Spark’s Seal of Approval

By SARAH MIERS

In addition to providing financial and in-kind support, Spark’s investments increase awareness of little-known, grassroots women’s organizations. Spark’s grants often act as a seal of approval to other  well-established funders, helping our grantees secure larger investments in the future. We’ve seen this success with grantees like Akili Dada, and our 2011 grantees are no exception. From receiving a personal honor from President Sarkozy of France to winning New York’s prestigious Union Square Award, our 2011 grantees are propelling into the New Year with substantial support.

At Spark’s Spring Speaker Series, members meet with Jenni Williams, founder of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA). We were so inspired by WOZA’s  nonviolent push for democracy and human rights that many Spark members immediately chipped in with funding and technology donations to improve WOZA’s ability to organize. Since Spark’s initial grant, others have caught on to WOZA’s exceptional work, including the French government. Just a few weeks ago, President Sarkozy awarded Jenni Williams with the French National Order of Merit.

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Spark New York’s first grantee, Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition, also received substantial recognition and support. Much like Spark, YWCHAC understands the benefit of linking fun with volunteerism. Their unique model resulted in the successful engagement of New York’s youth in comprehensive HIV/AIDS education–not an easy task. Last week YWCHAC won the prestigious Union Square Award. This award includes a $50,000 general support grant. For a small organization this level of unrestricted funding will be transformative.

Spark seeds grassroots women’s organizations with cash grants, pro bono services, connections and attention. Our intention is to position these incredible organizations for larger funding opportunities. The recent success of WOZA and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS shows this model in action.

You can help Spark’s efforts with your own seed grants! Choose the cause you want to support, and we’ll help leverage these funds in 2012.

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