First Community Foundation Partnership (FCFP) is continuing its new community “Spark Tank” challenge into 2023.

Last year, FCFP launched their innovation grant challenge, “Spark Tank,” to involve community residents in philanthropy and solve community issues. 

FCFP asked individuals with ideas on advancing or promoting racial equity in Lycoming County to submit their dreams and ideas. Spark Tank is a component of FCFP’s First Focus Project which leverages the Foundation’s leadership platform to address critical issues impacting the quality of life for all members of the community it serves.

With a current focus on systemic racism, First Focus and the “Spark Tank” are designed to encourage the community to work towards a more equitable society by overcoming obstacles relating to race relations.  

Jennifer D. Wilson, FCFP President & CEO said, “The community response to Spark Tank has been incredible. The applications were inspiring and challenged our team to think outside the box as we looked to create partnership with area nonprofits.  I’m grateful to the individuals who shared new ideas with us and I am excited to watch the selected projects unfold over the next year.”

Seventeen applications were received from community residents. Members of the FCFP First Focus committee reviewed the submissions and invited finalists for an in-person presentation. Ultimately, FCFP selected three projects to invest up to $25,000 each. The projects will be facilitated through local 501c3 nonprofit organizations, who FCFP identified as partners to help with implementation of the programs.  

The 2023 Spark Tank recipients include:  

  • Tell YO Story – Diana DeVaughn and Melodie Carter-Shaw are looking to inspire more people of color to share their unique life experiences using creative arts through the project “Tell YO Story.”  In partnership with the Community Theatre League, they will challenge individuals to explore their creative gifts and talents through music, dance, acting, writing, and/or designing.

  • The project will launch on Friday, February 3, 2023, with Janeen Hammond telling her life experiences through her production of JOURNEY: A ONE WOMEN SHOW.  Young adults, age 15 and older, are invited to join bi-weekly sessions regarding formulating their story in their chosen artistic modality.  Participants will craft their story under the guidance and tutelage of theatrical instructors and will perform quarterly productions that will culminate into a grand production held at the end of October. 

  • See My Color – Sisters Natalie Griffin and Givonna Griffin are on a mission to increase racial equity through exposure and acknowledgement of the differences that various cultures contain. See My Color will work with a production team at WVIA to create a social media series of BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) sharing personal information/experiences relative to their race, ethnicity and culture.  The Griffin’s are planning their interview schedule and will be invited to attend several community events throughout the year to connect with interested participants.

  • Links to Lycoming – Lycoming College seeks to strengthen Williamsport community connections for the diverse student population participating in their pre-semester orientation program which supports incoming students recruited through the College’s partnerships with several primarily urban national charter and community-based networks.

  • In partnership with STEP, Inc., an AmeriCorps volunteer will coordinate community tours, cultural and recreational activities, and meetings with Lycoming County business, government, and faith leaders.  The College will also launch a “Sponsor-a-Student” program where vetted local families will provide a home-away-from-home, offering a safe space for a student in need of familial support while attending Lycoming College.

Additional information about First Focus and progress of the Spark Tank projects will be available on FCFP’s website, or social media @FCFPGives.  

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