Welcome to SPARK!

SPARK stands for Senior Peers Actively Renewing Knowledge.  We are a lifelong learning organization that offers adult education classes and events for our members. As a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the University of Missouri- Kansas City, our mission is to provide life-long learning opportunities through intellectually stimulating cultural and social experiences which enhance the quality of life for SPARK members.

Who are we?

SPARK is a group of active retirees  with a passion for learning, meeting new people, sharing time and experiences and pursuing an active  stimulating lifer grades for classes. Our instructors bring a wide range of knowledge and experience as well as a passion for their topic.

SPARK is a non-profit organization serving those with a passion for learning, meeting new people, sharing new experiences and knowledge, and pursuing an active, stimulating life. Participating in SPARK provides an opportunity for active retirees to continue to learn and expand their interests through classes, book groups, and other activities offered throughout the year.

SPARK’s philosophy since 1994 has been to provide at a modest cost learning and social experiences for participants. There are no pre-requisites, test, or grades for the classes we offer.

Our History

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.


SPARK, as an affiliate of the University of Missouri, is supported by the intellectual, cultural, and administrative resources of the University.

Board of Directors

President: Jay Upright
Secretary: Linda Landes
Treasurer: Gil Nichols

Board Members:  Baila Goldstein, Joni Green, Jane Harrell, George Heiser, Bill Hirsch, Judy Kirk,  Virginia Lambright, Jan Parks, Barbara Stillman, Linda Wade, Bill Webb

Board meetings normally take place on the 3rd Friday of even-numbered months at 9:30am in the SPARK office. Members are always welcome to attend Board and Committee meetings. 2018 dates are:

  • June 15
  • August 17
  • December 7
  • February 16
  • April 20


Curriculum  Committee Chair: Judy Kirk
Events Committee Chair: Baila Goldstein
Marketing Committee Chair: Jan Parks
Membership Committee Chair: Linda Wade

Publications: Patty Fuller, Jodi Upright