Spy Hop

What do grantmaking and the Super Bowl have in common? More than you might think.

If you tuned in for the 2018 Super Bowl, you likely saw a commercial produced by Phase 2 Productions, Spy Hop’s full-service video production social enterprise that received a loan from the Community Foundation of Utah’s (CFU) Social Investors Forum (SIF) in 2015. The commercial was produced for the Loveland Planet Aquarium and aired during the Super Bowl, illustrating the high-quality production Phase 2 generates.

Spy Hop is an afterschool program that helps young people learn important skills in the digital media arts to express themselves, secure employment, and elevate their lives for the better. In 2015, Spy Hop applied to SIF and was selected to pitch for funding to buy a commercial-grade camera to help scale Phase 2’s video production. The SIF Investment Committee awarded a $40,000, 0% interest loan that provided Spy Hop the upfront cash to purchase the camera and increase Phase 2’s capacity without adding significant financial risk.

“[The camera purchased with the loan] has enabled us to actually bid on higher quality productions, work with bigger clients, and to work with corporate clients to help us...elevate the quality of productions. We're saving all that money [to put] back into supporting our core programs,” explained Spy Hop’s Executive Director, Kasandra VerBrugghen. The Super Bowl commercial, produced for the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, is a prime example of what the loan has helped Phase 2 accomplish.

In addition to commercial production, Phase 2 employs Spy Hop program graduates. “We know half of our students go on to a related field, 100% of them graduate from high school, and 30% to 70% (depending on the year) are enrolled in college,” shared VerBrugghen, “[One of our students] graduated from our most advanced film program, and then she started working for Phase 2. She built her portfolio and skills and moved to L.A. To this day she's an editor on many films and television productions.”

When nonprofits rely too heavily on grants or donations, they may become financially vulnerable as these funding streams can be restrictive or nonrecurring, making it difficult to sustain and grow the organization. Kasandra’s comments exemplify what CFU hopes to foster in every organization funded through SIF: financial stability, organizational capacity, and focused impact.

CFU is proud to have supported Spy Hop and Phase 2 Productions. Whether it's through Super Bowl commercials or their programming that helps youth secure employment in the digital age, we look forward to seeing Spy Hop continue to grow its impact.

Click here to watch the commercial produced by Phase 2 Productions that was shown during the Super Bowl. To learn more about the Social Investors Forum, click here.

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