Community Navigator Work

This last month, in partnership with the Denver Foundation’s M. Julie Patiño, Barclay Jones, and LaDawn Sullivan; Joby Schaffer wrote an article featured in The Foundation Review. The article, Community Navigation as a Field of Practice: Reframing Service Delivery to Meet the Needs of Communities’ Marginalized Populations, calls out lessons learned through the Basic Human Needs Navigator…

Three Tips for Making Network Analysis Actionable for Your Social Impact Project

Many of our partners have adopted what Jed Miller and Rob Stuart called “Network-Centric Thinking.” They recognize that long-term sustainable progress on today’s social problems rarely comes from the efforts of a single organization. Rather, progress requires a strategy involving networks of organizations with the aim of producing network effects. However, the strategist and evaluator’s…

Summer Spark News: Making the Commitment

Our mission at Spark has long been to develop innovative and research-based solutions to society’s complex problems. After a summer that has seen devastating violence and expressions of xenophobia and hate across the country – as well as outpourings of generosity and stories of strength – we see more than ever the need to address…

Our Commitment to Addressing Inequity

Complex problems are just that: complex. They stem from complicated interactions among multiple actors, against the backdrop of history, systems, and institutions. Within these interactions, we cannot overlook the way race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, economic status – all the things that make us unique, and the “isms” they engender…

Redefining Rigor: Describing quality evaluation in complex, adaptive settings

This blog is co-authored by Dr. Jewlya Lynn, Spark Policy Institute, and Hallie Preskill, FSG. The blog is also posted on FSG’s website: www.fsg.org  Traditionally, evaluation has focused on understanding whether a program is making progress against pre-determined indicators. In this context, the quality of the evaluation is often measured in part by the “rigor”…

Planning for Adaptation

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last decade thinking about, experimenting with, and refining tools for planning in complex, adaptive settings. As we put together Spark’s Adaptive Planning Toolkit, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect back and think about the genesis of the tools and what we have learned over the years. I…

Community Engagement: Nine Dos and a Don’t

There is power in voices coming together to protest a broken system or to heal communally after a system has hurt them, whether through hashtags on social media or through US Representatives raising their hands in protest on the floor of the House. But there is greater power in listening to those who stand to…

Working with the Faith Community to Spark Social Change

This month, we’ve looked at how to use the private sector to scale change.  Now I want to shift the focus outside of the public/private realm and look at the role other groups can plan in creating meaningful change: specifically, the role the faith community can play in bringing attention to and energizing people around…

Scaling Change: Market Forces are Part of the Solution

I’ve been thinking about this issue of how to scale social innovation a lot lately. When I was at the D.C. Presidio Fellowship week, we talked with the Social Innovation Fund. Their focus is on mobilizing public and private resources to find and grow the best community solutions. They identify evidence-based strategies that can make…