The Spark Fund for Early Learning at The Sprout Fund
The Sprout Fund, in support of the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network, provides catalytic funding to support innovative solutions and imaginative approaches to learning that are open and accessible to all children, youth, and teens. Through Spark for young children and Hive for youth & teens, Sprout catalyzes small-scale and first-time projects that create more relevant and impactful Early Learning opportunities in Pittsburgh, Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
The Spark Fund for Early Learning at The Sprout Fund 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.
Applications for Spark funding are accepted on the first Friday of every even-numbered month (February, April, June, August, October, and December). Funding recommendations are typically announced six weeks later. The average grant size is $10,000.
Friday, February 7, 2014 @ 5pm for applications requesting up to $15,000.
Applications requesting $5,000 or less are welcomed on an ongoing basis.
How to Apply
Before preparing an application, familiarize yourself with the Program Guidelines, review Eligibility Information for Prospective Sprout Applicants, and download the Application Questions and Required Attachment Templates.
A complete application MUST include all required elements: cover sheet (page 1 of Application Questions), narrative response to application questions, budget, timeline, and references.
You may also send your application materials as attachments to email@example.com. Postal mail or hand delivery submissions may be addressed to The Sprout Fund / Attn: Catalytic Funding / 5423 Penn Avenue / Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206-3423, but please be prepared for a follow-up request to submit your information electronically.
Spark funding support is available in amounts up to $15,000. Although each project is different, grants are generally made to support initiatives that include the following characteristics:
- Creative & Innovative: supports inventive solutions and imaginative approaches to learning.
- Collaborative & Cooperative: works with multidisciplinary teams in mutual support of shared goals and objectives.
- Equitable, Accessible & Open: promotes the productive exchange of ideas and opportunities for all.
- Engaging & Participatory: connects to the personal and shared interests of children, youth, and teens, and provides opportunities for them to actively produce, create, experiment and design.
- Experimental, Catalytic & Transformative: tests promising new ideas with the power to advance learning.
- Relevant & Impactful: offers enriching experiences attuned to the needs and potential of children, youth, and teens.
In general, Spark projects serve children younger than 10 years old, from early childhood and Pre-K through elementary school years. Spark also serves families, caregivers, and those that help children to grow, learn, play, & discover their passions.
Eligibility & Decisionmaking
The Sprout Fund accepts applications from non-profit organizations, coalitions of organizations, community groups, and individuals. Please review Eligibility Information for Prospective Sprout Applicants before submitting an application.
The Spark Fund for Early Learning Decisionmaking Committee reviews funding requests and makes recommendations to The Sprout Fund Board of Directors for awarding grants and other forms of support. The committee includes practitioners serving youth and teen audiences, classroom teachers and informal educators, technology and media innovators, parents and caregivers, and managers of successful past Sprout projects.
Support for Prospective Applicants
Sprout encourages prospective applicants to contact program staff in advance of preparing an application and take advantage of several support services available to prospective applicants.
Information sessions are hosted on the 2nd Friday of every month at noon at Sprout’s office at 5423 Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh. Draft applications can be reviewed upon request up to one week prior to the deadline. And, Sprout hosts occasional working breakfast sessions prior to major deadlines.
Make general inquiries or ask other applications questions via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (412) 325-0646.
Program Background & History
The Sprout Fund’s Spark program was established in 2009 through the generous support of The Grable Foundation. For the first three years of its activities, Spark served principally as a mechanism to seed projects and innovation within an eclectic and talented interdisciplinary working group of creative innovators, known as Kids+Creativity. In 2012, supported by deep commitments from The Grable Foundation and other regional funders, Sprout assumed responsibility for the strategic stewardship of the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network. Today, Spark is a sister program to the Hive Learning Network in Pittsburgh, which is also operated by The Sprout Fund.
About The Sprout Fund & The Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network
The Sprout Fund is Pittsburgh’s leading agency supporting innovative ideas, catalyzing community change, and making the 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.
Learn more about Sprout’s funded projects at www.sproutfund.org/projects.
Sprout supports the Pittsburgh Kids+Creativity Network by providing catalytic support for new learning initiatives, building the field through program design and professional development, raising awareness and understanding with improved knowledge sharing and enhanced communications, 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.
Learn more about Kids+Creativity at remakelearning.org.
Support for Spark
Spark is generously supported by The Grable Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Buhl Foundation, McCune Foundation, and The Pittsburgh Foundation.