Yesterday, the Echoing Green Foundation — an international non-profit that provides funding to “social entrepreneurs” — selected 36 organizations to share a $2 million grant for projects ranging from community driven medical response teams in India, by the Savelife Foundation, to legal representation for prisoners on death-row in Pakistan, by the Justice Project Pakistan.
The breadth and intention of these projects is, of course, impressive, but the absence of even a relative number of explicitly urban projects is conspicuous. Under the economic development category, for example, four of the seven recipients are addressing rural issues specifically, two are consultancy organizations and one addresses the exchange of remittances in Latin America.
The food, agriculture and environment category — which naturally emphasizes rural areas — does include one explicitly urban project, the Seattle-based Stockbox Grocers, a group that seeks to open grocery stores in low-income areas. But considering the vital role cities have in defining the interaction between the built and natural environments, projects addressing water management, energy consumption or sustainable waste practices, as just a few examples, would have been a welcome addition to the lineup.
David C. Hodgson, co-founder and chairman of the foundation, writes in an op-ed for the Huffington Post that “business methods are no longer a discrete pursuit for a subset of students; they form part of an essential toolkit in many disciplines.”
In the same sense, urban issues “form part of an essential toolkit” and should be integral to the sort of innovative, forward-thinking ideas funded and embraced by foundations like Echoing Green.