What is spark*5?

Spark*5 is a systems change or a new way of doing business. It’s not a new program or a new agency. It is a two generational approach to breaking the poverty cycle, ensuring kids are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and their parents have tools to become financially stable. 


A prevention-based, community-developed initiative between first-time parents living in the 52404 zip code and more than 10 community nonprofits, spark*5 focuses on transforming the first 2,000 days of children in poverty. The initiative will specifically support low-income parents with babies in the 52404 zip code which includes some of the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Is spark*5 a new agency or program?

No, it is an initiative that improves the system for families, and an opportunity to work together to create clear, connected, and responsive networks across our systems of care. We will see an increase in positive and impactful collaborations due to a shared technology platform that tracks services, goals, and child and parent progress.

What does spark*5 do?

For the first five years of a child’s life (prenatal to kindergarten), the spark*5 Connector walks side by side with parents on their journey to become a strong Family Leader. Children become ready kindergarteners and lifelong Learners. Connectors engage families as an advocate and coach to guide them to community resources and services that meet their goals and needs.



  • Improve the system for vulnerable families and break the cycle of poverty.

  • Enhance collaborations to create a coordinated community response.

  • Ensure children meet developmental milestones and are kindergarten ready.

  • Support families to be self-sufficient, successful, and able to fully engage in their child’s development.


  • Collaboration: We will identify and connect organizations to better serve Cedar Rapids neighborhoods in zip code 52404.

  • Compassion: We will bring understanding and respect regardless of circumstances.

  • Growth: We will work with parents to build parenting skills, increase financial stability, and better prepare children for kindergarten.

Why are we taking this on now?

Neighborhoods in 52404 are not improving. It is time to address our complex community needs to help children succeed.


In 52404 neighborhoods:

  • Less than half of children at one 52404 school were ready to start kindergarten.

  • The unemployment rate is 9–12%, more than double Linn County’s rate.

  • More than 50% of families are not financially stable.

  • 40–60% of children live only with their mother.


Many local agencies work to reduce the number of children living in poverty and struggling in school; yet, statistics show the challenge is growing. Pilot projects in other communities prove the answer lies in coordinated networks that address multigenerational issues.


This initiative could be the start of a transformative process to turn these numbers around. Every day we wait, another child falls behind. Now is the time to change the future.

© 2017 spark*5

All rights reserved.

317 7th Ave SE, Suite 401, Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

319-398-5372   |   info@spark5.org

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