2020: Our Year in Review
A Letter from Our CEO, Brooke Wheeldon-Reece on 2020
As an educational, non-profit organization with only 4.5 staff members and the state of mind of the world severely impacted by COVID-19, our focus on the well-being of young people grew even stronger this year. We became laser focused on shining a light on the SPARK inside the darkness. We were honored to see that effort amplified this year as we joined forces with organizations who share our belief of Speaking to the Potential, Ability, and Resilience inside of every Kid.
We found that when people see their resilience and the potential of their mind on an insightful level, something magical happens. Each time so-called “broken” and “hopeless” kids (and adults alike) have insight into their innate resilience, mental well-being, and potential, possibilities open up for them, their creative juices start flowing again, and they know how to solve their problems. They become leaders and mentors themselves.
We are so thankful to all the people and organizations that supported and partnered with us this year. More so, we are blessed and honored to be a small part of the beauty that unfolded right before us in 2020.
Highlights of 2020
- Our SPARK Group Mentoring Program served 245 Students within 7 elementary classes, 4 middle school classes, 1 youth residential drug treatment center, 2 foster care group home classes, 1 juvenile jail class.
In 2020, our SPARK 1-on-1 Mentoring Program served a total of 45 people: 18 youth (18 and under), 27 adults (young adults, educators, and essential healthcare workers)
Of the 15 SPARK Mentoring groups served: 11 were 100% donated by The SPARK Initiative. The remaining 4 groups were 50% donated by The SPARK Initiative and 50% funded by the School District of Hillsborough County. 100% of the 45 SPARK 1-on-1 Mentoring was donated by The Spark Initiative.
- In 2020, we focused our research efforts on our Elementary and Middle school programs. We are thrilled to announce that successful results came from both programs, officially making all of the SPARK programs, evidenced-based.
- In April 3, 2020, the SPARK Mentoring High School Program was accepted – as 1 of only 20 programs listed – for inclusion in CASEL’s Guide to Effective Social and Emotional Programs.
This year we submitted 3 papers for publication. On November 26, 2020, our research was accepted for publication in the Journal of Psychology in the Schools. 1 down, 2 to go.
- In 2020, after years of seeing incredible results in our separate communities, the Insight to Well-Being curriculum was created in partnership with 2 other non-profit organizations, Beyond Recovery (UK) and The Insight Alliance (Portland, OR). Its release to the public is planned for April 2021.
In 2020, The Insight to Well-Being Program was taught to 23 women in a Tampa jail (12 weekly sessions), 52-weekly sessions in a local safe house for sex-trafficking survivors (estimated 100 women).
- SPARK choose 2 unsuspecting teachers and filled their classrooms with materials. We also partnered with the Andrew Joseph Foundation, Sis, Se Puede and Black Lives Matter Tampa and donated to their Back 2 Learning, Drive Thru School Giveaway Event.
- Created & introduced our newly developed, SPARK Mentoring Program for Young Children, ages 5-8.
- Completely revised our SPARK Child Program for ages, 8-10. Developed 42 ready-made virtual lessons for educators to use in an on-line learning environment.
- Created new parent resources, including lesson letters & activities for home. As well as, a fully virtual parenting course
- Began expansion of the SPARK programs language availability from English to also include Spanish & Hebrew.
- Expanded global network of SPARK-certified facilitators by 96 people working in 12 countries.
- Expanded organizational partnerships to include 22 organizations working in education, mental health, mentoring, & social services.