The Youth Spark: Spark Fund panelists reflect on their experiences

By Nasra Ayub | August 29, 2022 | Africa & The Middle East, Asia, Europe & Eurasia, The Americas | Youth Empowerment

This blog was originally published by the Avast Foundation

Global Fund for Children’s Spark Fund Programs Associate, Nasra Ayub, shares her reflections on a recent Spark Fund webinar.

To celebrate International Youth Day, Global Fund for Children’s Youth Leadership Council organized The Youth Spark – a webinar with Spark Fund youth panelists from Asia, Southern Africa, Europe, and the Americas. These young people and their fellow panelists made key decisions for the Spark Fund, a participatory fund established by GFC and the Avast Foundation. The panelists recently selected 56 youth-led and youth-focused organizations in 13 countries to receive flexible funding and capacity development.

During the webinar, attendees heard from the panelists on their experiences leading the design and decision-making of the Spark Fund in their regions. I was joined by GFC’s Youth Leadership Council Chair Solomon Ndondo and Spark Fund panelists Mouesanao Kandjoze, Irina Novac, Amar Lal, and Bicky Bohórquez.

Spark Fund webinar participants

Nasra Ayub (top left) and Solomon Ndondo (bottom left) with Spark Fund panelists Bicky Bohórquez, Mouesanao Kandjoze, Amar Lal, and Irina Novac.

One of the highlights from the webinar was hearing the youth panelists discuss the need for youth voices in philanthropy, especially as they bring knowledge of the current issues that exist in their communities and the solutions needed to tackle them. We see that young people are often at the forefront of providing solutions to global social justice issues. Yet they are continuously missing from key decision-making spaces in philanthropy.

“[W]e do know what are the social realities of young people because we are young people living in our countries,” said Irina Novac, a Europe and Eurasia Panelist, during the webinar.

It was fascinating to hear from the youth panelists on the process of grantmaking from their perspective. For the panelists, it was important to have a trust-based approach to the designing and decision-making of the fund. This included easing the burden on communities and organizations by designing applications with simplicity and trust as key values.

Freedom was another theme during the webinar. The panelists said they valued the freedom they had to make decisions based on their knowledge and experiences and to decide as a group. A panel member also mentioned the role of GFC in empowering the panel to resolve conflicting views and reach a consensus on decisions without influencing the decision-making process as a moderator.

“You are the youth leader and now you can decide for your city and your country what they need. You get to choose, it was amazing,” said Amar Lal, a South Asia Panelist, during the webinar.

At the end of the webinar, the audience asked questions about how the panels were able to reach a diverse range of applicants for their regional Spark Fund application calls. The panelists said that challenging traditional forms of grantmaking and embracing flexible funding was a high incentive for applicants. The Spark Fund received more than 750 applications globally!

The panel also emphasised the need to continue to shift power to young people in philanthropy as youth voices are needed and the urgent demand for funding for youth civil society continues to grow.

If you want to find out more about the Spark Fund, please contact the team at [email protected]. You can watch the webinar here.

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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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