Do You Have a Hero in Mind?

In our work to spotlight and support local heroes in education, we reach out to our connections across Los Angeles for leads on potential candidates. We search for educators, students, and others involved in schools that share the following characteristics.

A Lumenary is an individual or group that:

  • works at a school or supports an educational institution,
  • makes a positive impact on students or community members in an underserved area (often doing so through work beyond her/his current job),
  • demonstrates an understanding of the community’s needs with a project that can inspire others.

A SparQ is a student or student group that:

  • takes on a project to help to solve a problem impacting their peers or a community in need,
  • focuses on themes such as poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, racial inequality, social justice, and others that we value as an organization;
  • demonstrates a strong passion for the project and a desire to make a positive impact.

These pioneers are already doing meaningful work. The mission at LumenSparQ is to help them reach higher ground and share their story with the world.

If you live in Los Angeles and have someone in mind who embodies the role of a Lumenary or SparQ as described above, please reach out to us through the contact form, giving a brief description of the hero(es) and the work they do.

Our team evaluates all candidates and strives to connect with as many as possible. We are grateful for your thoughtful consideration of potential candidates.

Lumenaries & SparQs

As we spotlight and support our local heroes, we place them in two distinct categories. The first category is for adults, be they teachers, administrators, or staff, performing a social good.

We call them Lumenaries (intentional spelling to match our organization’s name).

Support for Lumenaries may come in the form of financial assistance to further enhance or maintain the project on which they are working, say an after school program for parent education. Support may involve providing supplies a teacher needs to coordinate an after school event for students and families. Help may come through professional development to increase a faculty’s technology skills to improve teaching during remote learning.

The second category is for students, those that go above and beyond the regular school day to take on a passion project that impacts others in need.

We call them SparQs.

These students may be working toward a solution to a local community problem, like food insecurity, or helping to bring awareness to broader societal issues, like systemic racism or gender equality. Support for SparQs may include financial assistance to fill a gap in funding their project, providing materials needed as they engage in their work, or possibly hands-on resources through volunteer support.

We will best understand our heroes’ actual needs as we come to know their story deeply. Through this discovery, the details of their mission come to light, and we can determine our clearest and most effective path to support them. Every story is different, and every need is thereby unique. We remain flexible as an organization to assist these heroes in the most effective manner possible.

In the coming months, the website will have links to our heroes’ stories with pages dedicated to Lumenaries and SparQs. We invite you to learn more about each of these and consider what role you may play in future projects.

Building a Team

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.” 

Nicholas Sparks

As a kid, I would hear the old saying, “If you want something done right, do it yourself!” This statement, masterfully applied when things weren’t going as anticipated, reinforced the notion of going it alone and trusting no one. Over the years, having worked in institutions where collaboration and teamwork were not just encouraged but essential for success, I have come to embrace precisely the opposite.

Last night we welcomed two new members to our Board of Directors, Christine and Armando Franco. Both Christine and Armando bring a lifetime of teaching, working with youth, and a deep passion for making this world a better place. Importantly, we carry decades of friendship and trust with the Francos into this new working relationship, and the excitement over this new venture is palpable.

We have only held our second board meeting, and the reality has begun to creep in that what we are doing can and will have a lasting impact on communities and schools here in Los Angeles. There is much work ahead, but it is less daunting knowing that we have new team members at our side ready to take on the challenges and adventures that await us.

We closed the evening with the Francos making MyIntent bracelets. Their word choices: Care, Give, and Healer. Befitting testimonial monikers.

Our Mission

“To spotlight and support our local heroes in education”

LumenSparQ Mission Statement

Here at LumenSparQ, our mission is to spotlight our local heroes and give support through financial, human, and material resources as best fit each situation. If we discover a local hero providing food and other necessities to families in need, we may support them with the person-power to package and distribute supplies. Or, our support may take the form of supplying specific goods they may be lacking. If a local hero is providing after school classes for parents, help can come from purchasing learning materials or through in-person professional development and coaching.

The critical point is that we don’t know what we may find with each new case. We will maintain a high level of flexibility to support in ways where our strengths are the most impactful and our existing resources most helpful.

In addition to these forms of support, we want to share our hero’s experience with a broader audience. We will focus a spotlight on our hero’s story through our website and social media outlets, share the good work, and inspire others to get involved.

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LumenSparQ, Why the Name?

Lumen – A measurement of light, the approximate amount of light emitted from one birthday candle. 1

Spark – a small fiery particle thrown off from a fire, a trace of a specified quality or intense feeling. 2

When brainstorming a potential name for the organization, we knew we wanted it to meet specific criteria. The name should:

  • Relate to our mission and vision;
  • Be unique, easy to pronounce, and “spark” curiosity;
  • Hold a bit of quirkiness or whimsy to stick in the mind of the viewer.

We felt that a word related to “light” was important. Light conveys positive thoughts and intentions. Shining a light on something brings awareness. Carrying a torch can define love or victory. In hard times, we hold out hope for the light at the end of the tunnel. A superstar shines bright.

A spark, or in our case, the liberal spelling “sparq” with a Q, can signify the start of something new, or the spreading of ideas. The added definition of “a trace of a specified quality or intense feeling” further reinforces our mission to support heroes passionate about the work they do.

Through this process, we arrived at LumenSparQ, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Well, our history is still ahead, waiting to be told.

1. HTTPS://IEANDS.COM/WHAT-IS-A-LUMEN/, 2. FROM OXFORD LANGUAGES

A Long Time Coming

We have discussed and dreamed about the idea of creating a nonprofit organization for years. We knew we wanted to positively impact people’s lives, particularly people at an economic disadvantage or facing struggles that most of us might never encounter.

We also knew that we wanted to start in the field we knew best, education. Because of our connections to the people and resources in this field, and because public education is a sector in great need at all age levels, this was a desirable starting point.

Our focus areas may likely shift over time, as we grow as an organization and our mission evolves. For now, we would like to focus on spotlighting local heroes that are already doing good work and supporting them through financial, human, and material resources. Each case is unique, and our response will reflect that uniqueness accordingly.

If you are reading this, then you likely share our hope to make the world a better place, and you probably care about the public education system and hope to support efforts to improve it. We’d love to hear from you.

Where do we hope to be a year from now? If we can successfully fund four projects, once a quarter, we would be very satisfied. It may seem like a small goal, but it’s more than we are doing now, and that’s a good thing.

If you want to play a role in this journey, however large or small, please reach out to us.

Welcome to LumenSparQ!

John and Katya, co-founders.