The Sprout Fund enriches the Pittsburgh region’s vitality by engaging citizens, amplifying voices, supporting creativity and innovation, and cultivating connected communities.
Background & Organizational Overview
The Sprout Fund is Pittsburgh’s leading agency supporting innovative ideas, catalyzing community change, and making our region a better place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
Sprout provides critical financial support for projects and programs in the early stages of development—when just a small amount of investment has the potential to yield big results in the community. Sprout projects create new initiatives, events, and organizations that help citizens take action on a pressing issue or enhance the cultural vitality of the Pittsburgh region.
Since 2001, Sprout has supported more than 500 community projects through more than $4 million of direct investment.
Directed by a board of civically engaged leaders, led by its co-founders, supported by a dedicated staff, and with strong relationships to many community organizations and regional stakeholders, Sprout has worked successfully across political and geographic boundaries to make hundreds of community-decided investments in early-stage projects, organizations, innovators, and activities.
Programs & Activities
The Seed Award Fund for Community Innovation offers grants to support, celebrate, and showcase the initiatives of creative people in the greater Pittsburgh region with the cumulative power to create a critical mass of positive change. Seed Award projects are innovative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by the community, and inspire a diverse group of participants to be more active, involved, and civically-engaged.
Sprout stewards the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network by providing catalytic support for new learning initiatives, building the learning innovation field through program design and professional development, raising awareness and understanding through knowledge sharing and enhanced communications, supporting research fellows, and telling the story of learning innovation in the region through multimedia documentation—all in an effort to provide more relevant, imaginative, and accessible learning opportunities for children, youth, and families in the greater Pittsburgh region. Sprout provides funding for new projects and initiatives in the Kids+Creativity Network through the Hive and Spark programs.
The Hive Fund for Connected Learning supports connected learning experiences in the greater Pittsburgh region that help prepare tweens, teens, and young adults for college, the workforce, and civic participation. Connected learning is a framework that re-imagines the learning experiences of young people—connecting the 3 spheres of life that matter most to them: their peer culture, their interests, and their academics. Eligible projects primarily target youth older than age 10.
The Spark Fund for Early Learning supports innovative projects in the greater Pittsburgh region that help children develop hands-on skills and digital literacies by expanding their capacity to do as well as to know. Spark projects nurture curiosity and creativity within children and encourage them to explore, examine, question, create, and re-shape the world. Eligible projects primarily target children age 10 and under.
Past significant programs include: Sprout Public Art, which enhanced the visual landscape of neighborhoods and communities by creating more than 50 works of high-quality public art from 2003 to 2010; Spring, which supported community-based projects that demonstrated the value of biodiversity and provided citizens with opportunities for meaningful participation in these efforts; Pittsburgh 250 Community Connections, a grassroots initiative supporting projects that encouraged civic engagement to commemorate the region’s 250th anniversary; Engage Pittsburgh, connecting new ideas and collaborations that emerge at community dialogue events and discussion forums to start-up resources, project coordination, and technical assistance, and, Hothouse, Sprout’s “live annual report” to the community, which served as a stage to present a sampling of some of the innovative projects and emerging leaders supported by Sprout.
Board of Directors
Dan Byers, Secretary
The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
Mark Broadhurst, Chair
Eat’n Park Hospitality Group
Fourth Economy Consulting
Mike Haggerty, Treasurer
The Hillman Company
YWCA Greater Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Filmmakers & Pittsburgh Center for the Arts
Cathy Lewis Long, President
The Sprout Fund
PNC Realty Services
Henry J. Simonds, Emeritus
PNC Financial Services Group
Allegheny Partners for Out of
School Time (APOST)
Cathy Lewis Long, Co-Founder
Executive Director & President
Matt Hannigan, Co-Founder
Deputy Director & Vice President
Communications & Documentation
Senior Program Officer,
Program & Business Operations Staff
Digital Badge Lab
Remake Learning Digital Corps
Remake Learning Playbook