SPARK (Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge)
4825 Troost Ave
Suite 113
Kansas City MO 64110
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 235-2870
Fax 816- 235-5681
Mission Statement
SPARK's mission is "to provide lifelong learning opportunities through intellectually stimulating, cultural and social experiences which enhance the quality of life for SPARK members".
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Lori Williams
Board Chair Mr. William Webb
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2000
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer Donations may be mailed to the SPARK office: 4825 Troost Ave. Suite 113 Kansas City, MO 64110.  If interested in providing in-kind donations or in volunteer opportunities please call the office at 816-235-2870.
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement SPARK's mission is "to provide lifelong learning opportunities through intellectually stimulating, cultural and social experiences which enhance the quality of life for SPARK members".
Background Statement The history of SPARK is one of a wonderfully successful collaboration of volunteers, committed members and staff from two Kansas City educational institutions; Penn Valley Community College followed by the University of Missouri at Kansas City. The immensely popular Elderhostel, Inc. had formed a partnership called the Elderhostel Institute Network with the Institutes for Learning in Retirement (ILR) programs which had begun in 1962. Following her retirement in the spring of 1993, Barbara Hildner and Bekki Eimer, continuing education coordinator at the Penn Valley Education Center, formed a steering committee to implement the program for Learning in Retirement in the greater Kansas City area. The committee selected a name, mission statement and set fees. SPARK opened the first session of classes at Penn Valley Community College with 112 students. In 1996 SPARK moved to the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has continued to experience growth with membership reaching over 200 members in the past year. SPARK's goal is to provide quality classes and periodic social activities for persons 55 and over in the greater Kansas City area. 
Impact Statement
SPARK, Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge, provides educational and social activities for adults age 55 and over in the greater Kansas City area. High quality programs at reasonable costs and a central location have contributed to the success of SPARK. Office and classroom space on the UMKC campus provide a collegial, stimulating, cultural environment for a growing population of senior citizens. The future holds potential for growth and expansion. The leadership of SPARK is committed to its mission of quality programs for persons 55 and older.
SPARK has recruited a cadre of high quality volunteer instructors for  classes which are held four times a year in six week sessions, with the exception of summer classes which are four weeks in length.
SPARK class schedules, event announcements and social activities are communicated electronically.  An electronic newsletter is sent to members weekly when classes are in session and monthly during the rest of the year.
Looking ahead primary goals include increasing membership in SPARK, increasing public awareness of the organization, continuing to enhance  use of social media and providing stimulating programs for members.
Needs Statement
1. Social media advisement. 
2. Avenues to promote the organization. 
3. Long term stable financial support.
4. Volunteer instructors.
5. Grant writing assistance.
Service Categories
Adult Education
Arts Education
Citizen Participation
Areas of Service
KS - Johnson County
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
MO - Cass County
Geographic Area Served Narrative SPARK is open to anyone in the metro area.  SPARK members are from Johnson County, south Jackson County, Independence, north of the river and the central city.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement
SPARK has a high participation rate among  Life Long Learning organizations in the United States and Canada. High quality distinctive program offerings, reasonable costs and a central location with available parking are the largest contributing factors to this distinction. Connecting seniors to the information age with a variety of computer classes has been one of a successful series of programs.  Course selections for each series of classes provide a wide variety of options for members. In addition, social activities such as book clubs, books to film and an “out to lunch” group are well attended.
Quarterly membership meetings offer members additional social contacts, information about current organizational plans as well as opportunities to introduce potential members to the interesting and meaningful lifelong educational offerings.  The leadership is active and dedicated to the mission of SPARK. UMKC has been generous in providing facilities and basic support services. Membership has been stable the last few years but should begin growing as more baby boomers retire. The Marketing Committee is exploring opportunities for increased visibility of SPARK. Outreach to minority communities is limited and avenues to tap into this population are needed. A strategic plan is in place and a marketing plan is the next focus. Many foundations in the Kansas City area seem more interested in children and families than senior citizens, thus funding sources have been limited. Funding is needed to expand media promotion along with supporting new areas of outreach. Looking ahead, 2020 will be a year of potential and challenges!
Description The key role of SPARK is to provide lifelong learning non-credit, high quality,and modest cost classes to people 55 and older in the greater Kansas City area. Classes are scheduled four semesters a year. Each humanities and computer class meets for two hours once a week for four to six weeks. Humanities classes may include: History, Current events, Music, Literature, Art, Religion, Philosophy, Science, Theater, Law and Health. Computer classes  currently focus on individual needs related to basic and advanced computer functions. Future plans include an introduction to social media applications.  While most courses include texts or other printed information, there are no tests or exams in  SPARK classes
Category Education, General/Other Adult Education
Population Served Adults
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success After taking one class, most members are anxious to experience another. It is not unusual for them to register for two or three classes a semester. The world history class has added a second section to accommodate member interest, several book clubs have reached maximum attendance.  New classes continue to be added to the program as members express new interests and new instructors volunteer their time and talents to new learning experiences.  New members continue to join the organization.
Long-Term Success The desire of SPARK is to help  seniors stay active and informed. SPARK classes have challenged, encouraged and built self confidence, enabling  members to live productive lives in their senior years.
Program Success Monitored By SPARK distributes class evaluations at the end of each semester. The remarks and comments serve as a guideline to the success of the class. After hearing about the interesting and exciting classes from friends new programs are often offered.  As an example, the Civil War classes were actively attended during the recent attention given to that period of  history.  A digital camera class was offered two semesters a year, due to recommendations and feedback by participants.  Students often, after taking a class, request the class be offered again.
Examples of Program Success
Over the years SPARK has had a steady growth in membership. Most of the growth has come from satisfied members telling neighbors and friends of their class experiences. Some members have taken part time jobs after gleaning computer knowledge and others are now teaching a class. A few have moved on to college level credit courses. Testimonials are  a common conversation topic among members.  Several examples are:
  • "I am a college graduate with a degree in nursing. Continued education has been an integral part of my entire life. SPARK has provided the opportunity to meet likeminded people and explore literature, religion and various other subjects for the sheer joy of learning."  

  • "Since my retirement from teaching in the upper school levels, it is pure delight to be on the other side of a desk. The SPARK program quickly became an important part of my life. I look forward to enjoying many years of the intellectual and social benefits and pleasures of the program."

  • "The SPARK program is such an integral part of my life.  I look forward to enjoying many years of the intellectual and social benefits of the program and to the opportunity to teach a SPARK class."

  • "After losing my partner, SPARK offered me a new lease on life at a time when social and intellectual contacts provided new avenues and emotional support to help me get on with my life." 
CEO Comments Enrollment has increased due to a strong program selection. Attendance at social activities remains steady. We continue to explore ways to market the program effectively. A marketing video has been suggested as a tool to attract both members and instructors. The board is also interested in diversifying the membership of the organization. The membership committee is working on strategies to accomplish this goal.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Ms. Lori Williams
Term Start Dec 2019

Lori has nineteen years of experience as a non-profit professional.  She worked as Development Coordinator for the Parkinson Foundation for five years prior to her new position.

Former CEOs
Mr. Jim Fisk-
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Paid Part-Time Staff 1
Paid Contractors 0
Volunteers 60
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
Caucasian 1
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 1
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Under Development
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
  • UMKC
  • Mid America Regional Council
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments
Increasing membership continues to be our focus. Strong programs have helped in that regard. We are beginning to use more social media. The board is exploring avenues to make this happen.
Our recently hired part time coordinator is an asset to the organization. Available funding allowed us to increase this position from three days to four.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. William Webb
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Dec 2019 to Dec 2020
Board Co-Chair
Term Jan to
Board Members
Ms. Baila GoldsteinCommunity Volunteer
Mr George HeiserRetired
Mr. Gary Hindmancommunity volunteer
Mr. Bill HirschRetired
Mr. David Jeter
Mrs. Judy KirkCommunity Volunteer
Mr. Gil NicholsRetired
Ms. Jan ParksCommunity Volunteer
Ms. Nancy Powellretired
Ms Barbara StillmanCommunity Volunteer
Mr. Jay UprightRetired
Mrs. Linda WadeCommunity Volunteer
Mr. William WebbRetired
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 13
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 7
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 90%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 90%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 7
Standing Committees
Special Events (Golf Tournament, Walk / Run, Silent Auction, Dinner / Gala)
CEO Comments
Enrollment has increased due to a strong program selection with additional attention to member interests by the membership committee and additional promotion by the marketing committee.  The membership committee has increased attention to encouraging additional social contact as it created a name tag board in the office, directed attention to new members and offered additional social events for member participation.  Attendance at social activities remains steady.  We continue to explore ways to market the program effectively.  A speaker's bureau accompanied with a media program is currently under development.  It will be available for members to present to interested audiences.  The board is also interested in diversifying the membership of the organization.  The marketing and membership committees are developing strategies to accomplish this goal.  When we speak about SPARK, many are impressed with its breadth and focus on active lifelong learning. Several have expressed that SPARK is one of Kansas City's "Best Kept Secrets." Our long term goal is to keep the organization active and financially viable to enable it to meet the oncoming needs of a new generation of lifelong learners.
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2020
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2020
Projected Revenue $38,250
Projected Expenses $38,250
Form 990s
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016, 2015: Financial data reported from IRS Form 990-EZ. 
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$20,533$30,712$30,899
Administration Expense$56,459$42,225$42,225
Fundraising Expense$3,050$0$0
Payments to Affiliates--$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.131.101.01
Program Expense/Total Expenses26%42%42%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue------
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$36,235$25,814$17,885
Current Assets$36,235$25,814$17,885
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$36,235$25,814$17,885
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments Income and expenses are monitored closely. SPARK has experienced two years of increased membership which in combination with funds from increased class enrollment have demonstrated increased financial stability for the organization.  SPARK is committed to providing quality programs at a reasonable cost.  SPARK has added a financial committee and have recently started using Quick Books for our accounting procedures.
Other Documents
Organization Name SPARK (Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge)
Address 4825 Troost Ave
Suite 113
Kansas City, MO 64110
Primary Phone (816) 235-2870
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Lori Williams
Board Chair Mr. William Webb
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Year of Incorporation 2000