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About Us

Our History

SPARK is an Adult Continuing Education Program intended for senior citizens 55 and older. We were founded in 1993. SPARK offers classes in Western Civilization, classes about Kansas City, music, and computer classes.

SPARK was organized and began in the summer of 1993 and was located on the campus of Penn Valley Community College. Over the next four years Penn Valley continued to grow and eventually needed additional space. SPARK began looking for options for the organization. In the spring of 1997 UMKC became the unanimous choice. There were obvious benefits to both parties. UMKC would have a thriving Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) on campus and SPARK would have a collegiate environment and the intellectual and cultural resources of the university.

Did you know that membership in SPARK means you:

  • Keep Active
  • Meet Interesting People
  • Stay Current
  • Have Fun
  • Expand Your Horizons
  • Take Exciting Courses
  • Explore New Skills
  • Exchange Ideas
  • Make Connections

Membership in your LLI gives you affiliation with Elderhostel (EIN) the Nation’s largest and most prestigious educational network for older adults. The Lifelong Learning Institute movement across North America and Canada has more than 350 LLIs just like SPARK. Each is committed to excellence in providing lifelong learning opportunities for older adults. The philosophy behind Elderhostel and the Lifelong Learning Institute program is to provide, at a modest cost, academic experiences for all participants.

These experiences are available to everyone over 55 years of age with no regard to previous educational background. SPARK instructors are usually members who have a strong interest in a specific topic, or have had experience in a particular area. They are willing to volunteer their time and energies to sharing that information with our members. The courses are non-credit and offer the students a relaxed atmosphere with no exams or grades.

Our Leadership

President: Jay Upright
Secretary: Linda Landes
Treasurer: Jay Upright
Humanities Chair: Judy Kirk
Events Committee Chair: Baila Goldstein
Marketing Committee Chair: Jan Parks
Membership Committee Chair: Linda Wade

Board Members: Wanda Adkins, Joni Green, George Heiser, Linda Landes,
Symie Menitove, Barbara Stillman, Linda Wade, Jane Harrell, Jay Upright,
Gil Nichols, Virginia Lambright, Baila Goldstein, Bill Hirsch, Judy Kirk

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