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Good in Theory, Better in Practice
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How we partner for purpose

Making sense of complex systems and creating powerful strategies requires practical insights. Spark leads the way in producing actionable insight through consulting, evaluation, and facilitation – help you move forward meaningfully.

Your journey of equity is good in theory but better in practice. Spark partners with you, communities, and individuals to bring tools to grow impact equitably.

Your impact craves capacity to keep pace with change and be sustainable. Spark brings personalized solutions with our hearts, heads, and hands to build your capacity for impact.

Do Good, Even Better
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AHW (1)
ClimateWorks-Foundation
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Our Partners
AHW (1)
ClimateWorks-Foundation
CI-Forum
Kauffman1
Florida-Bar
Ford-Foundation-1
BioSTL-1
Methodistlong
RMPBS-1
Thornburg
RLF
Cobank-logo
Kaiser-Permanente-Logo
Colorado-Farm-to-School
DPS_DPSBlue_lg
CDPS
Iowa-CASA-1
Family-Tree_Edit
kresge-logo
LiveWell
Lutheran-Family-Services-RM
Missouri-Foundation-for-Health1
READ-BY-4TH
CDHCPF1
TCHF
The-Atlantic-Philanthropies_logo
CDPS
CDHS
CalMHSA_logo
The-Denver-Foundation1
AHW (1)
ClimateWorks-Foundation
CI-Forum
Ford-Foundation-1
Florida-Bar
AHW (1)
ClimateWorks-Foundation
CI-Forum
Ford-Foundation-1
Florida-Bar
Our Team
Kyle Brost, is the CEO of Spark Policy Institute, where he leads an interdisciplinary team that works to create meaningful change through adaptive, strategy design and high-quality research.
Kerry Vachta

Senior Researcher

During her 30 years in community-based, participatory action research and evaluation, Kerry has partnered with organizations and people who are working to understand and create innovative community-driven solutions to systemic inequities in diverse settings. Her qualitative, quantitative and multi-level/multi-method projects and tools are tailored to provide evidence-based guidance for those working to promote social change.
Joby Schaffer

Senior Researcher

Joby leads a wide variety of evaluation work with projects ranging from homelessness to entrepreneurship. He is well-versed in many forms of evaluation to fit your needs whether that be advocacy, systems change, or anything in-between.
Amanda Valenta

Researcher

Amanda supports much of Spark’s systems change and collective impact work, but she has experience in a vast array of project work and focus areas, including education, policy systems, and early childhood development.
Daniela Hernandez

Marketing and Projects Manager

Daniela helps facilitate projects through coordination, handling logistics, organizing, research, and community engagement in a variety of settings.
Daniel Costie

Associate Researcher

Daniel specializes in community empowerment, urban development, and food security. Daniel brings to Spark understanding of social media and social network analysis.
Kara Underwood

Researcher

Kara has expertise in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research. She has led evaluation projects ranging from STEM interventions, early childhood and high school programming, to educational equity and social justice.
Evan Russell

HR and Operations Associate

Evan provides general assistance to support projects. In addition to project work, he manages organizational processes and operations, marketing outreach, and communications.
Kim Riley

RESEARCHER

Kim has more than 28 years’ experience working in community health education and research focused primarily on health disparity issues in under-served communities.
READ THE LATEST
From the Blog
For more than ten years, we have been at the forefront of using and creating new approaches and tools to address systems change and, more importantly, helping others learn to use them. As Spark has grown, we have built the skills and expertise needed to tackle complex problems throughout the country in a wide variety […]
Current systems are not working to meet different community’s needs across the Denver Metro area, especially when it comes to our educational systems, such as the early identification of young learners’ needs to the persistence of equity gaps in educational attainment and completion. In Colorado less than half of Colorado children receive developmental screenings to identify potential […]
We are committed to being open and transparent throughout our process of implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Spark. We have a lot of progress to share this month and hope it will be helpful to our staff, local community, peers, clients, and the people most affected by our work. After announcing our DEI commitment and sharing […]
In April, I had the pleasure of facilitating the Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments (ANHE) two-day strategic planning retreat. The goal was to chart a path forward that incorporated equity into their work, and we conducted interviews with members of the nursing community who were familiar with ANHE to understand how ANHE could best do this […]
Over the past few years, there has been an increasing emphasis on the need for “systems change” to achieve large-scale social impact. As someone deeply embedded in research and evaluation at the systems-level, I fundamentally believe that addressing complex problems requires system-level solutions. An increasing emphasis on systems – including a greater focus on multi-stakeholder […]
We’ve been busy this Spring! As promised, we want to be transparent in sharing our journey to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) principles here at Spark. This blog post describes our DEI updates since May. Tools for sharing and reflection One of the early activities identified in our DEI plan was to develop a […]
n May 2018, our Social Innovators Breakfast Series launched a special summer focus: Navigating the Unintended Consequences of Systems Change. Though we anticipate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) will be an important component for all events in the series, we decided to kick things off with a DEI-specific topic: Navigating the Unintended Consequences of moving from Equality […]
Housing Affordability

September 4, 2018

Our Social Innovators Breakfast Series summer focus, Navigating the Unintended Consequences of Systems Change, continued in June with a panel discussion on housing affordability. We are grateful to our three panelists for representing a range of perspectives and experiences, and for sharing their expertise and lessons learned: Claire Levy, Executive Director of the Colorado Center on Law and […]
Economic Growth

September 22, 2018

In continuation of the dialogue on the Unintended Consequences of Systems Change, our July Social Innovators Breakfast focused on Colorado’s Economic Growth. We had three amazing panelists that guided the discussion and that we owe our deepest appreciation: Jake Williams: Healthier Colorado Elizabeth Garner: State Demography Office, Department of Local Affairs Lauren Ris: Colorado Water Conservation Board They […]
Research has traditionally defined rigor as obtaining an unbiased estimate of impact, suggesting the need for experimental or quasi-experimental methods and objective, quantitative measures in order to obtain trustworthy results. Research has traditionally defined rigor as obtaining an unbiased estimate of impact, suggesting the need for experimental or quasi-experimental methods and objective, quantitative measures in […]
Community Navigator Work

March 7, 2019

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 […]
With the American Evaluation Association (AEA) coming up November 11-16 in Minneapolis, M.N., our team has been thinking about the theme of the conference “Paths to the Future of Evaluation.” We constantly challenge ourselves to ensure our values are present in our work; our practices produce actionable learning; and that we share our experiences to […]
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