03 November 2021
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 email by November 21. 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.