In East Central Iowa, there are hundreds—perhaps thousands—of young parents battling the reality of generational poverty. They are willing to work for their child’s success but needing help to do so.
Today, for these parents and kids, there is hope.
We have the solution: the spark*5 initiative (strong parents and ready kids by age five).
Spark*5 is a deeply researched, community-developed initiative based on a successful model, Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) in Minneapolis Minnesota (link their website). This model demonstrates reduced disparities and inequities in their place-based focus area. United Way of East Central Iowa's experience in bringing resources and partner organizations together to create change, led to an initial meeting in late spring 2017 of concerned partners. Two committees, spark*5 Advisory Committee and spark*5 Steering Committee, formed to oversee the implementation of this work.
Spark*5 is a system change, a new way of doing business. It’s not a new program or a new agency, and it does not duplicate services. It is an approach to breaking the poverty cycle that spans multiple generations, ensuring kids are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and their parents have tools to become financially stable and successful.
As a prevention-based initiative, based in the 52404 zip code, spark*5 engages first-time expectant parents living in poverty, connects them with available services, and then walks with them through their child’s vital years from birth to age five. This will result in children prepared to enter school and succeed, and parents better equipped for life and parenting.
Spark*5 will brighten children’s potential futures who otherwise may face many challenges. Together, we will break the multigenerational cycle of poverty affecting those in our community.