‘For the youth by the youth’: Young grantmakers reflect on their participatory grantmaking

Spark Fund

Last year, the nine of us served as youth grantmakers for a youth-led fund called the Spark Fund. We had the unique experience of designing the grantmaking process and delivering financial support to youth-led and youth-focused organisations in our regions. 

We were among 40 young people from 15 countries who formed four regional panels in Europe and Eurasia, South Asia, Southern Africa, and the Americas. During the process, each of the regional panels met regularly over three months. First, we got to know each other and determined our funding priorities and selection criteria. Then each panel put out a call for applications. Overall, we received an incredible response – 790 applications total, including many from organisations that had never before received grant funding!

After a lot of discussion and debate in our panels, we chose a total of 56 youth-led and youth-focused organisations in 13 countries and awarded them a total of $546,000 in flexible funding. Global Fund for Children, which established the Spark Fund with support from the Avast Foundation, facilitated the process, but we were the ones who made the decisions about who and what we wanted to fund. Here’s what the experience was like for us.

Making decisions together

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