SPARK (Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge)
4825 Troost Ave
Suite 214D
Kansas City MO 64110
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 235-2870
Mission Statement
The Mission of this organization shall be, "to provide lifelong learning opportunities through intellectually stimulating, cultural and social experiences which enhance the quality of life for SPARK members."
CEO/Executive Director
Board Chair Mr. Jay Upright
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2000
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 The Mission of this organization shall be, "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 metro 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 (because faculty volunteers their time to teach) 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 our mission of quality programs for persons 55 and older.
We have recruited a cadre of high quality instructors for our classes which are held four times a year in six week sessions, with the exception of summer classes which are four weeks in length.
Many of the organization's class schedules, event announcements and social activities are now handled electronically. We have  an electronic newsletter that is sent to members weekly when classes are in session and monthly during the rest of the year.
Looking ahead the primary goals include increasing membership in SPARK, increasing public awareness of the organization, continuing to enhance our 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 for the quarterly programs.
5. Grant writing assistance.
Service Categories
Adult Education
Arts Education
Citizen Participation
Areas of Service
Our organization is open to anyone in the metro area, we have members from Johnson County, south Jackson County, Independence, north of the river and in 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 Membership 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, 2018 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 computers 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 the SPARK classes
Category Education, General/Other Adult Education
Population Served Adults, ,
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's interests, 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 to the organization..
Long-Term Success The desire of SPARK is to help our seniors stay active and informed. Our classes have challenged, encouraged and built self confidence, enabling SPARK members to live productive lives in their senior years.
Program Success Monitored By SPARK hands out 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 our history.  A digital camera class was offered two semesters a year, due to recommendations and feedback by participants.  Students often, after taking the 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, as mentioned earlier, 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

SPARK is currently in the process of hiring someone for this position.

Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Paid Part-Time Staff 1
Volunteers 60
Paid Contractors 0
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 helping in that regard. We are beginning to use more social media. The board is exploring avenues to make this happen.
Our recently retired part time coordinator was an asset to the organization. Available funding allowed us to increase this position from three days to four.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Jay Upright
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Dec 2016 to Dec 2017
Board Members
Ms Wanda Adkins Retired
Ms. Baila Goldstein Community Volunteer
Ms. Joni Green Retired
Ms Jane Harrell Retired
Mr George Heiser Retired
Mr. Bill Hirsch Retired
Mrs. Judy Kirk Community Volunteer
Ms. Virginia Lambright Community Volunteer
Mrs. Symie Menitove community Volunteer
Mr. Gil Nichols Retired
Ms Barbara Stillman Community Volunteer
Mr. Jay Upright Retired
Mrs. Linda Wade Community Volunteer
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 13
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 4
Female 9
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 75%
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's 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 marketing committee is expanding attendance at special fairs and programs related to the needs of retirees.  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, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 30, 2017
Projected Revenue $73,000
Projected Expenses $73,000
Form 990s
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported from IRS Form 990 EZ. 
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.
  • For FY 2014: the total revenue is $71,175 however on the 2014 990-EZ, Part 1, line 9 states total revenue as $71,147, indicating an additional error. Also, the total expenses on line 17 states $683,683 however the actual total expenses is $68,383. Lastly, on Part II, page 2 of the 990 EZ, line 22 states $18,450 in cash, however line 27 states $15,608 as net assets, indicating an error in asset calculation.
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$30,712$30,899$68,383
Administration Expense$42,225$42,225$0
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.101.011.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses42%42%100%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$25,814$17,885$15,608
Current Assets$25,814$17,885$15,608
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$25,814$17,885$15,608
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
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 2 years of increased membership which in combination with funds from increased class enrollment have demonstrated increased financial stability for the organization.  We are committed to providing quality programs at a reasonable cost.  We have added a financial committee and have recently started using Quick Books for our accounting procedures.
Organization Name SPARK (Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge)
Address 4825 Troost Ave
Suite 214D
Kansas City, MO 64110
Primary Phone (816) 235-2870
Contact Email
Board Chair Mr. Jay Upright
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Year of Incorporation 2000