November 3, 2021 – WASHINGTON, DC and PRAGUE – Global Fund for Children (GFC) and Avast Foundation today announce the Spark Fund, a new fund to support youth-led and youth-focused groups around the world that are tackling injustice and inequality, driving transformational change, and building a more inclusive world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened inequalities across the globe and created an opening for change. GFC and Avast Foundation established the Spark Fund based on their shared commitment to empowering the next generation to promote human rights in the digital age. Additional partners Catch22 and Shared Nation are providing research support and technology development.
The Spark Fund puts key decisions in the hands of youth and provides young leaders and their organizations, networks, and movements with flexible funding and capacity development. Through a participatory grantmaking process, regional youth panels in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe and Eurasia will make funding decisions using a unique and interactive technology platform. A global steering group consisting of young people from GFC’s Youth Leadership Council and Avast Foundation’s Youth Leadership Board, along with representatives from the fund’s partner organizations, is providing strategic oversight.
“Together, we can champion youth leadership, ensuring that young people have the tools and resources to develop new solutions to existing problems,” said GFC President and CEO John Hecklinger. “Youth have shown incredible resilience and innovation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and they deserve more than a return to the status quo.”
“We know that young people have a unique perspective, and we are excited to encourage investment in their innovation and creativity to address persistent social issues,” said Shane Ryan, Global Executive Director of the Avast Foundation. “The work of building a more inclusive and equitable world is a journey of generations, and we are proud to support the young people who are already building the path toward that future.”
The first round of grants will be disbursed to youth-led and youth-focused groups in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Groups from these countries that are interested in applying should apply here by November 30. Ten panelists aged 18 to 30 from Europe and Eurasia are currently designing and leading the grantmaking process in this region. Applications for youth panelists from Africa, Asia, and the Americas will open in 2022.
“We’re excited to be working alongside Avast Foundation and Global Fund for Children as part of the Spark Fund to develop a sector-leading approach to online social engagement and digital citizenship,” said Kat Dixon, Director of Partnerships at Catch22. “We’ll be finding new ways for young people to thrive online, equipping them with the skills they need in an online world and preparing them to handle the challenges.”
The innovative technology platform supporting the Spark Fund will facilitate democratic decision-making and enable young leaders to engage in learning, networking, and capacity development across borders. The platform will also emphasize testing and learning to ensure the final product works for youth-led decision-making, while protecting the digital security and privacy of users.
The Spark Fund is currently seeking additional funders. For more information, please visit globalfundforchildren.org/initiatives/the-spark-fund/ and foundation.avast.com/ourwork/programs/spark.
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Global Fund for Children
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Global Fund for Children partners to build a world where all children and youth enjoy equal resources and opportunities in society and live free from violence, discrimination, and exploitation. To that end, GFC invests in innovative local organizations, helping them deepen their impact and develop their capacity for social change. Together, GFC and its partners advance the rights of children and youth facing poverty and injustice and equip them with the tools and skills to reach their full potential. Since 1997, GFC has invested $51 million in more than 900 organizations, reaching more than 11 million children and youth worldwide.
The Avast Foundation was founded by Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy, in 2021 to help empower digital citizens across the globe by supporting digital freedom and citizenship. It builds on a decade-long program of extensive philanthropic activities conducted in countries with Avast offices and employees. The global foundation works in partnership with people and communities, NGOs, charities, and educational institutions to tackle issues of digital exclusion, remove barriers to digital access, and champion digital citizenship and civic participation. Its programs are designed to deliver meaningful change and help shape a world where technology plays a positive role in building and sustaining communities.
Catch22 has been a charity for 200 years. Today, we work across children’s social care, deliver alternative education, get people into work through apprenticeships and employability programs, build stronger communities through social action, and deliver social justice and rehabilitation services (in prisons and in the community). We invest in new ideas that will improve outcomes for our service users. We deliver reform through our existing services, in partnership with others and by building new organizations. As a social business, we have the heart of a charity and the mindset of a business.
Shared Nation is a collective giving platform that allows groups, large and small, to make effective and fair decisions together about how to invest pooled resources in good causes. The platform creates an educational, enjoyable, and efficient digital experience, empowering participants to have a bigger impact together than they would alone.
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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