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After 17 successful years, The Sprout Fund will sunset in 2018.

The Sprout Fund improved Pittsburgh by inspiring and nurturing people with innovative, grassroots ideas to positively impact their communities.

Helping others become catalysts for civic change has defined our organization for nearly two decades. More than $7 million of community-decided investments went to 1,100+ people, projects, and ideas.

Our pioneering efforts to achieve this mission have spread further and wider than we could have imagined.

Now, a cultural shift has taken root and our community is stronger and more resilient. It’s a good time to sunset.

Thank you, Pittsburgh. This work was only possible because of deep, trusting relationships with all who shared their ideas, money, leadership, and time.

All of us at Sprout

Cathy Lewis Long & Matt Hannigan, Sprout’s Co-Founders

Cathy Lewis Long & Matt Hannigan

Sprout’s Co-Founders / photo: Rob Long

Final Plans

As an investment in Pittsburgh’s bright future, we are documenting our best practices, sharing our enduring values, and giving the rest of our money away.

Field Guide


We’ve documented nearly 20 years’ worth of lessons learned and best practices to help others catalyze positive change and cultivate connected communities.

Access the Field Guide

Last Will & Testament


We’ve looked back on the beliefs and ideals that guided our work from 2001 to 2018 and shared our reflections for Pittsburgh’s continued bright future.

Read the Will & Testament

$1,000 Legacy Awards


We’ve named representatives of the next generation of “Sprouters” who have committed to carrying our vision forward and provided them with grants of $1,000 to help get them started.

View the Awardees

Legacy Awards

Sprout now lives within thousands of people working hard every day to make Pittsburgh better for all.

We called on the community to help us find individuals that embody these Sprout ideals. We received more than 500 nominations for more than 300 awesome people. 50 exceptional Pittsburghers were selected to receive $1,000 Legacy Awards. Each has committed to carrying our vision forward by tackling the pressing challenges of today and tomorrow in their own communities, and inspiring others to do the same.

You will know these “Sprouters” by their good works. And you’ll recognize them as:

Driven by deep personal passion and sense of purpose ¤ Audacious thinkers with small starts and big plans ¤ Serious about their work but not always about themselves ¤ Creative doers with uncanny insights and avant-garde approaches ¤ Challengers of the status quo and unrelenting in their pursuits ¤ Quirky, scrappy, and authentically Pittsburgh ¤ Civic-minded, tireless pioneers always with their eye on what’s needed next

Filter by Sprout Ideal:
  • All
  • driven by deep personal passion and a sense of purpose
  • a creative doer with uncanny insights and avant-garde approaches
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Medina Jackson

Medina Jackson

imedina78
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Casey Droege
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Taliya Allen

Taliya Allen

Lifeinthepudding
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Quincy Kofi Swatson

Quincy Kofi Swatson

quincykofi
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Heather E. Tomko

Heather E. Tomko

theheatherrepor
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Julius Boatwright

Julius Boatwright

julboatwright
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Alec Rieger

Alec Rieger

alec_rieger
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Tim Kaulen

Tim Kaulen

t_kaulen
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Leah Lizarondo

Leah Lizarondo

leahlizarondo
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Adil Mansoor

Adil Mansoor

adilman
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Emmai Alaquiva

Emmai Alaquiva

Emmai_Alaquiva
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J. Thomas Agnew III

J. Thomas Agnew III

Thomas_JENESIS
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Eric Boerer

Eric Boerer

erokeric
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Betty Lane
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DS Kinsel

DS Kinsel

DSKinsel
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Dana Bishop-Root

Dana Bishop-Root

danamindlbr
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Adam Nelson

Adam Nelson

cityofplay
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Ngozi Walker Tibbs

Ngozi Walker Tibbs

gozi18
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Knowledge Hudson

Knowledge Build A. Hudson

knowledgebuild
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Rosamaria Cristello

Rosamaria Cristello

latinocommunitycenter
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Elaine Harris-Fulton

Elaine Harris-Fulton

WAKEUPtheVOTE
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LaTrenda Sherrill

LaTrenda Leonard Sherrill

Trendabelle
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Cecelia Ware

Cecelia Ware

Infinitelifesol
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Alisha B Wormsley

Alisha B Wormsley

Alishabwormsley
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Raqueeb
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Sangya Gyawali

Sangya Gyawali

ssgyawali
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Shad Ali

Shad Ali

shadali_
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Terri L. Baltimore

Terri L. Baltimore

terribaltimore
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Mike Capsambelis

Mike Capsambelis

mikecaps
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Ryan Lammie

Ryan Lammie

ryanlammie
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Anne Marie Toccket

Anne Marie Toccket

amtpgh
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Liana Maneese

Liana Martina Maneese

lboogiepgh
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Josiah Gilliam

Josiah Gilliam

josiahhimself
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Kenny Donaldson

Kenny Donaldson

Kenny_D_PGH
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Chris Ivey

Chris Ivey

hyperboymedia
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Kelauni Cook

Kelauni Cook

Kelauni_J
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Nina Marie Barbuto

Nina Marie Barbuto

nbarbuto
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Sue Kerr
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Gisele Fetterman

Gisele Barreto Fetterman

giselefetterman
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Bekezela Mguni

Bekezela Mguni

zamiqueen
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Annia Aleman

Annia Aleman

AnniaAleman
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Naomi Chambers

Naomi Chambers

naomibdaygirl
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Lisa Freeman
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Satvika Neti

Satvika Neti

satvikaneti
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Rebecca Himberger

Rebecca Himberger

robaccahamburgers
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LaKeisha Wolf

LaKeisha Wolf

EnjoyEma
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Zeba Ahmed

Zeba Ahmed

Zeba18159923
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Kate McCall-Kiley

Kate McCall-Kiley

KateMcCallKiley
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Keith “Herk” Herchenroether

Keith “Herk” Herchenroether

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Sloane Davidson

Sloane Davidson

sloane

Celebrate #SproutSunset

Our impact will live on through thousands of people working hard every day to make Pittsburgh better for all.

Share your pictures and stories about the change we seeded together!

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Our Story

Communities are better places to live, learn, and thrive because of the people and ideas supported by The Sprout Fund.

From 2001 to 2018, we helped projects and programs in the early stages of development—when just a small amount of investment had the potential to yield big results. We worked with regional and national philanthropic partners to build strong networks and make more than $7 million of community-decided investments in 1,100+ early-stage projects, organizations, innovators, and activities.

We were led throughout by our co-founders, powered by a dedicated staff, and governed by an engaged board of young community leaders. The Sprout Fund was an important force for change in Pittsburgh and a national leader in responsive philanthropy, participatory events, and effective networks.

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Our History

For nearly two decades, Sprout’s partnerships with regional and national foundations helped power Pittsburgh’s grassroots response to a wide range of social, environmental, and economic challenges.

Beginnings & Early Success

2001

Created the Seed Award as mechanism for young people to support innovative ideas to make Pittsburgh a better place to live, work, and play. Supported initially by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Heinz Endowments.

2003

Launched Public Art community mural program to transform the visual landscape and bring communities together around shared goals. Longstanding program supporters were PNC Foundation and Laurel Foundation.

2003

Hosted first Hothouse event, our “live annual report” to the community and annual fundraiser until 2010. It regularly earned “best party” accolades and drew crowds to recent redevelopments.

2004

Partnered with Club Café, The Andy Warhol Museum, and the Brew House Association to activate Pittsburgh in winter through a 3-month series of art, music, and performances.

2006

Issued first RFPs on community-generated topics through Engage Pittsburgh after the Idea Round Up. Lead support provided by Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

2006

Commissioned local artists to design Giant Inflatables that were erected at cultural sites throughout the city to raise awareness about the Pittsburgh Roars marketing campaign.

Growth & Expansion

2008

Stewarded $1 million in Community Connections grants to help citizens take part in regional celebration of Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary. Worked on behalf of Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

2009

Launched Spark program in partnership with The Grable Foundation to forge collaborations between early learning educators and digital media technologists.

2010

Partnered with The Pittsburgh Foundation to support local efforts to enhance biodiversity when Pittsburgh was North American host city for UN World Environment Day.

2011

Celebrated 10th anniversary of organization with TENACITY, a one-night-only performance retrospective from Sprout’s first 10 years of investments in the arts.

2012

Formalized the learning innovation network now called Remake Learning and helped it grow from a hundred people and a few dozen organizations to thousands of teachers, techies, and civic leaders from 500+ regional orgs.

2012

Issued first annual batch of $1,000 innovation grants that would come to be known as Grand Ideas as the conclusion of the year-long Social Innovation Exchange.

Regional & National Leadership

2013

Secured national funding from MacArthur Foundation to establish a Hive and support Connected Learning activities for teens that were interest-driven, peer-supported, and production-centered.

2014

Hosted an international summit in Silicon Valley to focus the attention of educators and employers on the potential of open digital badges—on behalf of MacArthur Foundation and in partnership with Digital Promise.

2014

Established The Digital Corps to deploy trained-mentors into afterschool community centers to help improve digital literacy skills. Supported by The Grable Foundation and part of the Mozilla global community.

2014

Piloted the use of digital badges to recognize learning and achievement through support from The Hillman Foundation. Defined shared competencies for the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of 21st century learning.

2015

Empowered residents to take action in their communities and advance the One Northside community vision through support from The Buhl Foundation.

2015

Published the Remake Learning Playbook to help other communities create effective regional networks for teaching and learning with support from The Grable Foundation.

2016

Facilitated a White House event on behalf of the Office of Science & Technology Policy to discuss ways to apply maker learning principles and reimagine underutilized municipal assets.

2016

Partnered with City of Pittsburgh on Rec2Tech to demonstrate the potential for municipal rec centers as 21st century learning labs with lead support from Comcast NBCUniversal.

2016

Applied Sprout’s strategies for participatory events and knowledge management through national community work on behalf of LRNG and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Final Years

2017

Used $100,000 of our organizational reserves to fund local solutions to pressing national issues during the first 100 Days of the new presidential administration.

2017

Called on communities to create posters and yard signs in support of immigrants and refugees and convey the important idea that Pittsburgh is a place where we all belong.

2017

Led a digital literacy collaborative for My Brother’s Keeper on behalf of the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County with support from The Heinz Endowments.

2017

Helped regions like Springfield, Ohio, and the Research Triangle in North Carolina remix Sprout’s effective network approach and build their own learning innovation ecosystems.

2018

Mobilized 3 working groups to develop collaborative solutions that expand economic opportunity in the region through support from the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

2018

Announced plans to sunset the organization after 17 successful years. Published Last Will & Testament and Field Guides to document our practices. Made last round of grants to support individuals to carry forward Sprout’s ideals.

Our Team

Staff

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Cathy Lewis Long
Co-Founder & Executive Director
    
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Matt Hannigan
Co-Founder & Deputy Director
  
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Dustin Stiver
Senior Program Officer
    
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Diana Avart
Program Associate
  
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Tricia Monticello Kievlan
Program Associate
    
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Friday
Dog
Image and dozens of talented writers, photographers, filmmakers, facilitators, contractors, and advisors

Board

We are directed by a board of community leaders who champion civic action in our hometown of Pittsburgh.

Mark Broadhurst, Chair
Eat’n Park Hospitality Group
Dan Byers, Secretary
Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University
Megan Cicconi
Fox Chapel Area School District
Meredith Grelli
Wigle Whiskey
Mike Haggerty, Treasurer
The Hillman Company
Alexis Howard
Pittsburgh Public Schools
Cathy Lewis Long, President
The Sprout Fund
Henry J. Simonds, Emeritus

Our Friends

Thank you to our recent supporters, partners, and collaborators!

Contact Us

6101 Penn Avenue, Suite 102
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
15206-3956

 6101 Penn Ave Ste 102, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
 +1 (412) 325-0646
 [email protected]

You can reach any Sprout team member via the email formula: «firstname»@sproutfund.org

Our storefront office is open to the public each weekday from 9am–5:30pm.