$75,000 grant connects 300 LA students with mentors at top workplaces

Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and Focusing Philanthropy Invest $75,000 in Spark Los Angeles

Grant connects students from underserved communities with mentors at top workplaces

The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation announced a grant of $50,000 to strengthen its strategic partnership with Spark Los Angeles.  The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation’s investment unlocked a $25,000 matching grant from Focusing Philanthropy, who partners with nonprofits to enhance fundraising and increase impact. Together, their grants will fuel Spark’s mission to inspire 7th, 8th, and 9th graders from underserved communities to succeed in high school and beyond by engaging them with mentors and future careers.

“The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is thrilled to enter the third year of our partnership with Spark, multiplying our support for this important program that targets a critical stage in adolescent development,” said Nichol Whiteman, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. “Within our strategic pillar of Education and Literacy, we share Spark’s focus on middle school engagement, stepping in early to provide students with the resources and support they need to thrive in high school, college, and ultimately their careers.”

As Spark LA’s leading transportation funder, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation helps 300 students visit their mentors at workplaces throughout the LA area every week. Designed specifically for the middle grades, Spark engages students with a powerful combination of mentoring, hands-on learning, and a tailored in-school curriculum. Students complete a capstone project at their mentor workplaces each semester — like developing a videogame with a software engineer — while cultivating key professional and life skills, from problem solving to public speaking.

By the end of the year-long program, 91% of students improve their grades, attendance, or classroom engagement. Further down their educational paths, 92% of Spark alumni have graduated on time or are on track to do so, compared to only 68% of their peers. After launching in LA in 2010 with an initial cohort of 13 students, Spark has grown to provide mentorships for 300 students per year across five LA schools.

In addition to helping Spark pilot and refine a new student transportation model, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation also played a central role in transforming the organization’s annual Discovery Night project fair. Together, they hosted Spark’s first region-wide Discovery Night at Dodger Stadium in December 2014, with more than 1,000 attendees and 261 projects on display. In May 2017, Spark will hold its third consecutive Discovery Night at Dodger Stadium.

“Spark is honored to renew our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation with this unprecedented level of funding, plus a generous match from Focusing Philanthropy” said Yoon S. Choi, Ph.D., Spark’s Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President of California Regions.

“The charter buses supported by this grant are integral to Spark’s model. By transporting students from their schools to workplaces throughout LA, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is helping bridge the gaps between classroom and career, and between underserved neighborhoods and thriving businesses across town. Focusing Philanthropy’s match will further enrich our program, helping us expand and sustain our impact for more LA students in 2017 and beyond.”

About the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation
The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation is the official team charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Its primary focus is to strengthen and support cornerstone programs in Sports + Recreation, Education + Literacy and Health + Wellness benefitting children and families in need throughout the greater Los Angeles region. By leveraging strategic partnerships, the mission is to harness the power of the Dodger brand and the passion our fans have for Los Angeles into a vehicle for positive change in underserved communities.

About Focusing Philanthropy
Focusing Philanthropy identifies, evaluates, and promotes giving opportunities that improve the life-trajectory of people living with great unmet needs here and around the world. Through a rigorous diligence and monitoring process, they select and partner with nonprofits that consistently deliver demonstrable improvements in the health, education, and economic circumstances of the beneficiaries. They work closely with each nonprofit to curate specific opportunities, then raise funds from donors to implement them. These services are provided free to both donors and their nonprofit partners in an effort to scale interventions that work. You can support their work by visiting their website to donate at: focusingphilanthropy.org.


Spark inspires 7th, 8th and 9th grade students to succeed in high school and beyond by connecting them with mentors in leading workplaces and supporting their academic journey with skill-building and resources. By engaging working professionals and connecting businesses with local communities, Spark empowers the next generation to perform better in school, graduate on time and lead fulfilling careers and lives.

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