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…

Evaluating Collaboration in Place-based Initiatives: Can it Move the Needle?

On October 5th and 6th, I will have the opportunity to facilitate a session on how evaluation can help stakeholders understand and strengthen cross-sector partnerships and collaboration more broadly at the Art & Science of Place-Based Evaluation. The conference is hosted by Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, and…

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…

Cross-sector Collaboration Lessons Learned: Implementing a Powerful Tool for Social Change

I was fortunate to spend the last week with 23 other cross-sector leaders who are doing amazing things – everything from changing how PepsiCo sources its fruits in order to benefit local economies and increase the nutritional content of their drinks, to scaling an evidence-based afterschool program throughout the country, to developing and disseminating an…

Family Engagement in Policy and Governance Boards

Nowadays, family involvement is a pretty big buzzword. What does it really mean, though? It is certainly true that human services agencies, community agencies, and other organizations are increasingly interested in recruiting family and youth partners into their decision-making processes. It is also true that research supports the notion that family engagement is associated with…