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Annual Report 2022

A Path to New Beginnings

Spark Mentor & Student

A message from our President and CEO

2022 has been a transformative year at Spark the Journey (formerly Capital Partners for Education). But it has also reinforced the fact that the effects of the pandemic, not to mention increasing economic uncertainty, land heaviest on the community we serve. For many young people, a college degree is a critical stepping stone to financial security. For others, the rising cost of tuition, food, housing, healthcare, and more mean alternate paths are more fruitful both in the short- term and for their future economic mobility. So, like our students, who reach higher every day, this year we reimagined what it means to support young people on their path to success.

Under a new name, a new brand, and a new strategic plan, Spark the Journey has committed to helping more students achieve economic mobility – and reach it faster – than we ever have before. Our updated mission and values are a testament to what we’ve always known to be true: young people are the directors of their own destinies. All we do is offer a spark.

In this report, you’ll hear from students pursuing a tremendous variety of opportunities, and we’ll share more details on our expanded programming, growing partnerships, and benchmarks for the next three years. We could not have increased our impact to the extent that we have – nor could we continue to stretch to new heights – without the support of our mentors, community partners, staff, and donors. Thank you, as ever, for helping us build the world we all want to live in.

KB Signature
Our CEO in discussion
Our Mission

Empowering students to chart their own paths

Spark the Journey provides mentorship and a community of support for young adults to chart their own paths to achieving college and career success. What would our world look like if every young person had the freedom and opportunity to embrace their dreams, whatever they may be? By building a culture and community of support that makes this question a reality, America will be a country that lives up to its promises of equal opportunity and economic mobility—and ensures that every next generation can lead a successful life of their own choosing.

Group of Spark mentors
Mentor Pairs

Meet Kerry and James

Kerry & James
A path to new beginnings

A new strategic plan

In our fiscal year 2022, we embarked on a new multiyear strategic plan. We refined our strategy further by committing to expanding programming to provide students with additional pathways to associate degrees and workforce development credentials correlated with high-growth industries. This strategy allows more of our students to achieve greater economic mobility in a shorter period of time and with less of the long-term financial burden imposed by student loans. We believe this strategy sets the stage for truly transformational growth and will increase our postsecondary degree completion rate to 75%. Our commitment to our students is further reflected through our partnership with the Talent for Tomorrow Alliance (TFT), a collaboration with Spark, Year Up, New Futures, Genesys Works, and Per Scholas. We co-founded the TFT to provide additional workforce development training and alternative paths to career success for those students who do not or cannot complete a four-year degree.

Evolving our programming also required us to evaluate the requirements set for students to join Spark the Journey. Beginning in 2017, Spark’s programming was designed to support students who fell within the academic middle of their peers. These were students who were on the cusp of college eligibility but needed extra guidance and resources to get there. But in the wake of the pandemic, we’ve found that many students are struggling with more than just their grades, and that academic performance itself is no longer a stable predictor of future potential. The challenges of the pandemic have highlighted obstacles our students encounter across the academic spectrum that our organization’s services can address. It is our goal to meet the holistic needs of the young adults we serve and to focus our efforts on providing programming to those who are continuing to persist, despite the challenges they face.

We’re helping students develop skills that are transferrable to both the workplace and college – from navigating the college application process to exploring career opportunities. It’s the untapped light that our team and mentors ignite, empowering the next generation to master their own future and achieve success. We remove the small and large obstacles that might derail their progress. Our program participants are motivated, and they are driven. We tell them they can, and they do.

A path to new beginnings

A new brand

As we enter our 30th year of mentoring low-income DC students, we do so under a new name. Spark the Journey is continuing Capital Partners for Education’s legacy and is growing its community. Our program model and mentors are focused on empowering students who lack the support they need by guiding them through the challenges they face and providing a space so that they can explore possibility with an open mind—and grow into young adults, active leaders, and engaged citizens within their communities.

We envision a future where every young person can attain economic mobility, regardless of ZIP code, educational background, or race. We believe that students have the fuel they need to define their path to success and realize their dreams. All it takes is a spark to start this journey.


When it came to the college process, which was very stressful by the way, my mentor was always there to answer questions and motivate me every step of the way. Having someone there who only wanted to help me was amazing. We actually went to go see different campuses in the area and during those tours, my mentor gave me advice on what to look out for and also gave me advice on questions to ask.

Carlos CamposSpark Alumnus

Our impact in numbers

of students rated their mentoring relationships as meeting or exceeding their expectations
distributed in Emergency Fund Requests to students since the pandemic started
of students reported being more confident in applying to college
of Spark’s high school class of 2022 enrolled in college
of our high school students maintained GPAs above our target levels in the second half of the 2021/22 school year
of students were more confident in setting goals
total internship stipends received by 5 college students from Spark in summer 2022
of Spark post-secondary participants remained enrolled in college during the 2021/22 school year

I will always remember the first time my mentor, Tracy, took me to her office. As a young girl in high school, it was incredibly powerful to see a successful Black woman have her own office in a major law firm. As I sat in her office, I remember feeling extremely grateful to have such an incredible representation of everything I can achieve as long as I follow my passion and use my gifts well.

Spark the Journey not only gave me an incredible mentor and friend, but throughout my college experience helped me pay for books. If it wasn’t for Spark, I would have had a much harder time feeling prepared for my classes. They are a huge reason for my success, and I cannot wait to give back one day in the form of hopefully mentoring someone.

Danielle Moni ZooboSpark Alumna
Paving new paths through programs and initiatives

Spark’s Programming

Spark the Journey’s programming is designed and structured to equip high school and post-secondary students with the skills, knowledge, and networks to thrive in academic and professional environments.

Program participants enter our program through three distinct ways: 1) through our 10 public high school and public charter school partners, 2) the OSSE Dual Enrollment program, and 3) through our partnership with the Talent for Tomorrow Alliance made up of Spark, Year Up, New Futures, Genesys Works, and Per Scholas.

A Spark mentor and Student chat
Spark’s Programming

High School Program

Under our new strategic plan, our high school program has evolved. We’re focusing on the last two years of high school by creating more task-oriented activities around meeting specific benchmarks. This targeted approach allows us to meet students where they are and support them on their college and/or career path.

Spark’s Programming

Post-Secondary Program

Spark’s Post-Secondary Navigation Program is comprised of two distinct phases that students navigate following high school. Phase one focuses on navigating the transition from high school as students prepare for college and career entry. For the first two years after our students graduate high school, they receive short term mentorship each spring/summer to focus specifically on building career skills and attaining internships. They have access to Spark’s support and programming (emergency fund requests, events, semester checklists, curriculum tools, 1:1 program coordinator support, etc.).

Phase two of our post-secondary program focuses on the emerging professional within our program participants who are in years 3 and 4 post-high school. In this phase, the structured mentorship model is revamped as we take more of a reactive case management approach, empowering participants to amplify their voice and seek out the support and services they need. Participants can reach out to their program coordinators and receive support for any issues or concerns they have. They receive periodic resource emails (such as information on attaining scholarships, internships, jobs, etc.). They also have access to our emergency request fund.

During our fiscal year 2022, Spark hosted:

SAT Classes
SAT diagnostic tests
mentor leadership council meetings
student leadership council meetings
virtual school visits with our high school students
mentor trainings
match events
community-building events
career exploration days
virtual open houses
diversity, equity, and inclusion event

Immersing our program participants in a variety of college, career, and community-centered events supports them on their path to success.


My ultimate career goal is to pursue marketing for an organization that prioritizes people who have been marginalized such as the Immigration and Refugee community. I hope to use marketing as a form of sharing these stories and advocating for greater access to resources and opportunities in multiple languages. Spark is helping me achieve this by finding opportunities to become a marketing intern and gain experience.

Julissa GranadosSpark College Student
Paving new paths through programs and initiatives

Spark’s Initiatives

  • Over the past year, we have been referring our students to Year Up, New Futures, and Genesys Works to take part in their programming. Spark students have consistently reported that they find dual-program enrollment to be extremely enriching alongside the core mentorship supportive services they traditionally receive from Spark.
  • We are currently piloting a program to deliver our mentoring services directly to Year Up’s students, who participate in six months of paid job training followed by six months of paid internship placements. During our 2023 fiscal year, we aim to match up to 120 young people with Spark mentors who will support them through their Year Up experience.
Spark student
Looking ahead – Expanding our reach

Talent for Tomorrow Alliance

Spark’s involvement in the Talent for Tomorrow Alliance has proven beneficial to promoting college and career success. Currently, Spark has a formal partnership with Year Up and is in the process of designing new partnerships with Genesys Works and New Futures that are expected to launch in fall 2023. Each of these partners refer their students to Spark who they believe benefit from a mentor and structured curriculum. Over the next three years, we anticipate supporting an additional 480 young people through these partnerships and pipeline programs and working with up to 120 students annually from partner organizations.

Talent for Tomorrow Alliance participants

The internship at Genesys Works taught me the importance of teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills. Receiving intern of the year at Genesys Works opened my eyes to the many things I want to accomplish in life. When I earned the award, I felt like I could do anything as long as I remain confident, consistent, and focused.

Jaheim SmithSpark College Student
Looking ahead – Expanding our reach

Strategic Plan Goals

Over the next three years, we anticipate:

additional students placed on the path to economic mobility
of participants will be employed in a career field associated with their degree within six months of program completion
of students will complete an internship, externship, or job shadowing opportunity made possible by new corporate and community partners
mentors recruited to support this growth
Looking ahead – Expanding our reach

Student Number Growth

Growth in Participants Graph


4 students


483 students


1015 students (projected)


Cathy and I are so grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with Spark the Journey for 20 years now. Education totally changed my life, so it’s truly inspiring to see the incredible improvements Spark has made in the lives of so many low-income students in the DC area and their families. Spark has evolved from a start-up nonprofit providing mentors and financial assistance to a small number of students in private high schools to a sophisticated organization providing mentors, programming, and financial assistance to over 950 students in public high schools, colleges, and the workplace beyond. Thus, the reason for the change in name to Spark the Journey! Today, Spark is empowering a substantial number of students to improve the quality of their lives and we have very ambitious plans to do even more in the years ahead. We couldn’t have done what we have so far, and we won’t be able to accomplish all that we aspire to in the future, without our dedicated mentors, generous donors, and excellent staff. I’m incredibly proud of all that Spark has done and is doing, and I’m optimistic that we can make an even greater difference in the years ahead. Onward!

Warren GorrellSpark Board Member


Total: $3,413,653

Direct Program Support






Management and General



Two Spark mentors and student
Get Involved

Ways to support our mission

Your continued support can help Spark the Journey further its mission to give all our students the support they need. You can give a financial gift to Spark or apply to become a mentor. Learn more by visiting our website.

Visit our Website
Spark Mentor & Student
Our Leadership

Board of Directors

Theodore A. Schwab

Co-Founder & Chairman Emeritus, Founding Partner & Managing Director, Steward Partners Global Advisory

The Honorable Mary K. Bush

Board Chair President and Founder Bush International, LLC

Carol Adelman, PH.D.

Director, The Hudson Institute Center for Global Prosperity

Johnson Bademosi

NFL athlete and Spark, Gonzaga, and Stanford alum

John A. Bates

Partner, Potomac Equity Partners

Cathy Bernasek

Independent Consultant in the Nonprofit Sector

Gina Coburn


J. Warren Gorrell, Jr.

CEO Emeritus and Partner, Hogan Lovells

Dorothy Helfenstein

Independent Consultant/Senior Advisor in the Government Consulting Sector

Sarah Iddrissu

Chief of Staff to Congressman Jamaal Bowman

Margot Machol Bisnow

Author, Raising an Entrepreneur

James E. Nevels

Founder & Chairman, The Swarthmore Group

Charles Rossotti

Senior Advisor, The Carlyle Group

Macani Toungara

Director, Social and Environmental Responsibility at Dell Technologies

Dennis Via

Executive Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton

Ambassador Michael M. Wood

Chairman, Redwood Investments, LLC

Thank You

School Partners

  • Benjamin Banneker Academic High School
  • McKinley Technology High School
  • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School
  • Capital City Public Charter School
  • TransSTEM Academy at Cardozo Education Campus
  • Columbia Heights Education Campus
  • Cesar Chavez Parkside High School
  • Washington Leadership Academy
  • Phelps Architecture, Construction, and Engineering High School
  • Bard High School Early College DC
Group of Spark students
Thank You

Our Corporate Partners

Thank You

Our Donors

  • Anonymous Individual Donor 1
  • Charles and Barbara Rossotti
  • Ceres Foundation
  • Michael and Kathryn Hanley
  • D.C. Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes
  • Sunrise Foundation
  • The Volgenau Foundation
  • Michael and Judith Wood
  • Capital One
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 2
  • Philip L. Graham Fund
  • Scheidel Foundation
  • The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation
  • The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
  • John and Karen Bates
  • Cathy and Brian Bernasek
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Scott and Patrice Brickman
  • The Honorable Mary K. Bush
  • CityBridge Foundation
  • Clark Construction
  • Clark-Winchcole Foundation
  • Gina and Brooke Coburn
  • Crowell & Moring Foundation
  • David and Elizabeth Ford
  • Georgetown University
  • Warren and Catherine Gorrell
  • Harman Family Foundation
  • Hillsdale Fund, Inc.
  • International Monetary Fund IMF Civic Program
  • Joey Kaempfer
  • KB Home
  • Burks Lapham
  • David and Barbara Lipman
  • Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs MOLA
  • Thomas Monahan and Sharon Marcil
  • Kevin and Mary Phillips
  • Share Fund
  • Brian and Stephanie Spector
  • Meredith and Martin Sumner
  • T. Rowe Price
  • The Herb Block Foundation
  • The Richard E. & Nancy P. Marriott Foundation
  • General Dennis & Linda Via
  • Mike Wood Jr. and Jennifer Wood
  • Bernstein Management Corporation
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 3
  • President and Mrs. George W. Bush
  • Dorothea and Charles Clark
  • Philip Dolan
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 4
  • Elliott Ferguson and Telesa Via
  • James and Tracy Millar
  • Guy Molinari
  • Donna Morea and Jeff Chandler
  • Palo Alto Networks
  • Paul and Chandler Tagliabue
  • The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
  • Charlie Thomas
  • Venable Foundation
  • Walsh O’Brien Fund
  • Ann and James Zielinski
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 5
  • Carol and Ken Adelman
  • Smita and Vipul Amin
  • Jeremy and Devon Anderson
  • Frank and Georgine Anton
  • Johnson Bademosi
  • Mia and Timothy Bass
  • Amy Belasco
  • Wesley Bieligk
  • Marvin Bush and Margaret Conway Molster
  • Carolyn and Jamie Butler
  • Maureen Chelius
  • Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church
  • Deloitte
  • David Dempsey and Sarah Albertson
  • Renato and Pat DiPentima
  • ECS Tech
  • Jamie and Daniel Edwards
  • Steven and Susan Engel
  • Prentiss and Gail Feagles
  • Emily Field
  • Gartner
  • Marilyn and Michael Glosserman
  • Patrick and Sheila Gross
  • Kelly and Sean Hafner
  • Sophie and Val Hawkins
  • Nicholas and Kimberly Hayman
  • Amie Hsia and Ben Harder
  • Praveen and Kaili Jeyarajah
  • Daniel Kaplan and Kay Richman
  • Lauralyn and Peter Lee
  • Karen and Tim Lohnes
  • Margot Machol Bisnow and Mark Bisnow
  • Fred and Britlan Malek
  • Kathleen and Steuart Martens
  • Danielle McCoy
  • Janet and Gary McDavid
  • Matthew and Lori McGill
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Eric Middleton
  • Severina Mladenova and Matthew Nicely
  • Steven and Elise Museles
  • Mary and Stuart Nash
  • Bridget and Greg Nikodem
  • Pamlico Capital Fund
  • Phillips Family Foundation
  • Laurence Platt and Clare Herington
  • Thomas Pyle and Bijal Parikh
  • Robert P. and Arlene R. Kogod Family Foundation
  • Richard and Joanne Rome
  • Theodore and Claire Schwab
  • David Siegel
  • Jill and Steven Hayes Smith
  • Chip and Hallie Smith
  • Tegna Foundation
  • Monica and John Thompson
  • Macani Toungara
  • United Bank
  • United Health Group
  • Alexandra Walsh and Brendan O’Brien
  • W. Edward and Carole Walter
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Robert Williams
  • Winsight, LLC
  • YPO US Capital Chapter
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 6
  • Matthew Bando
  • Julie Banzhaf-Stone
  • Adam Bernard
  • Robert and Nancy Bloch
  • John Campbell
  • Nina and Andrew Eisenberg
  • Olugbenga Erinle
  • Fannie Mae
  • Franklin Templeton
  • Allison and Akin Harrison
  • William Hayman
  • Jennifer Henn
  • Scott and Shelley Hughes
  • Marvin Irby
  • Patrick J Carroll
  • Judith Jones
  • Nicholas Karzon
  • Tanya and Hudson La Force
  • Harrison Laird
  • LLR Partners
  • Christopher Lopez
  • Reginald Love
  • Kimberly McMillan
  • Oluwaremilekun Mehner
  • Meg Merrifield and Fabrice Souchaud
  • Microsoft
  • Miles Migliara
  • Richard Miller
  • Caroline and Neil Polhemus
  • Presser and Murch
  • John Sargent
  • Edith and Jerry Schaeffer
  • Mary Beth Schultz
  • Marie Sylla
  • The Ruth H Kemp Memorial Foundation
  • The Sack Law Firm P.C.
  • Jacquelyn and Richard Trefry
  • Maura Vanderzon
  • Caroline Van Zile
  • Roger and Diane Warin
  • Katherine Wiegmann
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy
  • Lindsay and John Akridge
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 7
  • Fred Ansell
  • Adelaide and John Barrett
  • Annie and Hunter Bennett
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 8
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 9
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 10
  • Nadine Duplessy Kearns and Curtis Kearns
  • Elizabeth Ehinger and Thomas White
  • Anne Evans and Bill Wallace
  • Claire and Jake Farver
  • Kathleen Flynn
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 11
  • Nathaniel Green
  • Julie Green
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 12
  • Ann Marie Guzzi
  • Michele Hagans
  • Casey Hassenstein
  • Judy Heisley-Bishop and Leland Bishop
  • Des Hogan and Mindy Holmes
  • Arthur Horne
  • Valarie Johnson
  • Curtis Kemp
  • Kent Killelea
  • Ned and Betsy Mandel
  • Everett Ofori
  • Dalton Patterson
  • Carol Pensky
  • Katherine Roberts
  • Mark and Elizabeth Spoto
  • Eileen M Stewart
  • Susan and Charles Strittmatter
  • Michael Sullivan
  • Mary Frances Taymans
  • Dennis Tracey
  • Tamia Ward and Benjamin Blakely
  • Jim Welch
  • Ted and Grace Benson
  • Nicole Abera
  • Diana and Bonnie Acosta
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 13
  • Justin Akuffo
  • William Alexander
  • Rachel Allbritten
  • Amazon Smile
  • L Angli
  • Linda and Waldemar Antoniewicz
  • AT&T
  • Joshua Aurand
  • Ranya Ayoub
  • Pranavi Baisetty
  • Diamond Bell
  • Virginia and Jack Bell
  • Mary Bender
  • Tabitha Bethelmy
  • Lydell Bridgeford
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 14
  • Khari Brown and Yasemin Washington Brown
  • Dorry and Julian Brown
  • Christopher Broz
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 15
  • Stefanie Carlisle
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 16
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 17
  • Steve Cohen
  • Maureen Conly
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 18
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 19
  • Stephanie Demperio
  • Thomas deVries
  • Jeff and Kathryn Diguette
  • Laura and Marshall Dinerman
  • Mahoganey Dixon McCrae
  • Stephanie D McKinnie
  • Karen Dresden
  • Paul Dyer
  • Jeffrey D’Onofrio
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 20
  • Lynn Erskine
  • Jim Ervin
  • Janis Evans
  • Sarah Ferris
  • Leila Finucane
  • Vicki Fleming
  • Matthew Flynn
  • Eric Forseter
  • Adriana Foster
  • Anmarie Gaalaas
  • Antoine and Carol Garibaldi
  • Laurie and Carl Gershman
  • Marnel and Matthew Goins
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 21
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 22
  • Barbara Hawk
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 23
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 24
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 25
  • Wanda Hill
  • Blair Hoffman
  • Daniel Howard
  • Kara Hughley
  • Kendall Hussey
  • Bradley Jensema
  • Ibby Jeppson
  • Jaye Jones
  • Judy Josephs
  • Joshua Kelley
  • Leslie Kingslow
  • Nicole and Abbigail Kolich
  • Carley Kolker
  • Anne Kraft
  • Myra Kressner
  • Paige Lawal
  • Paulette Lawal
  • Jessica Li
  • Liebergott Family Fund
  • Samantha L Musacchia
  • Erin Loken
  • Sara Love Rawlings
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 26
  • Sonia Luthra
  • Macy’s, Inc.
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 27
  • Gary Martha Ray
  • Eliza McGraw
  • David Miller
  • Mitch Morrison
  • Tiffany M Ray
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 28
  • Abel Núñez
  • Bianca Okhaifor
  • Faisat Oluokun
  • Raeeq Osman
  • Karla Palmer
  • Sarah Pattison
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 29
  • Thomas Qualey
  • Qiana Ray
  • Dominic Redmond
  • Jerry Rehm
  • Arlene Reich
  • Tracy Revis
  • Candace Ridgway
  • Joel Rocher
  • Deena Rubin
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 30
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 31
  • Bruce and Martha Searby
  • Seth Shapiro
  • Deion Sharpe
  • Kaylah Simmons
  • Darin Simmons
  • Patricia Simon
  • Michelle Simon
  • Mikko Simon
  • Shiree Skinner
  • Myiah Smith
  • Gabrielle Starr
  • Daniel Stein
  • Anna Stein
  • Emma Stewart
  • Anne Susan Baxter
  • Claudia Taubman
  • Ebony Thomas
  • Allison Tiller
  • Tracey Twyman
  • Danielle Tyler
  • Van Der Waag
  • Anthony Virgil
  • Sophie Virgil
  • Nikiah Wade
  • Mark Weinstein
  • Lajetta White
  • James White
  • Janice Whyte-Whitworth
  • Anonymous Individual Donor 32
  • Michael Winfield
  • Candice Wright
  • Melinda Young
  • Kalikolehuaakanealii Zabala-Moore
  • Zoom Communications
  • Heide and David Zufall