Spark-Y™ is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization providing sustainable education for youth through local Twin Cities high schools and partner organizations. Founded in 2009 by Mary Helen Franze, our organization has been growing rapidly. We currently partner with over 10 schools, host an annual summer internship program, and serve approximately 600 youth each year. To help youth discover knowledge and empowerment we use programs focused on urban agriculture systems including: aquaponics, vermicomposting, algae cultivation, and mushroom cultivation. During coursework, students learn to construct and build the systems as a team guided by a rich curriculum covering diverse subject matter.
Our programs appeal to youth from all walks of life. With direct supervision and guidance from Spark-Y’s operations team, students experience real-world applications of sustainability, entrepreneurship, construction, science, and math – and are exposed to ideas and concepts that are fresh and exciting. In keeping with our focus on sustainability, the framework of curriculum addresses global problems such as pollution, environmental degradation, economic inequality, financial uncertainty, job scarcity, and health through local action. Our education illustrates nature’s model of abundance, using sustainable case studies to create solutions for the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Spark-Y is an organization run for youth, by youth. Our operations team consists of young professionals, recent graduates, college students, and high school students. Together we perfect our agriculture systems at our Sustainable Education Lab headquarters. Then we mobilize to instruct and guide high schools and youth across the Twin Cities — youth teaching youth to build tomorrow’s leaders.