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Sparking Solutions

Inspired by the conviction that funders, nonprofits, government and business must work together to achieve lasting change, Philanthropy Network launched its Sparking Solutions initiative in 2013 to strategically promote and foster collaborative philanthropy to tackle complex issues that no one funder can address alone. 

We bring Sparking Solutions to life through two basic paths: spotlighting and supporting collaborative philanthropic initiatives already underway and fostering new collective action around priority needs and opportunities.

Our initial issue agenda is focused on five critical, poverty-related social and economic problems:


Reading by Fourth Grade


Improving education has been a longstanding concern for a variety of stakeholders in Philadelphia. When an interest emerged to advance a comprehensive strategy to promote universal grade-level reading—a key predictor of future academic success - The Barra Foundation funded an initial strategic planning effort to explore the opportunities for joint action.  The seeds sown through that process grew into a city-wide movement that blossomed in 2014 into Read by 4th —Philadelphia’s local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

Today, Read by 4th is a collective effort of over 90 organizations, public and private, large and small, convened and managed by the Free Library of Philadelphia, that aims to significantly increase the number of students in Philadelphia entering the 4th grade at reading level by 2020. Learn more.


Increasing Access to Health Care


Philanthropy Network members interested in increasing access to health care have organized themselves for action under the Pennsylvania Health Funders Collaborative (PHFC), a statewide network of 40 foundations aligned to increase the effectiveness of health funding. Addressing the opportunities and challenges surrounding the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a primary focus of the group at the time of Sparking Solutions’ launch.

In the intervening years, PHFC has become a respected source of non-partisan information for policymakers and health foundations and a forum for health funders across the Commonwealth to coordinate and pursue the shared goal of enhancing vulnerable populations’ access to high-quality, cost-effective health services. Learn more.


Preventing and Ending Homelessness


To address the issue of homelessness in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, public and private stakeholders rallied around Your Way Home, an innovative partnership between government, philanthropic, nonprofit and community partners to end homelessness in their community.

Based on lessons learned from rapid rehousing pilot project and three years of community-driven, data-fueled planning and design, Your Way Home Montgomery County was launched in May 2013.  Philanthropic leadership from HealthSpark Foundation, Genuardi Family Foundation and the Montgomery County Foundation Inc. provided key support and guidance in the development of the initiative.

Today, Your Way Home’s award-winning collective impact approach provides a successful model for effectively addressing homelessness in other communities. Learn more. 


Reducing Hunger and Fostering Healthy Eating


Collaboration around the topic of hunger and healthy eating has long been an interest for Philanthropy Network’s members. First organized at a meeting about the food system in 2009, the Greater Philadelphia Food Funders gained support from the Convergence Partnership to develop a 2014-2018 Strategic Plan to guide their collective work. Over the last several years, their efforts have provided policy insight and funding strategy on a number of key issues, most notably targeting the deep-seated issues of hunger and poor nutrition, especially in the area of childhood obesity.

Publication: Donors Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from the Greater Philadelphia Region (March 2014)


Promoting Youth Safety and Youth Development


As the result of a meeting with then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, nearly 20 members got engaged with the Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative to support its targeted place-based efforts in the 22nd Police District. In a unique approach to the management of a city-driven initiative, a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow was placed within the Nutter Administration to coordinate efforts between the city and private funders.

Through the leadership of the Stoneleigh Foundation, the City of Philadelphia’s 2013 Youth Violence Reduction Plan and Philadelphia Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative (YVPC) were created to mobilize the resources of 100+ government, philanthropic and private-sector organizations committed to reducing youth violence in Philadelphia.