The Lightspark Foundation
The Lightspark Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening democracy in the United States. Through our proprietary incubation model, we provide seed capital and in-kind strategic, back-office, and network support to nonprofit social innovators with an idea that can shift the system toward a more representative, equitable, just, and inclusive society.
Because the issues confronting humanity are numerous and complex, Lightspark endeavors to collaborate whenever possible with funding peers and established grassroots organizations to build momentum on existing progress; while our model may be proprietary, our approach is vigorously collaborative.
Before Lightspark narrowed its focus to efforts that strengthen democracy, the Foundation supported various startup initiatives like the Lightspark Media Summit in 2017 and 2018, and the Impact Guild in 2019. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, Lightspark launched the Nourish to Flourish Initiative. A copy of the Lightspark Foundation’s IRS determination letter can be viewed here.
Board of Trustees
Special thanks to the board of directors for their administration, oversight and leadership over the Nourish to Flourish Initiative.
Jonathan Ruga, Esq., MBA, CPA
Founding Board Chair
Jonathan has a long history of community involvement in education, health and human services, and defending democracy, having served on the boards of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, The Road Home, St. Mark’s Hospital, and Alliance for a Better Utah. As CEO of Sentry Financial, he is primarily responsible for establishing Sentry’s strategic direction and co-leading the Equipment Financing Division (in addition to overseeing the two other divisions: Real Estate and Private Equity). Upon graduating from the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1982, where he was a member of the Utah Law Review, Jonathan worked with the law firm of Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless, where he specialized in the areas of financing and leasing, federal taxation, and real estate and business law. Jonathan and his wife, Tina, have three grown children and live in Salt Lake City.
Scott Young, Esq.
Founding Board Member
Scott is passionate about creating a better social system where the chances to succeed are shared equally by all. When not working on Lightspark initiatives, Scott co-leads Sentry Financial’s Equipment Financing Division, including establishing and maintaining Sentry’s equipment finance programs and its relationships with participating financial institutions. Prior to re-joining Sentry in 1998 after co-founding it in 1986, Scott was a partner with the law firm of Parr, Brown, Gee & Loveless, where his practice emphasized commercial litigation and the areas of equipment financing and general business and corporate law. Scott graduated from the University of Utah School of Business with an undergraduate degree in finance, and obtained a law degree from the University of Utah College of Law, where he was a member of the Utah Law Review. He and his wife, Carolyn, have four kids and live in Salt Lake City.
Jared Ruga, JD, MBA, MFA
Founding Board Member
Jared is a GLAAD-nominated and Emmy®-winning producer, writer, director, and media executive in film and TV, charged with developing, financing, and producing meaningful content that engages audiences in conversation and action for a prosocial agenda. He performs most of these roles as CEO of Vavani Productions, an ethos-driven film and TV production company he founded in 2017. Vavani’s first project, feature-length documentary QUIET HEROES, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, was internationally distributed, and won a Daytime Emmy® Award. Jared earned JD, MBA, and MFA degrees from the University of Utah and BBA and dual-BA degrees from the University of San Diego, where he was inducted into multiple honors societies, including Phi Beta Kappa. Jared enjoys meeting new people, trying new cocktails, and he lives in West Hollywood. He’s currently learning how not to kill houseplants before he considers getting a quarantine puppy.