Global Fund for Children’s Learning Playground Issue III (2021)

By Vanessa Stevens | December 15, 2021 | Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas | Youth Empowerment

A quarterly collection of inspiring reads, listens, and updates dedicated to children’s rights, youth-led change, and grassroots power. At Global Fund for Children, we’re excited to have you join us here for a more playful approach to explore new questions, ideas, and practices that shift power to create a future where all children and youth are safe, strong, and valued.

In this issue, we explore:

What are ways to shift power when exploring new grantee relationships?

Global Fund for Children (GFC) believes creating equitable partnerships with community-based organizations around the world begins even before a grant is made. GFC is committed to partner-centered grantmaking, and the GFC team recently reflected on its scouting and selection process, creating an internal guide for exploring new partnerships. Along the way, we identified the following core principles to build trust and shift power throughout the process:

Get a glimpse of how GFC finds and connects with new partners on the ground by reading the blog post “By air, by land, and by sea: How do we find our partners?” written recently by GFC Program Manager for the Americas Rodrigo Barraza.

How can we amplify the power of network collaboration?

Young people participating in a convening in Tijuana, Mexico. © Jeff Valenzuela

Participants in a 2020 transnational conference in Tijuana, Mexico that brought together over 75 civil society organizations to advocate for the rights of migrant children and youth. © Jeff Valenzuela

The challenges civil society faces are increasingly complex, requiring a systems approach to tackle problems across issues and communities. Networks, with their power to increase the flow of ideas and resources, are a powerful way to break out of isolation and create new opportunities for collaboration at scale. Throughout its initiatives, GFC is creating spaces for community-based partners in shared environments with common goals to build trust and strengthen their connections. These processes not only lead to moments for shared learning, but also to new collaborations that emerge organically. This year, we took a deep dive to explore all things networks. Here are some of the resources we most appreciated:

We also recommend you follow network practitioner communities like Collective Mind and

What questions are emerging as we facilitate a youth-led participatory grant fund?

An applicant journey map

The youth panelists explore the questions and experiences grant applicants typically face to design their own values-based process. © GFC

In October, we launched the Spark Fund for youth-led social change with youth panelists ages 20 to 28 designing every aspect of the first call for applications in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. In December, the panel reviewed more than 100 applications and voted on more than ten new grantee partners who will receive core, flexible funding over the next two years. With our biggest leap yet into participatory grantmaking, here are some of the key questions emerging in the design process:

As this Spark Fund pilot continues, we are excited to learn with the youth panelists whose experiences will shape adaptations to upcoming youth design panels in the Americas, Africa, and Asia. Stay tuned for more insights!


Youth-led organizations from around the world are challenging funders and INGOs to trust youth. In the new We Trust You(th) Initiative, funders can commit to building more equitable partnerships with young people and receive support in a problem-solving community. GFC and our Youth Leadership Council were #inspired to participate. We hope you will too! Learn more and sign up for updates here.

Last but not least. . .

As we continue to navigate remote work, we are finding ways to stay connected by embracing our inner children, centering wellbeing, and creating moments of play. Here are some questions you can explore with your team to tap into your inner child:

Icebreaker questions

Questions to connect our inner children:


Header photo: A boat ride to visit a GFC partner in Petén, Guatemala. © GFC

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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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