Sphaera: Helping change makers do more, faster

Posted 2015-08-29

By Astrid Scholz / Sphaera

Everyday around the world, people are coming up with new ways to tackle the greatest social and environmental challenges of our lifetime. Whether we’re focused on solving problems across time zones or in our own backyards, when we can learn from our collective successes and failures we are better, faster, and more effective at finding solutions. Sharing our knowledge allows others to challenge, refine, and adapt it to best meet their needs, perpetuating a ripple effect of positive change. Unfortunately, many of our lessons learned and best practices lay dormant, inaccessible to those facing similar challenges, whether out of reach across oceans or hidden within our own organizations. To accelerate the pace of change as we address the urgent problems of the 21st century, we must unify our efforts, moving quickly to unlock our wealth of knowledge and experiences, making our collective solutions more accessible to the change agents on the front lines of a better tomorrow.

These insights motivated a group of pioneering NGOs, funders, and businesses to come together to imagine a globally networked, living library of solutions, and to incubate a new kind of social enterprise to grow it: Sphaera.

Sphaera (pronounced s’faira) brings the power of Peer-to-Peer platforms to the social change industry, putting the collective knowledge of funders and practitioners at each other’s fingertips. Sphaera’s mission is to accelerate the pace of social change by fostering collaboration, brokering practical knowledge, and facilitating adaptive innovation.

With seed funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Skoll Foundation, and Ecotrust, and with participation from Oxfam America, Mercy Corps, the Island Institute, Grameen Foundation, Forest Trends, Blue Solutions, and Development Alternatives, Sphaera has launched its human-centered, cloud-based platform, and is currently onboarding the first set of solutions communities from its beta customers. These form the roots of an expanding network-of-networks of such communities, into which Sphaera provides the always public, always open access.

Sphaera is currently curating its initial six solutions communities, bringing the solutioning approach to over $1.2 billion in social change initiatives, and will share initial lessons learned from these early adopters at SOCAP, October 6-9 in San Francisco. Another seven communities are slated to come online by the end of 2015.

Sphaera’s suite of services make it easy for funders and practitioners alike to find, share, and remix solutions, and their component building blocks; leverage network effects; and measure collective impact:

  • Solution brokering—matching solutions and practitioners across long distances; we provide a service that’s part human and part algorithm to match the characteristics of a challenge to the characteristics of a solution.
  • Solutioning events—socialize the behavior of remixing existing solutions in a fun and useful way, convening and facilitating hands-on workshops, training practitioners in new skills while leaving them with useful information, learning, and connections.
  • Solutions community—a central repository and virtual environment for sharing, discovering, and remixing solutions in configurable private or public solution portals, connecting change agents around particular topics or initiatives.

Currently operating through a subsidiary LLC of Ecotrust, where it was incubated, Sphaera will incorporate as a public benefit corporation (B-Corp) later this year upon closing of a round of financing. It began its existence as the “Resilience Exchange”, so named for the vision of a global, networked, living library of solutions to the hard problems of the 21st century. The Resilience Exchange lives on as the always public, always open portal into that global solutions library.

Find, create, and share solutions by joining our growing community at www.sphaera.world