Spark’s education-focused community initiatives are encouraging New Zealand children to make the right choices about their learning, bridging the digital divide in low income communities and helping school leavers prepare to transition into the 21st century workforce.
Education is increasingly digital centric for both teachers and students. As classroom learning goes digital, students without broadband at home are at risk of being left behind.
After a successful pilot in FY16, this year Spark launched an expanded Spark Jump – which offers heavily subsidised broadband to families with school-aged children who cannot afford commercial broadband. Administered by Spark Foundation Spark Jump enables more school-aged children to go online outside of classroom hours and get on the right side of the digital divide.
At the end of FY18, Spark Jump had 1,049 families connected and is continuing to expand the programme around the country with the support of our 65 community partners in 82 locations. As these partners know their respective communities, they are well placed to determine which families have the most need and are therefore eligible for Spark Jump. Spark doesn’t determine Spark Jump eligibility.
Manaiakalani Education Trust
Spark Foundation has been a major funding partner of the Manaiakalani Education Trust to bring digital learning to low-income communities.
After a five-year partnership, the Foundation’s investment in the Manaiakalani Education Trust has come to a close.
The Foundation set out to help create the step-change required to scale up the education programme. With the success of Manaiakalani’s growth, we are proud to have been an anchor partner. Our involvement started when the Manaiakalani was a programme operating in a single site in Tamaki, Auckland. With the help of Spark’s resources, Manaiakalani has grown into a fully-formed methodology available to more than 50 schools across New Zealand.
The programme has helped to transform teaching and learning methods, significantly improving educational achievement for the students of participating schools.
During this time Spark people contributed strongly to the friendship with the Manaiakalani schools through activities such as mentoring teachers, becoming buddies to students and providing feedback on their blogs and volunteering at Manaiakalani schools. Over the five years the Spark Foundation’s contribution totalled almost $2.8 million. The Foundation remains proud of its involvement and continues to have a positive relationship with the Trust.
Mind Lab Kids
As a business, Spark’s ambition is to unleash the potential in all New Zealanders through amazing technology - and that starts with the youngest people. In FY17 Spark partnered with The Mind Lab by Unitec, to launch MindLabKids.com – a freeweb and mobile-based portal where children can access specially created and curated video content on science and technology. Aimed at children aged 5–12, MindLabKids.com is a free online portal where children can create their own tech and science projects at home, making tech education accessible throughout thecountry.
Spark wants to share its passion for technology with New Zealand children to help shape their thinking about the jobs of tomorrow. In FY17 Spark was a major financial supporter of OMG Tech!, a not-for-profit education initiative to open up the world of technology to young students and get them excited about studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Other education initiatives
Spark also supports a range of other education focused initiatives by partnering with national not-for-profits. These include:
- First Foundation, with Spark funding the university education of 4 talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds along with paid work experience during holidays and mentoring;
- NZTech, with women at Spark hosting high school students during a ShadowTech Day to encourage the next generation of women to pursue careers in technology;
- The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme, with Spark people being business mentors to high school students during the Entrepreneurs in Action business competition weekends; and
- Springboard Trust with Spark people providing mentoring to school principals.
Read more in Spark's FY18 Environment Social & Governance Report