for even the tiniest of farmers to participate in highly profitable agribusiness. We create a "market bundle" that contains all the pieces our farmers need to plant, grow, and sell new crops that multiply the value of their harvest. By linking our farmers with markets, we help them to create a permanent solution to the hunger problem."

One Acre Fund

One Acre Fund was founded by Andrew Youn who was also the recipient of the:
Echoing Green Visionary Leader Award for 2006.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

AED's : Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program

The Washington Diplomat Newspaper published an article about The Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program in its November 2006 edition, and I would like to spread the word that this program is in existence.

The article is titled Aid for African Girls and it discusses how this "U.S. Scholarship Program Helps Thousands in Sub-Saharan Africa."

The program is conducted by the
Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Washington, D.C.. AED is a nonprofit that is (among other things) distributing 87,000 scholarships to academically motivated school-age girls in sub-Saharan Africa.

May Rihani is the senior vice president of AED and heads up their Ambassadors' Girls' Scholarship Program. Rihani is also the director of the AED Center for Gender Equity. The scholarships are funded by a presidential initiative that is funded by theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) . This is part of a larger USAID effort to provide 550,000 scholarships to African girls in primary and secondary schools by 2010. AED won the USAID contract through a competitive bidding process.

Rihani says that AED works with local NGOs to provide not only the scholarships but to provide additional resources as well.

According to the article appearing in The Washington Diplomat, written by Carolyn Cosmos:

"The AED program has given 57,000 scholarships to school-age girls in 15 countries over the last two years, with a goal of reaching the 87,000 total by 2008. In addition to providing school fees, books and uniforms, Ambassadors' scholarships are grounded in community support and include mentoring. Periodic meetings, sometimes weekly, take place with a woman selected for the job by a local committee. A mentor is "neither a mother nor a teacher but a little bit of both," Rihani explained. Mentors offer academic and general assistance, monitor the girls' progress, and serve as role models.
AED, which is headed by Stephen F. Moseley (see June 2006 issue of The Washington Diplomat), is currently partnering with local support providers in Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan."

The age range of the girls is chosen by an AED selection committee is between 8 and 16. The committee gives priority to orphans living with extended families or in an orphanage and to those affected by HIV/AIDS.

According to Rihani, the primary goal of each program is to "eliminate schooling's economic burden on parents." But AED likes to call the programs "Scholarship Plus" because there are additional benefits that are derived from the program - such as encouraging the girls to help educate their families about health issues.

The AED web site states:

"The Ambassadors' Girls Scholarship Program (AGSP) is a key component of the U.S. President's Africa Education Initiative (AEI). It aims to address the constraints to girls' participation, retention and achievement at school. These include financial and opportunity costs, socio-cultural factors such as early marriage, as well as the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on girls and their families. AGSP provides comprehensive support for girls' education in the form of: scholarships at the primary level, and sometimes at the secondary level; mentoring; parent and community awareness programs to promote and support girls' education; and HIV/AIDS awareness activities to prevent and mitigate the spread of HIV/AIDS. Scholarships are intended to ensure access to educational opportunities, and are geared to needs within each country"

Visit both the Washington Diplomat article on The Ambassadors' Girls Scholarship Program , as well as the AED web site itself.