The Spark Fund is a pooled fund designed and decided by youth that invests in youth-led and youth-focused groups around the world tackling important issues such as inequality, climate change, and mental health.

 

The Spark Fund places key funding decisions in the hands of young people representing their communities. Youth panelists design the application process and determine the grantmaking criteria to award funds to youth-led and youth-focused organizations. They use a multilingual digital platform to make decisions together.

Our Spark Fund partners receive flexible funding that enables them to experiment, collaborate, and learn. They also have access to capacity development support and the opportunity to build  connections with each other across the globe.

Global Fund for Children launched the Spark Fund in 2021 as a pooled fund that brings together funders committed to supporting impactful youth-led participatory grantmaking. After a successful pilot round, we’ve expanded the fund to launch additional rounds focused on mental health and climate action, two issues the youth panelists identified as urgent priorities for young people. There is room for additional funders to join the Spark Fund and help launch new rounds focused on specific themes and/or geographies.

Use the menu below to learn more about the Spark Fund.

GLOBAL YOUTH-LED CHANGE
YOUTH-LED CLIMATE ACTION
YOUTH LEADING ON RACIAL JUSTICE AND MENTAL HEALTH
GET INVOLVED

 

Global Youth-Led Change

The first Spark Fund round was led by four regional youth panels representing 15 countries in the Americas, Europe and Eurasia, South Asia, and Southern Africa. These youth panels awarded over $1.1 million to 56 youth-led and youth-focused organizations in 13 countries.

“More than a process to provide funding, it was a window to give a hand to many youth organizations so that they could continue to fight hunger, the environmental crisis, and violence, among other issues in their communities. It was also an opportunity to learn about and make visible thousands of problems and how youth leadership is willing to confront them.” – Flor Campos Rivas, a Spark Fund panelist from Peru

The youth panelists chose to support grassroots organizations in their communities that are working on a wide range of issues, including climate justice, gender equity, disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and education. Spark Fund partners are fighting to end period poverty in Lesotho; ensuring access to mental health services in Bangladesh; protecting Indigenous cultural identity in Mexico; and much more. No matter what issues they focus on, these grassroots organizations are achieving inspiring changes in their communities.

 

MEET OUR SPARK FUND PARTNERS

 

In Armenia, Frontline Youth Network supports peacebuilding work in the conflict-affected border regions. This youth-led organization has convinced the Armenian government to approve its peace education curriculum so that it can be taught in schools across the country.

Young people standing outside a house

Young people with Frontline Youth Network in Armenia. © Frontline Youth Network

In Mexico, Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales, a collective of young human rights defenders, seeks to guarantee justice for Indigenous communities. Speaking more than 64 Indigenous languages and dialects, members of the collective provide legal translation, accompaniment, and representation. The collective has been working tirelessly to advocate for inclusion within the justice system, including ensuring Indigenous people have access to interpreters and translators during trials.



Members of Spark Fund partner Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales. © Red de Intérpretes y Promotores Interculturales

In Namibia, the youth-led organization African Pathfinder Leaders Initiative (APLI) provides opportunities for young people to develop the skills, knowledge, and networks to achieve their goals and contribute to the development of their communities. Support from the Spark Fund has enabled APLI to continue its fellowship program, which is an incubator and leadership development program for young people.


APLI fellows engaged in group work. © APLI

In Pakistan, the youth- and women-led organization Rural Development Foundation (RDF) empowers women and girls to participate in climate change adaptation and resilience initiatives and policy discussions. When devastating flooding occurred in Pakistan in 2022, RDF also jumped into action to provide much-needed humanitarian support.


A Rural Development Foundation community storytelling and dialogue session. © Rural Development Foundation

 

Youth-led Climate Action

GFC first committed to resourcing youth-led climate resilience initiatives at the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Meeting in New York. In early 2023, we launched a Spark Fund round to support youth-led climate action in Southeast Asia. This two-year initiative, a partnership with the Avery Dennison Foundation, Lien AID, Porticus, and RS Group, fuels youth-led climate resilience efforts in the region.

A panel of 15 young people aged 21 to 28 is leading the fund’s design and implementation. The panelists will select a cohort of ten to 15 youth-led initiatives addressing community-level climate resilience and adaptation and award them with grants ranging from $5,000 to $15,000.

 

 

Youth Leading on Racial Justice and Mental Health

The first US-based round of the Spark Fund is focused on the mental health and wellbeing of Black boys and young men in Atlanta, Georgia, and it will kick off in January 2024.

This Spark Fund round is a partnership with The Imperative and will provide flexible funding to youth-led and youth-focused groups at the forefront of addressing mental health and wellbeing issues impacting Black boys and young men. It is supported by the Fund for Southern Communities, the Jesse Parker Williams Foundation, the Texel Foundation, and TOMS.

A panel of local Black youth leaders in Georgia will select 10 to 12 youth-led or youth-focused grassroots organizations, creating a cohort of organizations building healthier communities through advocacy, community-building, education, and more.

GFC is also seeking funding partners for Spark Fund rounds focused on the mental health and wellbeing of Black boys and young men in South Africa and the UK.


“We can’t talk about mental health without exploring the oppressive systems of gender, race, and class, since they don’t allow us to exercise our rights and reach opportunities for development,” said Mar, 25, from Voces Violeta, one of the Spark Fund pilot program partners in Peru.

 

Get Involved

The Spark Fund continues to grow, its future direction shaped by feedback from inspirational young leaders around the world. We are seeking funders to expand the climate action work to West Africa and Latin America in 2024, and we plan to develop a new round that will seek to resource groups and individuals working to advance the rights of LGBTQ+ youth in Latin America.

If you are interested in learning more about the Spark Fund or would like to join an upcoming pooled round, please contact Christine Burkhart.

 

Header photo: Children and youth volunteers pose for a photo after an art lesson offered by Do It For The Kids, a Spark Fund partner in Zimbabwe. © GFC

Featured Stories


Featured News

September 19, 2023
Global Fund for Children is showcasing its work on youth-led climate action and healthy masculinities at the Clinton Global Initiative 2023 Meeting.
February 8, 2023
The Southeast Asia Climate Spark Fund will empower youth-led climate action in the region.
November 1, 2022
The Spark Fund has awarded $546,000 in flexible funding to 56 youth-led and youth-focused groups tackling injustice and inequality and driving transformational change.
September 20, 2022
The Spark Fund: Youth-Led Climate Resilience initiative will empower youth-led climate action and disrupt the trend of underinvestment in youth-led climate work.
November 3, 2021
The Spark Fund is harnessing the power of digital technology to invest in youth-led and youth-focused groups tackling injustice and inequality around the world.

Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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