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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 sponsor. There were obvious benefits to both parties. UMKC would have a 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. In 2019 we are celebrating our 25th Anniversary and continuing to provide lifelong learning opportunities and social events for active adults in the Kansas City area.

At the beginning of 2020 SPARK relocated from the second floor of the UMKC Troost building to the first. This move was made to aid our members with mobility issues. With the outbreak of Covid-19 in the first quarter of 2020 SPARK embraced online classes via the Zoom Platform for our Summer 2020 quarter. This change in holding classes not only allowed our members to remain socially distant but also gave us the opportunity to launch the SPARK YouTube channel. While SPARK prefers to hold classes face to face, we were grateful to have this option to keep our members engaged and healthy,

In 2021, SPARK moved from the Arts and Science Department to UMKC’s External Relations and Constituent Engagement division as part of the University’s lifelong learning initiative.  Starting in the Fall of 2021, most classes will be presented in a “hybrid” format allowing members to attend in-person or via Zoom to allow participation for members with mobility or distance barriers.