Evaluation is insight in action. That’s why when we partner with you, we emphasize obtaining reliable, meaningful insights that drive impact. We’re not satisfied if you’re not moving forward because of what you’ve learned through evaluation.
As our motto says, we’re “Good in Theory but Better in Practice”. This means applying the right level of rigor to messy complex challenges in a way that readily translates to action.
This balance in our approach to evaluation enables us to adapt to context while also obtaining insights to act on.
Ensuring society is vibrant now and in the future
We believe that for a society to be vibrant now and in the future, there is nothing more important than to support our youth, from womb to workplace, in being healthy, safe, educated, and to have social-emotional skills needed to succeed – regardless of background, race, ethnicity, gender identity, or class. Spark staff work with a broad range of nonprofit, foundation, community-based and governmental entities to support a future where youth have the opportunity to succeed.
CO 9-25, Healthy Schools, Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Council, Social Emotional Academic Learning
Removing barriers and shifting systems so that all have the opportunity to thrive
Health, health choices, and healthcare access are critical to living a healthy and productive life. We work with our clients to develop, facilitate, and evaluate strategies to address a wide range of health-related topics, including reducing infant mortality; improving services for people with disabilities; supporting healthy families and neighborhoods, testing innovative behavioral health practices; advocating for healthy eating, active living; and increasing access and ability to navigate the health system. We draw upon our work in other areas to inform our approach to addressing social determinants of health.
Community Living Quality Improvement Committe, Painted Brain;, Infant Mortality Community Navigators
Improving outcomes for young people, families, and communities
Keeping individuals out of the justice system and preventing their further penetration into the system is a charge that calls upon the entire community. Spark facilitates cross-sector dialogues and conducts system-level evaluation to support initiative and community partners to identify and implement strategies to work better together and improve outcomes for young people, families, and communities.
JJDP, Family Project, Florida Bar Delinquency Prevention Council
Creating strategies and directing resources where they are needed most
Spark’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion internally extends to our project work. Focus, responsiveness, and intentionality are critical to bring strategies and resources where they are needed the most and help overcome disparities. Across Spark’s projects, we have an eye to help our clients target strategies to be equitable in order to make a true impact, and our staff are committed to ensuring the way we do our work (evaluation, facilitation, etc.) is explicitly with an equity lens.
Collective Impact Forum, Community Living Quality Improvement Committee, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
Promoting healthy environment for healthy communities and economies
We believe that the health of the environment and climate are important to protect in and of themselves and that, because everything is connected, they are also necessary for human-kind to flourish in the long-term. Unfortunately, environmental degradation negatively impacts some communities much more than others, often due to class, location, race, ethnicity, or background. Much of Spark’s strategy facilitation, development, or evaluation is in the realm of environmental justice and environmental racism at the intersection of environmental and community sustainability and improvement.
Climate Works, Kresge Urban Opportunities, Walton Sustainable Ocean Fisheries, Resources Legacy Fund, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
Laying the building blocks to flourish through food systems
Healthy, equitable and sustainable food systems can serve as fundamental building blocks for human health, education and economic vitality while safe-guarding environmental impact. Spark’s food systems work links a number of other focus areas, including environment, health systems and youth success, by providing needs assessments, initiative evaluations, and capacity building resources. Spark team members have been engaged in work across the food system from equitable and safe employment, to food policy at the local, state and national levels, to community food security and food justice (ensuring communities have access to affordable, fresh, healthy, culturally-appropriate foods and the ability to make decisions over their food system.).
Farm to School Task Force; Co Bank, Thornburg Foundation Ag System Evaluation,
Developing all the necessary tools to achieve desired outcomes
We spend our lives predominantly within the communities we live in, and the capacity of community members often drives our ability to make positive change – whether through eliminating homelessness or increasing navigators to connect residents to basic human needs like food and safety. Spark’s work through capacity building, strategy development and evaluation activities help communities build the skills and tools they need to create and successfully work toward a common vision. Those same principles apply when building the capacity of organizations to create the impact they intend, and Spark is here to help.
Denver Foundation – Close to Home, Community Navigators
Creating opportunities, driving solutions, and supporting communities through entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship serves as a powerful equalizer of opportunity and creator of solutions when made available to all and leveraged in meaningful ways. Spark’s work in entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility leads with a focus on creativity, strategy, and equity – ensuring that healthy economies can thrive, scale, and sustain in every community. Spark supports this work through strategy planning and design, context and sense-making through data, and evaluation of efforts, implementation, and impact.
Kauffman Entrepreneurship Policy Network, St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship
Successful blending and braiding strategies require coordination, a clear vision, and collaboration
Blending and braiding are terms that are often used, but rarely defined and explained in detail because there is no single model for blending or for braiding, and each model must account for the needs of the community it serves. Planning for a blended or braided model is not just a fiscal process. Rather, it’s a process of identifying what a community or group of client needs, what funding can support and the desired outcomes. Spark has experience in facilitating those conversations.
Blending and Braiding in Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs