Spark provides seed, early-stage grants

Spark advances gender equality by engaging the next generation in accessible forms of philanthropy.

We envision a world where gender equality just exists. Where women lead solutions that impact them, gender norms are not the norm, and patriarchy is overturned. We envision a world where helping humanity is integral to the human experience. Where philanthropy isn’t seen as exceptional, but as a duty we have to each other and ourselves.

Spark was started in 2005 by seven women in their 20s who were looking for opportunities to become philanthropically engaged in women’s rights. They attempted to get involved with organizations serving women around the world, but the available opportunities were exclusionary of young people. They were prohibitively expensive, lacked leadership opportunities, and inconveniently timed for those just starting careers and families.

We provide seed grants to early-stage grassroots women’s organizations working to advance gender equality and the rights of women and girls in under served communities. During Investment Committee meetings, members vote on which groups receive support and work to ensure impact. Here’s a look at our current grantees.

Who can receive a grant?
Spark provides seed, early-stage grants to grassroots women’s organizations and initiatives working to advance gender equality and the rights of women and girls in their communities (globally and in our US chapter regions: New York Metro and San Francisco Bay Area). The average grant amount is $3,000-5,000 USD, and is determined at the end of our yearly grantmaking cycle.

How are grantees selected?

Grantees are pre-selected at Vetting Committee meetings by our staff, Committee Chair and Committee Members. Successful applications proceed to Investment Committee meetings held in San Francisco and New York. Each Investment Committee meeting involves young professionals who deliberate and make decisions via a democratic voting process.

When are applications accepted?
Applications are accepted within 3 cycles: Spring Cycle deadline – March 1, Summer Cycle deadline – June 1, Fall cycle deadline – September 1. In addition to grant funding, we support grantees with pro bono professional services. Typical requests from grantees include accounting, legal, marketing and web development support. We source these services from our network of young professional members.

Criteria

All Spark grant applicants are expected to meet these criteria to be considered eligible for a grant.
You are eligible to apply, if your organization:
  • Addresses root causes: We support organizations engaged in addressing the root causes of challenges that women and girls face, which can include but are not limited to gender norms, poverty, education, economic opportunities, and access to health resources.
  • Meets an unmet need: We look for organizations that provide a service that is not currently available to women in that geographical area.
  • Employs norm shifting and innovative solutions: We prioritize organizations that use creativity to improve lives while challenging traditional norms and approaches.
  • Has leadership comprised primarily of local women: We specifically select organizations with leadership comprised of at least 50% of women from the community served.
  • Has a budget under $150K: We want to make a difference with our $3-5K grant, therefore, we support only organizations with an annual operating budget under $150,000 USD.
Moreinfo:  https://www.sparksf.org/grantmaking
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