(Photo by Flickr user Echoing Green NYC, used under a Creative Commons license)
It took four applications over six years, but Rising Sons cofounder Alex Peay has finally landed a fellowship with Echoing Green, the celebrated 30-year-old global nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs with an array of programs and seed funding.
Peay, who founded Rising Sons 10 years ago to help individuals in disadvantaged communities ages 18 to 35 turn their “passion into their profession” through community engagement and hands-on experience with a mentor, is now Echoing Green’s 2016 Black Male Achievement Fellow.
Besides having access to programs that will help Peay hone and scale his model, the fellowship includes $90,000 in seed funding that will be deployed over two years.
“Echoing Green is the first investor to believe in our work and give us this amount of dollars,” Peay said. “We’re going to use it to find and raise more money.”
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Peay said his nonprofit more or less operates like a “positive gang.” Members learn about the organization’s history before getting connected with a mentor inside the nonprofit’s core network of professionals. Rising Sons’ programming aims to drive economic growth in communities, but by doing so simultaneously fosters personal development and community empowerment.
But before Rising Sons can scale those initiatives, the organization has to go through a rebrand. Peay said Rising Sons has changed its name to its slogan, Ones Up. Not only is the new name gender-inclusive, but it’s a phrase that Peay said people are already familiar with.
The ultimate goal, he said, is to cast a wider net that will allow the organization to create more impact.
“We’re trying to make a model where we have cohorts,” he said. “We want to be able to expand to other cities in the next few years and across the country in the next decade.”
For now, Peay said, Philadelphia will remain home for Ones Up.-30-
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