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 […]

Reflections of a change agent: Sometimes you need to shut up and listen

Last summer, the Spark team was in one of our monthly all day team retreats. We use these conversations to ground ourselves in what matters about our work and stay true to our values. To begin the day, we watched parts of two Ted talks: The first talk helped us explore the concept of excellence, […]

What Does Systems Building Really Mean?

Systems building. Partnerships. Collaboration. These are commonly-used words in the world of social change. They come from the realization that nothing exists in a vacuum – even nature’s most basic systems thrive on diversity and interconnectedness – but what does it really mean? And what does it look like on the ground? Over the past […]

Leading Social Change in the Context of Political Change

This month’s election results were hyped up in a lot of ways – a tsunami, a landslide, a bloodbath, a tidal-wave. Throughout the country, power dynamics shifted and Republicans replaced many Democratic incumbents, protected their own seats, and won open seats. Here in Colorado, where Spark is based, we may have had more of a […]

Oh DEAR – Why Experimentation is Key to Social Innovation

In preparing for a presentation at a collective impact forum in Oklahoma, I was trying to decide what I could share with a room full of social innovators that they wouldn’t already know. After seeing the line-up –including foundations, collective impact initiatives, community and political leaders – it was clear these were people with tremendous […]

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 […]

Sparking Change for the Better: Why We Don’t Need to Wait for a Visionary Leader

People ask me why the “Spark” in Spark Policy Institute on a regular basis. The answer, in short, is that change has to be triggered – there has to be that moment where inspiration meets commitment. As I’ve delved deeper into causing change through cross-sector partnerships, I am increasingly aware of the importance of that […]

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 […]

Leaving the Abstract Behind: What Collective Impact Really Means

From reducing infant mortality to addressing climate change, Collective Impact work seems to be everywhere these days.  At Spark, we’ve been excited to get involved with Collective Impact efforts at all levels, from facilitating the planning process to being the backbone to providing evaluation support early in initiatives and in the later years as well. […]

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