Much of what we set out to do is now done. However, there is still much more to do.
Thank You, Pittsburgh
Sprout grew out of a specific time and place. It had the right mix of people, problems, solutions, questions, and answers, working hard to evolve alongside the community it served. After 17 successful years, careful thought, and extensive planning with our board, The Sprout Fund decided to sunset the organization in 2018.
Sprout improved Pittsburgh by inspiring and nurturing people with innovative, grassroots ideas to positively impact their communities. Our pioneering efforts to achieve this mission spread further and wider than we could have imagined, supporting a distinct cultural shift that made our community stronger and more resilient.
This work was only possible because of deep, trusting relationships with all who shared their ideas, money, leadership, and time with our organization.
To pay tribute to all who supported Sprout and reflect on what was learned along the way, we planned a series of sunset activities and a final round of grantmaking as part of our organizational wind-down.
As an investment in Pittsburgh’s bright future, Sprout documented our best practices, shared our enduring values, and invested our remaining reserves in people committed to carrying on our legacy.
Throughout its history, Sprout embraced a philosophy of empowering others to work within their own communities on the issues that impact them every day. Those ideals can continue to flourish even after the organizational sunset through a series of tools and resources we developed: The Sprout Fund Field Guide for Philanthropy & Civic Action.
Sprout released the Field Guide in June 2018 on an open-sharing platform thanks to support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This overview of our unique approach and processes captures the lessons learned from 17 years of cultivating applications, making decisions, hosting events, leading community building campaigns, telling stories, and working with our grantees and our funders to achieve meaningful results together.
The Field Guide’s first section details our approach to Catalytic Funding, featuring a suite of tools we used to make more than $8 million of community-decided investments in more than 1,500 early-stage projects, organizations, innovators, and activities. The second section documents our approach to Community Building, and it details the practices we developed to connect community members in Pittsburgh and in communities across the United States.
Our intention for the Field Guide was to gather these resources so others could use them as a starting point for their own community work. We encourage you to read our reflections, remix Sprout’s approach, and apply the ideas within your own context. Feel free to draw on ideas that resonate with you and focus on the sections that feel most relevant to your work. You can read the publication straight through, jump to your favorite section, or search for key terms. However you use it, we hope you will be inspired to catalyze positive change and cultivate connected communities.
Last Will & Testament
Sprout captured the ideals that guided our work and shaped our organizational practices through our Last Will & Testament. This document reflects on the spirit and intentions of The Sprout Fund as we operated from 2001 to 2018, a critical period in Pittsburgh’s post-industrial revitalization.
No property was tied to our version of the last will and testament concept. Instead, we used it to celebrate what drove Sprout forward as an engine for community change and included our lasting advice to the community based on our continued belief that for Pittsburgh’s revitalization to stay authentic it must continue to support people, projects, and ideas.
We called on the community to help us find individuals that embody Sprout’s 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.
Quincy Kofi Swatsonquincykofi
Heather E. Tomkotheheatherrepor
J. Thomas Agnew IIIThomas_JENESIS
Betty LaneAfrican Healing Garden
Ngozi Walker Tibbsgozi18
Knowledge Build A. Hudsonknowledgebuild
LaTrenda Leonard SherrillTrendabelle
Alisha B WormsleyAlishabwormsley
You will know these “Sprouters” by their good works. And 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