The Spark Fund is a youth-led fund that invests in youth-led and youth-focused groups tackling important issues such as inequality, climate change, and mental health.

It places key funding decisions in the hands of young people representing their communities. Youth panelists design the grantmaking process, select youth-led and youth-focused grantees, and award funding.

As grantees, Spark Fund recipients have access to capacity development support and the opportunity to build connections with each other. Coupled with flexible funding, this support enables them to experiment, collaborate, and learn.

The Spark Fund is also experimenting with digital technology to make the grantmaking process more inclusive and efficient. In the Spark Fund pilot program, youth panelists used an innovative pairwise voting platform designed by Shared Nation to review and vote on eligible applications.

 

The Spark Fund Pilot Program

Global Fund for Children launched the Spark Fund pilot program in 2021 with financial support from the Avast Foundation. The pilot empowered youth panels in the Americas, Europe and Eurasia, South Asia, and Southern Africa to lead a grantmaking process in their regions.

In its first year, the Spark Fund pilot program:

  • Recruited 40 youth panelists representing 15 countries to serve as decision-makers – 76% of whom were new to making funding decisions
  • Received 790 applications globally, many from organizations that had never received grant funding
  • Awarded $546,000 in flexible funding to 56 youth-led and youth-focused groups, with grant sizes ranging from $5,000 to $15,000

 

The youth panels in the Spark Fund pilot program selected grantees from 13 countries who work on a wide range of issues, including climate justice, gender equity, disability rights, LGBTQ+ rights, mental health, and education. Spark Fund grantees are supporting peacebuilding work at the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan; fighting to end period poverty in Lesotho; building climate resilience in Pakistan; protecting Indigenous cultural identity in Mexico; and much more. Meet our Spark Fund partners here.

Read our ONE-YEAR UPDATE And the Spark Fund FAQs

The Southeast Asia Climate Spark Fund

In early 2023, GFC launched a Spark Fund round to support youth-led climate action in Southeast Asia. This two-year initiative, a partnership with Porticus and the Avery Dennison Foundation, fuels youth-led climate resilience efforts in Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A panel of youth activists aged 18 to 29 will lead the fund’s design and implementation. They 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 $10,000 to $15,000.

GFC is seeking additional funders for this initiative.

John Hecklinger and Chelsea Clinton

GFC President and CEO John Hecklinger posing for a photo with Chelsea Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Meeting in New York, where GFC committed to resourcing youth-led climate resilience initiatives through the Spark Fund. © Clinton Global Initiative

What’s Next

The Spark Fund will continue to grow, basing its direction on feedback from young leaders around the world. Up next, the fund plans to launch additional climate resilience rounds in other regions, as well as a round focused on mental health.

Climate: GFC first committed to resourcing youth-led climate resilience initiatives at the Clinton Global Initiative 2022 Meeting in New York. We are currently seeking funding partners for Spark Fund climate rounds in Latin America, South Asia, and Southern Africa. In each of these regions, we will recruit panels of young people, who will award grants to youth-led climate action efforts that are addressing community-level resilience and adaptation work.

Mental Health: GFC is also seeking funding partners for a Spark Fund round focused on the mental health and wellbeing of Black boys and young men. In partnership with the Imperative Fund, GFC will launch this round in South Africa, the UK, and the US. A panel of local youth leaders will select ten to 12 youth-led or youth-centered grassroots organizations in each region, creating a cohort of youth-led organizations building healthier communities and healthier futures for themselves.

Get Involved

The Spark Fund is a funder collaborative, and there is room for additional funders to join and help launch new rounds focused on specific themes and/or geographies. For more information, please contact Christine Burkhart.

Applications for the pilot program youth panels and grants are currently closed. Please check this webpage for application information for the Southeast Asia Climate Spark Fund.

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

Featured Stories


Featured News

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.

Contact
86-90 Paul Street
London EC2A 4NE

[email protected]