SPARK PROGRAM INC

The Possibility Movement

aka Spark   |   Chicago, IL   |  http://www.sparkprogram.org

Mission

Spark engages communities to provide career exploration and self-discovery opportunities that help middle school students understand, experience and pursue what's possible.

Ruling year info

2005

Chief Executive Officer

Robin Keefe

Main address

67 E. Madison Suite 2101

Chicago, IL 60603 USA

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Formerly known as

Resonate, Inc.

EIN

20-1836547

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Adult, Child Matching Programs (O30)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Spark began in 2004 as a simple yet powerful idea. Two educators in the San Francisco Bay Area believed that mentorship and career exploration could transform minds, communities and futures, unlocking possibilities for young people at a critical stage of development.

When Chris Balme and Melia Dicker started their careers in education, they found a troubling gap between schools and communities. Middle school students were disengaged and confined to the classroom — a world apart from the wealth of resources and opportunities that neighboring businesses had to offer. But where some saw barriers, they saw possibilities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Spark in the Bay Area

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Spark’s oldest region, Spark partners with schools in Redwood City, San Francisco and Oakland.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

In Chicago, where the program launched in 2011, Spark partners with schools in North Lawndale, East Garfield Park, McKinley Park and the South Loop.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

In Philadelphia, Spark launched in spring 2013 with three founding partner schools in West Philadelphia. Since the launch, Spark has grown to five school throughout Philadelphia.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

Jefferson Award for Executive Director Chris Balme 2008

American Institute for Public Service

Draper Richards Foundation Award 2008

Draper Richards Foundation

Ashoka Fellowship for Executive Director Chris Balme 2010

Ashoka

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students enrolled

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of mentors recruited

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

volunteers and mentors donate their time to work with a Spark Student

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Spark was founded on the belief that all young people should be inspired to explore who they can become, and all adults have a role in supporting them in that journey. What began with a few students and volunteer mentors has grown into a national movement helping students to discover career options and connect their future with classroom learning through skill-building and mentoring. From its roots in the Bay Area, Spark has expanded to Los Angeles in 2010, Chicago in 2011 and Philadelphia in 2013.

Coast to coast, Spark is building The Possibility Movement: a diverse community coming together to help middle school students understand, experience and pursue what's possible. Based on a decade of success, the movement is making a difference: 92% of Spark students have graduated on time or are on track to do so, compared to only 68% of their peers.

We unite diverse communities to provide middle school students with opportunities to discover who they can become today and in the future. At Spark, we lead The Possibility Movement to bring together individuals who care, share, teach and inspire.

Our program includes real-world experiences, curriculum, workshops and resources that enable middle school students to explore careers and create space for self-discovery.

Exploration: Seventh graders participate in Spark Labs, or on-site workshops, hosted by local companies and organizations. Employee volunteers guide students through structured, group activities that build skills and expand career options.

Immersion: Spark connects 7th grade students with employee volunteers based on common interests and skills for Workplace-Based Mentorships. Spark Students receive direct guidance from a Spark Mentor and work together on a project related to their interests.

Transition: Spark offers High School Pathways and Ninth Grade Support to 8th and 9th grade students so they can take action and feel equipped with the knowledge and resources to make the possibilities they've experienced real.

By partnering with students from before they enter high school, Spark's program model is intentionally focused on developing the capacity and resilience of students so that they are prepared for the pivotal ninth grade transition into high school. More than 4,500 supporters powered The Possibility Movement in 2016-17, helping 2.600+ students build individual skills and access learning opportunities.

Spark’s 2017-18 impact report demonstrates the power of Spark’s programs to help students develop the skills, connections, and engagement they need to succeed:

Social Emotional Skills: 78% of Spark students grew in social emotional skills, including teamwork, problem solving, and communication.

Social Capital: 90% of Spark students agree that they learned about different jobs and careers they didn’t know about before Spark, and 87% agreed that their Spark experience helped them figure out what kind of job or career they want as an adult.

Performance & Engagement: At a time when average student engagement declines, according to their teachers, 74% of Spark students improved in critical competencies for successful classroom engagement. Overall, 92% of Spark Alumni are on track to graduate on time.

Like students, mentors build new skills and increase their engagement through Spark:

Social Emotional Skills: 80% of mentors report learning skills at Spark that will help them do their job better.

Social Capital: 95% of mentors report an increased sense of responsibility for contributing to local communities after their involvement with Spark.

Performance & Engagement: 87% of mentors report feeling more comfortable working with people that are different from them because of their involvement with Spark.

Financials

SPARK PROGRAM INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

SPARK PROGRAM INC

Board of directors
as of 3/8/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Garren Corbett

University of California

Term: 2020 - 2024


Board co-chair

Maureen Lange

Gartner

Term: 2020 - 2024

Ben Rowe

Managing Partner, KHP Capital Partners

Jeff Markowitz

Partner, Greylock

Alicia Winkler

The Golden Apple Foundation

Britton Piccciolini

Google for Education

Charles Calloway

Chapman and Cutler LLC

Griffin Gordon

Oasis Financial

MR Magill

MRM Consulting

Renee Mendez

Ernst & Young

Valerie Brown

Holland and Knight

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/08/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data