January 24, 2014

SPARK celebrates a decade of serving families

SPARK celebrated its 10th anniversary in late 2013 with more than 200 supporters gathering for a birthday event at Walsh University in Canton, Ohio. SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) is a highly effective, parent-focused kindergarten readiness program that works collaboratively with families, schools and communities.

At the event, keynote speaker (and longtime Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton board member) Robert F. Belden highlighted SPARK’s consistently impressive evaluation results. For eight consecutive years, SPARK children have scored significantly higher than their peers on the kindergarten entry assessment. Plus, SPARK children consistently outscore their peers on the Ohio Achievement Assessments in reading and math through the fifth grade.

In a special video address created for the celebration, Governor John Kasich said, “I congratulate the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and all of its partners for leading the way to a better education for Ohio children through the SPARK program. ...You have a lot of reasons to be proud of all the things that you've accomplished.” Watch Governor Kasich's full video here.

SPARK began as an initiative of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton in partnership with the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The program's management and operations were recently transferred to the Early Childhood Resource Center. By engaging families and strengthening parents as advocates for their children's sustained success, SPARK has helped more than 4,200 children start school ready to succeed. Schools, community partners and funders have invested more than $13 million dollars in the program to date. By the end of 2014, SPARK is expected to serve 2,000 families annually in 10 Ohio counties.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton and the Early Childhood Resource Center are ministries of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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