SPARK (Strong, Prepared and Ready for Kindergarten) is an education initiative of Fox Valley United Way. This collaboration includes Fox Valley United Way; the city of Aurora, Illinois; School Districts 129 (West Aurora), 131 (East Aurora), 204 (Indian Prairie) and 308 (Community Unit); the Aurora Public Library; and the Illinois Action for Children in partnership with Aurora early childhood development agencies.
We help underserved Aurora families with children age birth through five connect to early education and childcare that will prepare their children for success in life. We achieve this by building awareness and uniting efforts among families, funders, policymakers, program providers and the Aurora community.
SPARK is not a direct service; rather, we leverage and help coordinate early childhood resources available to families. As the hub of a vital community wheel, SPARK influences objectives, decisions and funding for early childhood development both in Aurora and throughout Illinois.
Self-sustaining, we create and maintain our own budget. SPARK receives its funding from foundation and education grants as well as contributions from other community leaders and organizations.
To find out more about our history, check out our latest Annual Report, Focus on the First Five Years.
SPARK supports families with young children through:
- educational workshops
- developmental screenings
- a community agency directory
- one point of entry for families to enroll in early childhood services and education
We have also led the Race to the Top Aurora Innovation Zone, an effort uniting community leaders, school districts, early childhood programs and community agencies to build an early learning and development system that will improve outcomes for Aurora’s high-need children.
Because of SPARK’s efforts, Aurora now has 21 additional classrooms serving and developing Aurora’s children age birth through five.