Do you have an idea that could improve the lives of children in your community?

Are you a person who sees a problem affecting children and are willing to do something about it?

Learn more about the Community Sparkplugs and how your idea may be eligible to receive a grant.

Key School & Community Partners



  • Idea Generator

  • Outcomes Innovator

  • Project Designer

  • Manager

  • Community Organizer

  • Change Agent

High School Exterior


  • Hub for young People

  • Remove barrier to success

  • Parent Engagement

  • Communicator to School Families

  • Convening Space Provider

Gold Ribbon


  • Provides resource investment

  • Partners with and supports community sparkplugs

  • Provides access to additional expertise and resources

Community Garden
Who are Community Sparkplugs?    


Resident power is a powerful engine for change. The key is the sparkplug—those local leaders who agree to take the lead in making new things happen. We look for these characteristics to predict not only initial project success but on-going sparks to ignite local improvements:  

Graphic Chart

Desire to keep score towards achievement

All Hands In

A desire to solve problems, not study or complain about them.


Running at the Beach

Without it many

will start but few

will finish. 




Group Planting a Tree

In contrast to those whose only focus is what's good for them


Subway Billboard

You Can remember my name I said we could do this



Together at the Top



In contrast to those whose only focus is what's good for them

What is a Community Sparkplug Project?

What is the Community Sparkplugs Initiative?  


Community Sparkplugs is an outcomes-driven community investment initiative of The Rensselaerville Institute. We have over 50 years of effective experience in engaging communities to achieve results that matter to them. The results-focused projects undertaken by volunteer Community Sparkplugs bring immediate results to the community and build increased community capacity, confidence, and energy.  

Our school and community partnerships start with the idea that citizens in the community can create an environment that gives children the opportunities they deserve. They end with results like walking brigades through tough neighborhoods, carpools in the mornings, mobile food banks, and book clubs. These seemingly small but incredibly beautiful efforts are initiated by those who spark change—the everyday people we call Sparkplugs. They are everywhere. Their ideas matter. Their energy turns those ideas into opportunity. We provide the tools and know-how to help them bring those opportunities to life.