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    Date submitted
  • 16-Jan-2017

Spark Central

Abstract

Spark Central is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to ignite the creativity, innovation, and imagination necessary for people to forge the path to their best future. Building on the railyard roots of Spokane’s West Central neighborhood, Spark Central is the junction between where people are and where they want to go. We offer resources, connection, support, and learning to those who need it most on their journey to a better future.

Although we serve all members of the Spokane community, we focus first and foremost on providing access to education, literacy, and creative learning opportunities to the West Central community and other Spokane residents who experience access barriers to the resources we provide. Our innovative programs develop the ability to problem-solve and think critically—skills critical to success in the Information Age, where the jobs of tomorrow haven’t been created yet. From learning to code to learning to write a story, we offer community members a one-way ticket to discovering their passion, building new skills, and growing the confidence needed for wherever they want to go.

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Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

Spark Central’s mission is to ignite the creativity, innovation, and imagination necessary for people of all ages to forge the path to their best future. Although our services are available to all Spokane residents, our priority market is residents of the West Central neighborhood in which we are located due to the area’s high poverty rate and low educational attainment compared to the city’s general population. We know youth growing up in the bottom fifth of national family income are least likely to achieve upward economic mobility, and access to learning opportunities and innovative technologies is a vital step to closing the achievement gap and interrupting the cycle of poverty. We fulfill our mission by providing (1) creative learning experiences, (2) technology, tools, and resources, and (3) a supportive community and creative space.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

As a charitable 501(c)3 non-profit, our work is to serve the West Central community and the broader Spokane community. We do this in four key ways: 1. We break the opportunity barrier: From research compiled by the Brookings Institute, we know that youth growing up in the bottom fifth of national family income, like many of those in the West Central neighborhood, are least likely to achieve upward economic mobility. We believe that income should never be a barrier to the learning opportunities needed to break the cycle of poverty, so Spark Central membership, youth programs, and community events are all offered at no charge. 2. We fill the achievement gap for low-income youth: High-income parents spend close to $8,900 a year per child on enrichment activities versus the $1,300 spent by their low-income peers. By 6th grade, youth born into poverty average a 6,000-hour learning gap compared with their middle-class peers (ExpandED). We strive to fill this gap by providing youth across socioeconomic boundaries with opportunities to ignite their passion and tools close the 6,000 learning gap. 3. We inspire tomorrow’s creative thinkers: As schools spend more time on high-stakes test prep, subjects that explore the arts and creative thinking are being cut. Many extracurricular programs are “pay to play,” so under-resourced youth miss out on key opportunities to flex creative muscles and hone problem-solving skills. Our youth programs, offered at no cost, ignite young imaginations and develop the creative problem-solving skills and confidence needed for an ever-changing tomorrow. 4. We grow a strong and safe community: By bringing people together for inspiring community events and creative learning activities, we invite volunteers, residents, teachers, and students to learn from and inspire one another. This community builds a sense of belonging, safety, and ignites innovative ideas from which everyone benefits.