Early childhood education can be a key in propelling students towards a path for success. In the United States, investment in early childhood education programing has been shown to yield around $12 for every dollar invested.[1] The opportunity to have a profound impact on students’ lives in both the near and long-term is amplified even further in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 80% of children have no access to pre-primary school programs.


A new program spearheaded in partnership between a Chicago preschool and a Chicago-based nonprofit, will have a particularly powerful impact on a vulnerable community in Zambia. Lincoln Park Preschool and Kindergarten has partnered with Spark Ventures to launch a new preschool at Hope Community School in Twapia – a township outside of Ndola, Zambia, in the heart of the country’s copper-belt.


To launch this initiative, Lincoln Park Preschool’s (LPP) leadership team traveled last month with Spark Ventures to Zambia on Spark’s Impact Travel initiative to meet with the leadership of Spark’s Zambia partner, Hope Community School. Their team brought resources and worked with local educators at the school to develop a culturally sensitive curriculum, activities and lessons.


Lincoln Park Preschool has committed to being a long-term partner with Spark Ventures on this initiative for the coming years, sending teachers, supplies and funds to help empower and create effectiveness and sustainability for the program. One LPP’s core values is the belief and intention that all children no matter their zip code deserve access to high quality early education. They strongly believe that all children have potential yet not all children are given opportunity.


This long-term partnership was critical for Spark Ventures when they chose to work with LPP on this initiative. As an organization, Spark Ventures builds partnerships that lift communities out of poverty. They place an important emphasis on sustainable and lasting programming – looking to break cycles of dependency commonly associated with traditional international aid.


For the past 10 years, Spark Ventures’ Zambian partner, Hope Community School has annually provided 350 students from Grade 1 to 7 with high-quality education. They have had a 98-100% graduation rate for the past 6 years.

This new partnership with Lincoln Park Preschool will allow Hope to launch a preschool for 5 year-olds, which will expand to younger children in the years to come. The hope is for these children to get a jump start on their education with this program, which will lead to significant overall success in their futures.



“The children served here come from homes where they are likely to have lost one or both parents, from families that survive on less than $2 per day,” said Spark Ventures’ CEO, Rich Johnson, of the project. “This preschool has the potential to put an incredible number of young Zambian students on a path for success that might otherwise be unattainable.”

Sharon Kozek, founder and owner of Lincoln Park Preschool would agree. Upon returning from the launch trip, she shared:

“We strive to be leaders in our community here in Chicago as well as our global community. We believe deeply that every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their potential and I am so invigorated by the incredible work we are doing together with Spark Ventures in Zambia.”

To learn more about Spark Ventures visit sparkventures.org.

[1] https://highscope.org/perrypreschoolstudy

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Stephanie Denzer is a nonprofit professional and a visual storyteller. She serves as Spark Ventures’ Marketing Manager and is passionate about innovative, sustainable poverty alleviation.

Follow Spark Ventures here: facebook.com/SparkVentures, twitter.com/SparkVentures, Instagram.com/sparkventures


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