Spencer Book

In The Beginning

Visionary Lyle M. Spencer established the roots of the Spencer Foundation, to investigate how education could be improved globally through study and research.

Less than 10 years later, in 1971, the Spencer Foundation awarded its first grant. Based in Chicago, the non-profit organisation employs a large community of preeminent researchers and is now a leading funder of education research in the United States. In the last 50 years, it has awarded over 13,000 grants worth in excess of $600m, all in the pursuit of improving education and transforming lives.

Our Brief

To produce a striking book which explores the legacy of the Spencer Foundation – our client since 2018 – and illustrates the impact of 50 years of grantmaking history. 

The Style

Bold, generous, inspirational, thought-provoking.


Our Vision

To visualise the true impact of Spencer’s grant programme and reflect and reconnect with its principles.

We started by exploring the organisation’s early days in the 1960s, when businessman Lyle M. Spencer wrote a series of passionate notes about his desire for funding educational projects and improving individual outcomes:

“All the Spencer dough was earned, improbably, from education. It makes sense, therefore, that much of this money should be returned eventually to investigating ways in which education can be improved, around the world”.

The book shifts to the present, looking at how the Foundation shapes innovative thinking, influences policy, and contributes to equitable learning environments. With unprecedented challenges facing the world, it’s more important now than ever to fund research that engages a wide range of voices and different perspectives. 

From a design point of view, we included writings, quotes, images and ideas but gave these plenty of breathing space, reflecting the organisation’s transparency, generous nature and openness. 

A graphic illustration of every grant since 1971 drove home the impact in a powerful way. We also created a bold representation of every fellow and grantee since the Foundation began - 11,071 and counting.

In The End

What  emerged was a book that reconnected the Spencer community as it exists today with the original vision of its founder.

Don't just take our word for it

“Anyone tasked with writing, designing and publishing a book understands the complexity of this endeavour. Wondersphere were a steadfast partner in creating this book from scratch, ideating, paginating and keeping track of endless updates.”

Emily Krone Phillips, Communications Director, Spencer Foundation



We are Wondersphere, a strategic brand and communications agency.

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