Welcome to Spark Policy Institute
Spark Policy Institute helps develop innovative, research-based approaches to help our partners solve complex societal problems that defy easy solutions. Through its culture of participation and innovation, Spark brings new energy to identifying solutions to complex policy problems, partnering to create meaningful and sustainable change in communities and organizations.
Since 2004, Spark has been a national leader in using community engagement, fiscal integration, evaluation in messy settings and real-time strategic learning to address some of the most challenging policy issues in its home state of Colorado and throughout the country. The Spark team also brings many other skills to bear when solving complex problems, including facilitation, community engagement, consumer leadership development, applied research, policy development and more to help policymakers, communities and advocates to do good, even better.
Tools for Social Innovators
Do you ever find yourself frustrated when trying to put great social change theories into action? Or perhaps defaulting to the same old approach even when you know it isn’t quite the right tool? The Spark Tools for Social Innovators series contains innovative, research-based, and practical tools to help foundation, nonprofit, business, and community change agents better solve complex societal problems that defy easy solutions.
Click here to learn more about the series.
The Spark Desk
In an era of rising youth obesity rates, chronic health problems related to diet, and the growing evidence that proper nutrition is essential to academic success, school meals are more important than ever. However, schools often can't find enough local farmers able to sell to them. The Farm to School Grant Program (
HB 15-1088), the result of work by Spark and the Colorado Farm to School Task Force, addresses barriers faced by local producers, enabling them to sell directly to schools.
Read more about the bill and Spark's work in an Op-ed by Dr. Lyn Kathlene on Health News Colorado.
New at Spark
We're kicking off our 10 year anniversary with a year of "Tools for Social Innovators", a series of toolkits and webinars designed to help you do good, even better.
Click here to learn more about the toolkits, or here to register for our first "coffee break" webinar on the developmental evaluation toolkit, October 29 at noon.
How Can Real-time Learning Help Improve Grant Effectiveness?
Read about lessons learned on how organizations and evaluators can foster learning to improve effectiveness in an article from the Foundation Review. The article looks at Project Health Colorado, a three-year strategy to build public will for access to health for Coloradans, and how the Colorado Trust and Spark used a strategic learning model to improve grantee effectiveness during the grant period and beyond.
Read the article
Interested in advocacy field building?
Check out a brand white paper by Dr. Jewlya Lynn, Spark CEO, for the Center for Evaluation Innovation. The report is full of practical ideas and methods for assessing advocacy fields and evaluating advocacy field-building initiatives.
Colorado's Farm To School Takes Root, But Challenges Still Abound
Eighty-four school districts in Colorado now source local food in some fashion, a drastic change from 20 years ago. Read more about Spark partner, the Colorado Farm to School Taskforce is addressing challenges and opportunities in bringing the farm to Colorado schools in a story by KUNC.
Read the article
Spark's work on a Collective Impact initiative in Missouri on infant mortality is highlighted in a new guide from FSG and the Collective Impact forum. The guide provides insight on how to evaluate Collective Impact initiatives, which, like the problems they were created to solve, are often multi-dimensional, complex and messy, meaning traditional evaluation methods often fall short. To read more about Spark's involvement with this initiative, check out our