SPARC Student Action Grants to Support Student Problem-Solving

October 2, 2017
SPARC STUDENT ACTION GRANTS to support student problem-solving

Students in Sun Prairie public schools are being challenged to tackle big problems with creative solutions.

Starting this fall, students in Sun Prairie public schools grades 8-12 can apply for SPARC Student Action Grants of up to $500 to fund projects that identify solutions, fill school or community needs, or find creative ways to address issues important to students. Students might use the funds to start new projects or clubs, bring in speakers, hold workshops or trainings, or solve an existing problem or need.

“There’s definitely a need for this kind of program,” says Cathy Pagel, co-director of the SPARC Local Action Fund. “We’ve got kids at Prairie Phoenix Academy who have been talking about starting a food pantry, students at the high school who want to make college visits possible for those who can’t afford them. When we sat down with principals and social workers to discuss the idea, we knew right away that this could lead to some great student-run projects. We can’t wait to see what they come up with. Selecting the recipients is going to be a challenge.”

Reginald McGee, principal of Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School, expressed optimism about the possibilities of student-led projects: “I continue to have frequent conversations with students and groups who are looking for ways to help others.  Just [last week] one of our social workers approached me about starting a new group to address some particular needs and asked about possibilities for fundraising. SPARC Student Action Grants could be an ideal fit in this situation.  I encourage all students and student groups to consider applying for a grant.”

“Our students are brilliant at identifying problems. And they often have ideas for solutions but don’t know where to start putting their ideas into action,” says Heather DuBois Bourenane, co-director of SPARC Local Action Fund. “SPARC Student Action Grants are one small way we can help create safe, supervised, supported opportunities for them to experiment and explore – and develop solutions and leadership skills that will benefit all of us.”

“We always say that ‘today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.’ Why make them wait? We want to invest in that leadership and let young people know that we don’t just need them in the future – their ideas are valuable now.”

The grants are provided by the SPARC Local Action Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that has supported civic engagement and healthy community in Sun Prairie since 2013.  Major projects of the SPARC Local Action Fund include the SnackSmart and Hunger Heroes programs, both of which address student hunger in our public schools. Those who wish to support this work, and the SPARC Student Action Grants, can mail a tax-deductible donation to SPARC Local Action Fund, 6325 Devonshire Lane, Sun Prairie, WI 53590, or donate online at

Students can learn more and apply for SPARC Student Action Grants at  The 2017-2018 deadline for fall proposals is October 31 . Grants will be awarded mid-November. The deadline for spring proposals is February 8, 2018, with grants awarded by April 1.

For more information, contact Heather DuBois Bourenane at (608) 572-1696 or


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