Disappointment… Our application to the Echoing Green fellowship program is no more in the race : it « did not advance in the application process » and was rated as « noncompetitive » (see their full email at the end of this post). There were 950 applicants this year. 300 projects are selected as semifinalists. Too bad we are not among these.
Given the high number of applicants, EG doesn’t tell us why our application is rated as « noncompetitive ». But if I had to bet on their rationale, and given the other semifinalists, I’d say that the 2 main weaknesses of our application were :
- it may seem to focus too much on France : wecena services can be offered to nonprofits worldwide but the business model fully relies on French legal specificities and on French corporate donors => maybe it can’t be seen as a « global » solution at this stage of development ? maybe I’ll first have to prove wecena services can benefit to non-French nonprofits, too.
- above all, it is not a « direct » solution : it does not directly aim at eradicating poverty or fighting diseases or providing resources to suffering people ; it rather gives social entrepreneurs and nonprofits access to IT skills and services which in turn can leverage their capacity to innovate ; and EG said they would favor direct solutions over indirect ones.
- maybe there is a 3rd reason, too : the wecena business model is fairly sophisticated and, even with your help, I may be suffering from the curse of knowledge ; in other words, it’s hard to communicate this model without diving into obscure details
This failure of course has negative consequences : I won’t have a week-end in New York paid by EG :) nor won’t we get 60,000 USD from them for the wecena project. Fortunately, it also has some positive consequences :
- We won’t have to draft longer essays and translate the French materials into English for further evaluation, which frees some valuable time in order to put more effort on selling the wecena concept to French IT firms ; convincing them takes so much time ! Ive been working with 3 of them for now 1 year on this project and contracts yet have to get signed…
- You helped me to write down the why and the how of the wecena program ; I could translate that into French and provide it as additional marketing materials to the nonprofits and IT firms I work with, which may turn to be a very valuable asset for getting the first IT firm to donate skills and time to our nonprofits ; when I published these materials in French, it also allowed us to officially become a partner of the MUNCI, a French union of IT consultants.
- It gave me the opportunity to work closely with the folks at the Antropia social incubator of the ESSEC business school (the number 2 business school in France, I’d say) and this convinced me to apply to their own fellowship program : they will give me their decision in March but it may be a bit easier that the EG selection because the wecena program already received a small award from them.
- The list of the 300 Echoing Green semifinalists contains some quite interesting projects in the high tech field (frogtek for instance) and I may propose them to benefit from wecena services once the money pump is started with the French nonprofits I already have contracted with. I might even get in touch with EG and propose wecena services as part of their grants to future fellows in needs of free IT skills and services, why not ?
Anyway, thanks a lot to all of you, dear friends or colleagues who contributed to the wecena application to the EG fellowship program either online or offline. Special thanks to IA_ who was an early and steady commenter, who was brought to us from Texas by the magics of the Internet. :)
If you want to give a further hand to the wecena project, you can still have a look at what’s here if you speak French (and fill the mini-survey I published there, including the part where you can spam your geeky friends), or just comment this post in English if you can’t.
Here is the EG email announcing the bad result :
On behalf of the entire Echoing Green team, thank you for your recently submitted application for a 2009 Echoing Green Fellowship. We received nearly 950 applications this year, and as always, we were inspired and encouraged by the ideas, commitment and enthusiasm for public service captured in those applications. We applaud the good work you are undertaking through your program.
We regret to inform you, however, that your application did not advance in the application process. All applications were evaluated for competitiveness. It was determined that your application was not competitive and is no longer under consideration for an Echoing Green Fellowship. All decisions are final and cannot be changed.
Please note that we review each application twice and evaluate the proposal against the selection criteria of the Echoing Green fellowship program. Designating your application as noncompetitive is specific to our application process and selection criteria and is not intended to reflect the strength of your idea or the need for the proposed program in your community. Unfortunately, based on the volume of applications we receive, we cannot provide you with individual comments on your application. However, you can find a list of the most common reasons an application is deemed noncompetitive at http://www.echoinggreen.org/noncompetitive. While we cannot provide you with specific feedback on your application, we hope that you find this information helpful as you prepare future proposals.
We wish you success in finding other sources of support for your work. While Echoing Green may not be the right fit for your efforts, we encourage you to pursue your dream of helping people and communities locally, nationally and internationally. Best of luck!
Vice President, Fellow & Alumni Programs