Spark Opportunity
Giving Circle

Spark learning. Spark collaboration. Spark momentum. Spark change.

“I now have a better understanding that it is more than just money involved in solutions” – Spark Opportunity donor

The Spark Opportunity Giving Circle brings together Community Foundation donors to deepen their understanding and commitment to closing the stark income and opportunity disparities in our region.

Spark Opportunity was inspired by a conversation. In 2015, a passionate group of donors attended a Community Foundation event featuring Robert Putnam, author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, the seminal book that examines the growing opportunity gap across America. Shocked by what they learned, these donors were driven to learn more about equity and the opportunity gap in our community. Through a shared learning journey, the donors were inspired to play a role in creating solutions through collaborative giving as a giving circle in partnership with the Community Foundation.

Since that original discussion, this donor-driven circle has grown to become one of our organization’s primary efforts to tackle the unconscionable equity gap in Atlanta. The Spark Opportunity journey continues in 2018, with new donor investors adding renewed passion and commitment to the group.

Atlanta’s national ranking for most inequitable cities
of 3rd grade Thomasville Heights Elementary School students are reading proficiently
median household income in Thomasville Heights

Collaborative Impact

Over the past two years, the Spark Opportunity Giving Circle has focused its learning and philanthropic investments in Thomasville Heights—one of the region’s most underserved communities. Read below to learn more about these investments, structured by the group’s action framework.


Supporting Resident Leaders

In 2018, Spark Opportunity made a $35,000 investment to support resident-driven grantmaking and leadership development for Thomasville Heights residents.


Developing Neighborhood Nonprofit Capacity

In 2018, Spark Opportunity made a $15,000 investment to regularly convene Thomasville Heights nonprofit service providers for collective impact.


Strengthening Anchor Organizations

A total of $84,338 was granted to four organizations rooted in the Thomasville Heights community.
Read more here.


June 2015

The Community Foundation brought Robert Putnam to town to speak about his book “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.” Putnam’s national view was the genesis for a hyper-local deep dive into metro Atlanta’s equity gap – the unconscionable regional disparities in access to resources needed for all children to be successful.


After several lectures featuring renowned thinkers and discussions in donor homes and community spaces, the “Spark Opportunity!” Learning Circle was born to tackle issues of inequity and the opportunity gap in our region.


Donors met during six learning sessions from April 2016 to January 2017 to gain perspective on specific issues; hearing from experts who provide high level policy and on-the-ground perspectives; and assess strategic opportunities for individual and collective action.

Spring 2017

In an effort to make greater impact with their dollars, Spark members, along with Community Foundation staff, decided to make the transition into a formal Giving Circle. With a group charter now, each participant must invest a minimum of $10,000 to be a member of the Spark Opportunity Giving Circle.

Fall 2017

The Giving Circle made a $157,500 investment in Thomasville Heights. Grants spanned programs that mobilized residents, parent engagement in the schools, coordination of nonprofit service delivery and more.

Spring 2018

Spark Opportunity Giving Circle added 14 additional donor members to the group, growing the group to 27 participants.

Fall 2018

Spark made further investments in Thomasville Heights following the group’s action framework: granting dollars to support resident leaders, to develop neighborhood nonprofit capacity and to strengthen anchor institutions. These investments totaled $180,538.

For more information

For nonprofit/community
partner questions, please contact:

Mindy Kao
Program Associate, Equity

For donor questions
please contact:

Kathleen Wagner
Senior Philanthropic Officer