Welcome to SPARK!

SPARK stands for Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge.  We are a lifelong learning organization that offers adult education classes and events for our members. We are a non-profit organization with over 200 members and an affiliate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. SPARK has been providing adult educational classes in the Kansas City area since 1993.

Out Mission

SPARK’s mission is to provide life-long learning opportunities through intellectually stimulating cultural and social experiences which enhance the quality of life for SPARK members.

Who are we?

SPARK is a group of active retirees with a passion for learning, meeting new people, sharing time and experiences and pursuing an active stimulating life.

Participating in SPARK provides an opportunity for active retirees to continue to learn and expand their interests through classes, book groups, local tours and other activities offered throughout the year. SPARK is a volunteer organization that relies on the partiipation of members to promote and achieve its mission.

Classes

SPARK’s philosophy since 1994 has been to provide  at a modest cost, learning and social experiences for participants. There are no per-requisites, test, or grades for the classes we offer.

Classes are hed four semesters a year, two hours a week for between two to sixe weeks. The SPARK Office and classrooms are located at 4825 Troost, Room 214D on the UMKC campus.  Classes are held four quarters a year, two hours a week for between two to sixe weeks. The SPARK Office and classrooms are located at 4825 Troost, Room 214D on the UMKC campus.

Affiliations

SPARK, as an affiliate of the University of Missouri, is supported by the intellectual, cultural, and administrative resources of the University.

Our History

SPARK had its beginnings in the summer of 1993 and offered classes on the campus of Penn Valley Community College for the next four years.  As Penn Valley was growing,  they had a need for the space we were using. SPARK began looking for options for the organization.

In the spring of 1997 SPARK entered into an affiliation agreement with the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  The Arts and Science Department of UMKC became SPARK’s official sponser.  There were obvious benefits to both parties. UMKC would have an thriving Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) on campus and SPARK would have a collegiate environment and the intellectual and cultural resources of the university.  SPARK continues to share this relationship with UMKC.  By its 10th anniversary SPARK became a non-profit corporation under 501-C 3 tax status. This year we are celebrating our 25th Anniversary and continue providing  lifelong learning opportunities and social events for active retirees in the Kansas City area.

Our Organization

SPARK is a volunteer orgnaization, which means that SPARK relies on its members for the continued success and growth of the organization.  SPARK employs a part-time office coordiantor and bookkeeper, but program leadership and implemention of the mission, goals and objectives of the organization are carried out by the membership.

Board of Directors

SPARK’ s Board of Directors consists of sixteen members who are elected annually by the membership. Board members serve for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum 6 years. Officers of the Board include the President, President-Elect, Secretary and Treasure. The role of the Board is to provide leadership that promotes and clarifies the mission of the organization; maintain fiscal accountability and support the organization’s growth and development through programs and activities.

Board Meetings                                                 

The Board of Directors meets the third Friday of even months at 9:30 a.m. at the SPARK Office, unless otherwise notified. All members are invited and encouraged to attend the Board meetings.  Board Meeting noticies are published monthly in the SPARK Newsletter and in each quarter Class Catalog.

Officers and Directors

President: Jay Upright
Secretary: Linda Landes
Treasurer: Gil Nichols

Board Members:  Baila Goldstein, Joni Green, Jane Harrell, George Heiser, Bill Hirsch, Judy Kirk,  Virginia Lambright, Jan Parks, Barbara Stillman, Linda Wade, Bill Webb

Board meetings. for 2018 – 2019 dates are:

  • August 17,  2018
  • October 18, 2018
  • December 7, 2018
  • February 15, 2019
  • April 19, 2019
  • June 21, 2019
  • August16, 2019
  • October 18, 2019

SPARK Committees

In addition to the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the overall operation of SPARK, there are five standing committees that implement the mission of SPARK. Members are encouraged participate on these committees. It is a great way to support the organization, meet other members and share your own interest and talents with SPARK. You can find out more about the committees by indicating your interest on page 2 of the SPARK class enrollment forms or by contacting the Committee Chair or the SPARK office.

What is the Marketing Committee?

Are you interested in sharing the buzz about SPARK with other lifelong learners? If so, you can help us in a variety of ways to recruit new members and raise awareness about what SPARK has to offer in the Kansas City area.

For starters, our committee meets monthly. We plan and develop promotional materials to recruit new members, attend or speak at community events where we can provide information to other life-long learners.  The marketing committee is also engaged in fundraising and obtaining grants to expand the organization’s work. The committee also takes a turn preparing gift bags for the instructors one class quarter each year.

If you have an interest or experience in marketing, grant writing, fundraising, web-site development or would just like to help SPARK become the premier lifelong learning organization in Kansas City, then we welcome you to join us.

If you would like more information about the Marketing Committee or would like to visit one of our meetings, you can indicate your interest on a class enrollment form orcontact our Committee Chair, Jan Parks at parksj3271@gmail.com or call the SPARK office 816-235-2870 and someone will be in contact with you.

What is the Membership Committee?

For openers, the primary goal of our committee is to make sure members have a positive experience in SPARK. Without members, there would be no SPARK. So, recruiting and creating a positive environment is very important to the livelihood of our group.

  • We develop and implement strategies to recruit and retain members.
  • We actively recruit new members by word of mouth, distributing catalogs at libraries and any other place we frequent that will display the current class catalog.
  • We contact new members during the class sessions to inquire about their experience.
  • We prepare and update name tags and the Name Tag Board. New member’s name tags will display a colored strip signifying “New Member” and the year they joined. This enables existing members to recognize who is a new member and help them feel welcome to the classes or activities they are enrolled in.
  • We identify and orient Class Coordinators. Class Coordinators are members who,

– Welcome members as they arrive for class each week.

-Keep class attendance rosters.

-Help the instructor as needed with handouts or items.

-Make pertinent announcements about up-coming SPARK activities, etc.

-Welcome new members point out where restrooms are and provide safety information.

-Explain about refreshments for break time.

  • The Committee hosts a “Coffee and Conversation” event during the second week of each class session to welcome new members and promote socialization among members and instructors.
  • We distribute instructor evaluations and announcements to class coordinators.
  • We prepare gift bags for instructors one class quarter each year.

If you would like more information about the Marketing Committee or would like to visit one of our meetings, you can indicate your interest on a class enrollment form or contact our Committee Chair, Linda Wade at lkaywade@msn.com or the SPARK Office and they will have someone from the committee contact you.

What is the Event’s Committee?

The Events Committee is a fun Committee – We get to plan parties!
The Events Committee coordinates SPARK’s four major class preview and social events prior to the beginning of each quarter. These events include the Winter Annual meeting and Chili Lunch, the Spring Fling, the May Luncheon and the Fall Barbecue. Many of our instructors attend these events to provide an overview of their classes. It’s a great way to learn about classes and meet other members. Members will be also be able to register for classes and purchase paring tags at that time.

If you enjoy being a part of “social events” then this is the committee for you. You can be part of the planning process or plan to help just on the day of the event. Plus, it is a great way to meet other members.

We meet once a month for an hour to plan the next event. We contact and coordinate the venues, prepare and send out invitations to members, plan and prepare any decorations, plan the menus, help set-up on the day of the event and register attendees at the event. The committee also takes a turn preparing gift bags for the instructors one class quarter each year.
If this sounds like something you would like to do, you can indicate your interest on a class enrollment form or contact our Committee Chair Bailia Goldstein at bggold@sbcglobal.net or contact the SPARK office and someone will contact you.

What is the Curriculum Committee?

This committee plans classes for Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall terms.  We have the fun of meeting with new instructors and helping them plan a class.  We work with experienced instructors on their classes and schedules.  We enjoy going out into the community and exploring class possibilities plus working with our weekly GEMS speakers.  We plan tours, evaluate class schedules, finalize catalogue entries.

We meet once a week for 4-6  weeks prior to the beginning of classes, brainstorming ideas for the class schedule, identifying instructors and confirming dates and course descriptions with the instructor. We get our ideas for classes and instructor from a variety of sources: suggestions from our members, programs have attended or heard about and people we have met that might be a potential instructor.  The committee also takes a turn preparing gift bags for the instructors one class quarter each year.

If this sounds like fun to you, we would like you to join us, if only for one of the next planning sessions. You can also indicate your interest on a class enrollment form or if you would like more information about the Curriculum Committee contact ourCommittee Chair  Judy Kirk at judyokirk@gmail.com or call the SPARK office 816-235-2870 and someone will be in contact with you.

What is the Financial Advisory Committee? 

The Financial Advisory Committee serves to assist the Board of Directors in fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities.  The committee advises the SPARK Treasurer regarding fiscal matters that relate to SPARK finances. The treasurer serves as chair of the committee. Specific roles of this committee include:

  • Assisting the treasurer if overseeing the SPARK financial management process.
  • Serve as a resource to monitor and improve fiscal reports including the annual budget.
  • Review and recommend improvement in the fiscal accounting process.
  • Serve as a committee to review and monitor recommendation of the annual audit.
  • Identify and recommend fiscal related polices to the SPARK Board of Directors.

This committee meets bi-monthly as determined by the need of the organization.

If you would like more information about the Financial Advisory Committee or would like to visit one of our meetings, contact our call the SPARK office 816-235-2870 and someone will be in contact with you.

What is the Nominating Committee?

Two months prior to the annual meeting the Nominating Committee will prepare a slate of recommended board members to the Board for approval. The slate will be presented and voted on by the general membership at the annual meeting.