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SPARCC’ing Change Where We Work: The Power of Funding Transformation

A formal assessment by the Center for Community Health and Evaluation (CCHE) takes a look at SPARCC’s mid-initiative progress, with trends aligning with a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s (FRBSF) community development research team, Testing our Hypotheses.

Read the full CCHE report here.

Much like the FRBSF’s findings, this report:

  • Highlights the shift to racial equity as a primary lens with which to view the SPARCC work.
  • Points out the importance of the SPARCC Capital Screen — a tool that allows rethinking community investment and ensure that capital is applied equitably.

CCHE looks at SPARCC’s progress-to-date by splitting the initiative outcomes into two categories — progress in collaboration and community engagement, and progress toward changing the systems of community development.

Among the findings:

  • More than half of the collaborative tables have increased the number of community residents at the table.
  • Cross-site collaboration produced four innovation grant proposals, resulting in two grants totalling around $350,000.
  • Nearly all SPARCC sites are coordinating with local elected officials and agency leaders to influence local and regional policies and have had success bringing resident voices into the process of developing and implementing policies.
  • The city of Denver and the LA Metro joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE).
  • SPARCC sites have increased strategic data capabilities of their collaborations.

The report also looks at how SPARCC is informing the field and catalyzing change. By analyzing changes in national partner organizations and strategic dissemination, CCHE makes the case that SPARCC has influence — and it’s growing.

SPARCC has fostered changes in the national initiative organizations, Enterprise Community Partners, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Low Income Investment Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The organizations are increasing their practices and integration of racial equity by explicitly naming “racial equity” as an outcome goal in strategic plans and processes, providing trainings, embedding the SPARCC frame of health, climate resilience, and racial equity into long-term organizational work, and informing the evolution of other initiatives.

The report offers considerations for funders undertaking highly collaborative and innovative initiatives, specifically advising trusting and flexible relationships between those doing the work.