Social Capital and ECHO

We believe...Everyone Can Help Out

No force has the potential to do more good in a community than that which is created among people who feel meaningfully connected to one another. This is social capital - connections among people, based on trust, that enhance cooperation for mutual benefit. 

Academic research shows that when social capital is high, people in communities work better together, neighborhoods are safer, schools are more effective, health and mortality rates improve, government runs more smoothly, and resources are more equally shared. 

This is why The Winston-Salem Foundation created the ECHO Fund - Everyone Can Help Out. In 1999, The Foundation committed a minimum of $2.5 million over 5 years to be used for grants to organizations that increase our community's stock of social capital. 

The final ECHO grant was awarded in June 2005, but the Foundation's commitment to building social capital remains strong. In 2003 the Foundation created the ECHO Council, which it officially launched in November 2005.  The ECHO Council was charged by the Foundation to work as a promoter, incubator, facilitator, and advocate for social capital, models diverse and inclusive leadership and is working to create a culture of the common good where decisions are made to benefit many rather than few.  The ECHO Network, now an independent nonprofit organization, currently has a number of active projects under its umbrella.


In 2001, The Winston-Salem Foundation began presenting ECHO Awards to individuals and informal groups that were "caught in the act" of building social capital. In 2006, the Foundation and ECHO Council began jointly selecting and presenting the ECHO Awards at the Foundation's annual Community Luncheon. Each ECHO Award winner receives a gift of $1,000 to donate to a charitable organization of their choice.

Video on ECHO's history (featuring past ECHO Award recipient Jeff Smith of Smittysnotes)


©2005-2015 The Winston-Salem Foundation • 751 W Fourth St, Suite 200 • Winston-Salem, NC 27101 • 336.725.2382