Spark MicroGrants offers a dynamic model for community organizing and granting. Our process taps into the knowledge and imagination of communities in need. We work with local facilitators (often university students or NGO leaders) with deep connections to under-resourced communities. With our guidance, the facilitator organizes a series of meetings that can take several months where the community develops a project proposal. The community identifies a problem and innovates on how to address it. Then they build consensus around the best solution. We arrange for comments on each proposal from field advisers. When proposals are well developed we help fund them with up to $5000. The community drives the process and implements the resulting project, enabling each project to be locally appropriate and sustainable.
Rather than come up with ideas to help a specific community from the outside, we are developing a streamlined approach for stimulating innovative community-led projects and their realization. Our work so far has demonstrated an opportunity to invest donor money with expert advice directly into the hands of communities in extreme poverty. Our model is a novel approach to catalyzing grassroots efforts. Many organizations try to scale a specific program, but we are scaling a process where communities drive their own development.