WES Mariam Assefa Fund Partners with Echoing Green to Invest $1.5M in Social Innovators of Color Addressing Racial Equity and Immigrant Justice

Wednesday February 16, 2022

The World Education Services (WES) Mariam Assefa Fund today announced a new $1.5 million partnership with Echoing Green to launch a fellowship that supports immigrants and refugees of color in the United States and Canada. Through Echoing Green’s fellowship program, the Racial Equity and Immigrant Justice initiative will support up to 19 leaders, including six newly selected Fellows, addressing systemic issues of racial equity, immigration, and economic mobility, to create more equitable communities and economies for all.

Support from the WES Mariam Assefa Fund furthers the efforts of Echoing Green’s Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund which seeks to ensure that the social innovation field is an essential actor in the racial justice movement. This new partnership builds on Echoing Green’s commitment to invest in and develop the next generation of leaders to more effectively tackle and resolve often intractable systemic tensions that immigrants and refugees of color face. Echoing Green and the WES Mariam Assefa Fund are particularly interested in supporting leaders who are taking action to build wealth, realize justice, and create access to opportunities at the community level.

This partnership is significant in light of the need for leadership that better represents shifts in population demographics. Currently, 50 percent of immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico or other Latin American countries. A recent Pew Research Center report finds that 1 in 5 Black people in the U.S. is an immigrant or a child of immigrants from Africa or the Caribbean.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Echoing Green to back social innovators who are building up communities of color in the United States and Canada,” said Nomzana Augustin, senior manager of partnerships and strategic initiatives at the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. “As a funder focused on creating more inclusive economies, we seek to shift power and resources to leaders with direct knowledge and firsthand experience of their communities’ needs. This initiative will support Black, Latino, and Asian immigrants, among other communities, who add significant value where they live and work, but often go unrecognized.”

“I am delighted that the WES Mariam Assefa Fund and Echoing Green are partnering to increase support to proximate leaders driving systems change and justice forward at the intersection of race and immigration,” said Cheryl L. Dorsey, president of Echoing Green. “Listening to, elevating, and investing in the visions of immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color must be part of building toward a future where racism, white supremacy, colonialism, and xenophobia have no chances of survival—a future where all people can thrive. We know this work will have a great impact on our Fellow community, the social innovation field, and beyond.”

“As WES works to build open, equitable systems that provide access to opportunity for all, we’re proud to invest in proximate leaders who are tackling systemic issues to make this a reality,” said Monica Munn, managing director of social impact at WES. “We’re eager to learn from the Fellows supported through this partnership and to see the incredible impact they will have in addressing the structural barriers and biases experienced by immigrant and refugee communities and communities of color in workforce, education, and immigration systems.”

The initiative will provide support for up to 19 proximate leaders in the U.S. and Canada, including up to 6 new Fellows and up to 13 Echoing Green alumni. New Fellows will receive $80,000 in seed funding. Alumni Fellows will receive up to $25,000 in follow-on funding to scale their organization’s racial justice efforts. All Fellows supported through this initiative will have access to capacity-building opportunities and a community of practice.

Applications for the fellowship will open on April 19, 2022 and remain open through May 3, 2022. To read more on how to apply, visit

Reyna Montoya, Founder & CEO of Aliento and 2017 Echoing Green Fellow, speaks during a DACA demonstration. Photo courtesy of Aliento.


About World Education Services and the WES Mariam Assefa Fund

World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. For more than 45 years, WES has set the standard of excellence in the field of international academic credential evaluation. Its philanthropic arm, the WES Mariam Assefa Fund, supports catalytic leaders and organizations working to build inclusive economies and to ensure that immigrants and refugees can achieve their aspirations and thrive.

About Echoing Green

For 35 years, Echoing Green has been on the front lines of solving the world’s biggest problems, raising up the transformational leaders willing to speak truth to power and challenge the status quo. The organization finds emerging leaders with the best ideas for social innovation as early as possible and sets them on a path to lifelong impact. Echoing Green’s community of nearly 1,000 social innovators includes past Fellows such as First Lady Michelle Obama and the founders of Teach For America, Center for Black Innovation, BlocPower, and One Acre Fund. Built and refined over three decades, Echoing Green discovers tomorrow’s leaders today, and then funds, connects, and supports a new generation of social impact leaders. For more information, visit

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