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November SparkNews: Keeping the Momentum

Spark Policy Institute

Spark logoOur original plan for this month was to write about thankfulness – how thankful we are for you, our partners, who are the best part of what we do. We are grateful and humbled every day that we get to work alongside such inspiring people and organizations, whose efforts and initiatives are making a difference throughout the country. But we also want to touch on the election and its implications. We work with partners who have been advancing policy and community strategies to address important issues at all levels, from individual lives to how communities, cities, regions and the country respond to problems. During times of significant political and social shifts, it can be difficult to maintain the momentum of this work. Yet, the importance of it has not diminished; if anything, it is even more important.

Core to who we are at Spark is our commitment to engage in learning and reflective processes in a way that helps our partners identify what still holds true about how you can act to advance the issues you care about, and when and how you need to adapt. We also want to reaffirm our commitment to addressing inequity, ensuring voices are heard, accepted, and respected, while building capacity, in an effort to drive meaningful systems change for all.

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Our Commitment to Addressing Inequity

Spark Policy Institute

Complex problems are just that: complex. They stem from complicated interactions among multiple actors, against the backdrop of history, systems, and institutions. Within these interactions, we cannot overlook the way race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, economic status – all the things that make us unique, and the “isms” they engender – are entangled with inequities. Nor can we overlook the need to address these biases in order to drive the meaningful change we are all looking to create.

Our mission at Spark has long been to develop innovative and research-based solutions to society’s complex problems. After a summer of devastating violence and expressions of xenophobia and hate across the country – as well as outpourings of generosity and stories of strength – we are more committed than ever to addressing structural inequities head-on in order to create meaningful systems change.

A few years ago, we developed Spark’s organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion:

Spark Policy Institute believes diverse perspectives are key to achieving meaningful change. We are committed to fostering an organizational culture where all people are treated fairly; supporting communities with tailored approaches that lead to a successful future; and ensuring all voices are heard, particularly those most affected by the change.

Since then, we have been working to actualize this commitment, ensuring it is not just words; that it is embedded in our relationships, work, and culture. What does this mean in practice? It means we:

  • Recognize the assets, diverse voices, perspectives, and knowledge communities bring to the table in a way that fosters trust, respect, and acceptance.
  • Approach all of our interactions with integrity.
  • Keep equity front and center.
  • Respect lived experience and social identity.
  • Continue to focus on internal and external capacity-building, providing fair and equitable access to culturally-appropriate tools, learning, and support.

While we cannot dismantle centuries of institutional “isms” overnight or in isolation, we can each take steps toward a more just, equitable world. We can show, through words and deeds, that we are committed to driving meaningful systems change. Complex problems take time, resources, and hard work to solve. We believe with diverse voices, innovation, and continued dedication, they can be solved.

And we won’t stop until they are.