Spark 12: helping to change the world one idea at a time

This past week, on the 1st day of April, applications were released for a new United Methodist initiative called Spark12. Spark12 invests in young entrepreneurs to launch innovative ideas that will transform the world. Spark12 is a faith-based catalyst that provides funding, coaching, and resourcing to bring these ideas to life.

Spark12seeks to make an intentional investment into particular ideas–whether a passionate person or a team–not just tackling a small idea, but an idea that in a very real sense could change a community–and also the world, says Spark12 design team member Rev. Theon Johnson III, Director of the Jackson State Wesley Foundation in Jackson, MS.

When we asked him to speak directly to college ministers and chaplains Theon said: “I imagine that if you’re working with some of the young people that I am, you’re hearing conversations that are saying ‘there is something wrong with the way the world is working.’ The conversation is immediately focused on how to make the world a better place today.Spark12 is an intentional space and place for young people to receive training, mentoring, funding, and direction to work out (and live out) their ideas to transform the world.

Rev. Johnson also noted that “many non-profits have amazing ideas and start with clear, focused initiative flop within a year–not because they weren’t great ideas or grounded or well planned, but they flop because of lack of resources, recognition in the community, and mentoring. Spark12 will help provide the holistic resourcing that will enable them to go out and be the idea and the change in the world.

Spark12 is a launchpad or catalyst for world changing ideas and people–AND, the only requirements for the application are that individuals or teams have a high school diploma/GED, are between the ages of 18-35, and have an idea that might transform a local community and have potential implications for other communities in our global context. Theon again: “Because of globalization, both the global and local contexts are inextricably linked–we’re at a  place in the world where we’re seeing particular needs that have both local and global consequences.

Spark12 is an initiative to support justice oriented, community-based projects proposed by young people who are actively looking for a way to move that dream into reality. A final word of blessing from our conversation with Theon: “I give thanks for initiatives such as this one because they model the sense of hopefulness that is foundational in our christian tradition–there is something theologically significant about the idea of launching innovation from a small space that will transform the world.”

// Applications and more information about Spark12 can be found at Spark12.org , follow them on twitter @spark12org, and keep up on Facebook with Spark12 here//

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