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Accelerating Appalachia founding director chosen for Echoing Green Fellowship

Of thousands of applicants, our own Sara Day Evans was selected for the Echoing Green fellowship!!

Echoing Green today announced the recipients of its 2018 Fellowship for emerging leaders, providing seed funding, training, and programmatic support, and access to a large network of investors, supporters, and thought leaders to 35 for-profit and nonprofit entrepreneurs tackling the world’s most pressing issues—from systemic racism to climate change. With the help of this award, which comes with seed-funding, Sara Day Evans will be able to expand Accelerating Appalachia, a nature-based business accelerator that promotes regenerative land practices and equitable inclusion of producers of food, fiber, and forest products in the Appalachian region.

Since 2015, Accelerating Appalachia has run a 12-month accelerator program for growth-stage, nature-based businesses to regenerate the people and places of Appalachia. The program provides coaching and mentorship to businesses, and connects them to investors, customers, and supply webs. The acknowledgement from Echoing Green will support the accelerator to implement its new Soil & Soul Curriculum, created in collaboration with equity coach Desiree Adaway, resiliency expert Laura Lengnick, and climate storytelling expert Dayna Reggero. In the coming years, Accelerating Appalachia hopes to scale their curriculum to in-need communities globally.

This year’s Echoing Green Fellows are working on everything from harnessing artificial intelligence and data to tracking police interactions with communities of color in the U.S. to reducing plastic in the environment through innovative chemical processing techniques that allow the re-use of previously-unusable plastic waste. They come from across the globe, working in eight different countries and ten different cities and states, including Brazil, India, Kenya, Oakland, Detroit, St. Louis and more. Each Fellow has an innovative and promising solution to address urgent social and environmental challenges worldwide.

Echoing Green selected the 35 talented winners from a pool of 2,847 individual applicants proposing work in 155 different countries. View the full list of 2018 Fellows here:

“We believe in supporting not just the big ideas for positive social change, but in investing in the bold and talented people behind them,” said Echoing Green President Cheryl L. Dorsey. “That’s why Echoing Green is creating an ecosystem to support our past, present, and future Fellows with the tools they need to thrive. We are excited to welcome the 2018 class into a lifelong support network that can help make their ideas reality for years into the future.”

Accelerating Appalachia is one of only several Appalachian programs to receive Echoing Green’s award out of its 800 fellowships over 30 years. The region has relied for decades on just a handful of industries – textiles, logging, tobacco, and coal – that have exposed families to high risk of job loss and pollution. Evans’ program aims to accelerate a new kind of Appalachian economy, one that prioritizes land-based and historically underinvested entrepreneurs.

Wendell Berry – a prominent Kentucky poet, author, thought leader, father of sustainable agriculture, and longtime friend to Evans – wrote a recommendation for Evans to Echoing Green. “What interests and pleases me most is her interest in founding the local economies of Central Appalachia and other needy and neglected rural areas upon the local land, people, and resources,” wrote Berry. “This seems to me far more promising than the ever-popular political scheme of ‘bringing in industry.’”

Echoing Green is a global organization that identifies social entrepreneurs with the greatest potential to make lasting change and invests deeply in their success. The organization provides seed funding of up to $90,000 and leadership support for two years to accelerate the growth of high-potential leaders and their organizations. As a Fellowship awardee, Evans will join a lifelong global network of philanthropists, investors, and entrepreneurs.


About Accelerating Appalachia: Accelerating Appalachia cultivates nature-based businesses in food, clothing, shelter, and wellness to regenerate people and place. We run a 12-month accelerator that includes a three-month intensive and nine months of one-on-one follow-up mentorship. We prioritize growth-stage businesses led by women and people of color who sell basic-needs products sourced from thousands of local, land-based growers such as farmers, foresters, and botanical harvesters. Through this model we support regional employment and keep hundreds of growers on the land, aiding them with good land use practices for improved soil health and carbon sequestration.

About Echoing Green: Echoing Green identifies tomorrow’s transformational leaders today. Through its Fellowships and other innovative leadership initiatives, Echoing Green spots emerging leaders and invests deeply in their success to accelerate their impact.

Echoing Green has been ahead of the curve for more than 30 years, supporting visionaries around the world who are transforming economies, racial and gender equity, and environmental sustainability. Echoing Green’s unparalleled community of talent consists of nearly 800 innovators who have launched Teach For America, City Year, One Acre Fund, Public Allies, and more. The organization provides seed-funding and leadership development to a new class of Fellows every year and welcomes them into its lifelong community of leaders.