Monday, August 3, 2020

Spark Foundation: Investing in our Youth

By Petrina D’Souza, 20 May, 2019

    "We created the Spark Foundation because we believe the greatest investment we can make today is not in any particular cause, but in our youth. We are working to cultivate a new generation of leaders that share the common goal of enhancing society.” - Abdul Ladha, Director of SPARK Foundation



    In 2016, Spark Global Philanthropy Canada (popularly known as Spark Foundation) was founded to promote and teach strategic philanthropic practices that empower youth to understand and navigate charity. “We created the Spark Foundation because we believe the greatest investment we can make today is not in any particular cause, but in our youth. We are working to cultivate a new generation of leaders that share the common goal of enhancing society, and so far, our investment has been extremely rewarding,” explains Abdul Ladha, director of the Foundation.

    Through various Spark programs, students engage with individuals who have dedicated their lives to giving back, set aside their wealth to benefit others and invested in the future of their communities. “Our roster of speakers, who share their personal journeys into philanthropy, never fail to inspire our students. Such individuals include President Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Amed Khan, Petra Nemcova, Ravi Singh, Stuart Weitzman, and many others. Students learn from these philanthropists, take in advice, and have the unprecedented opportunity to work and volunteer alongside them,” shares Ladha. A much-awaited, annual event of the Foundation is the Spark Gala, which showcases philanthropy at its very best.

    This spectacular evening of food, entertainment and amazing live auction prizes took place on May 10, 2019, at the Parq Vancouver. This year’s gala showcased the success of the Foundation’s philanthropy programs, new initiatives such as Spark Junior and the Portfolio and Endowment Management Program, and how Spark has grown since its inception. “This event is our opportunity to shine the spotlight on the passion, fierce intelligence, and the raw talent of our students, who are truly members of the next generation of leaders poised to make change. Spark programs now empower, teach and mentor youth from the age of seven through high school, post-secondary education and into the job market, with the skill set required to be active and contributing members of society,” says Ladha proudly.

    A key philosophy of Spark programs is philanthropy taught by philanthropists, bringing individuals working in all sectors of philanthropy locally and abroad to inspire and teach students how they can make their greatest impact. Following this principle, the Guest of Honour at Spark Gala was United Nations Champion of the Earth, Afroz Shah. Shah’s work to clean-up the beaches of Mumbai in India, particularly Versova Beach, has been labelled by the UN as the biggest beach clean-up in the world. Proceeds from the gala support the Spark Foundation’s youth empowerment programs that teach youth to navigate and understand the landscape of philanthropy, create change in their local and global communities, and provide student-directed funding to humanitarian aid projects and education for women, children and refugees worldwide.

    The Foundation’s newest program, Spark Junior, is a creative initiative aimed to inspire children aged seven to 14 to become involved in philanthropy. It is a program for children and their families to learn the activities to curate a generous spirit in the next generation. Through over six sessions students will be introduced to the fundamentals and history of philanthropy, as well as key aspects of early learning such as social etiquette and financial literacy. “Spark Junior is today’s investment in tomorrow’s leaders and for some [it] will be their first experience of giving, fostering a life-long dedication to philanthropy,” adds Ladha.

    The Spark Portfolio and Endowment Management Program will teach students the skill set needed to manage an investment portfolio and become sound financial stewards of endowed capital. “A group of 25 students are working with and learning from top financial analyzes, fund managers, and industry titans,” informs Ladha. Three select students from this group will then work with industry experts to manage Spark’s endowment. Other programs at the Foundation include Spark’s Philanthropy Program and the annual Spark Summit.

    Visit for more information on the programs.


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