"Becoming is better than being." -Carol Dweck


SPARC is empowering the next generation of young leaders, especially those from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds, to catalyze and achieve their dreams through project-based learning and mentorship.

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Our Story


After graduating from UC Berkeley and working at Apple, Tai Tran and Jessie Salas started SPARC to mentor and give back to the very community that supported and nurtured their personal and professional growth. As first generation and low-income graduates, they experienced first hand the challenges that students from disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds face when entering college and the workforce, especially in STEM.


Our Programming


SPARC’s programming spans from standalone Learn & Meet events covering relevant personal innovation ideas to our thoughtfully designed three-month long SPARC Leadership Series. Our programming is geared toward high school students, college students, and young professionals at all stages in their career, especially those from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds.


Learn & Meet

Join us, and learn from industry experts and network with other professionals. Our meetups explore relevant ideas on personal innovation, leadership development, and specific domain topics. These meetups are geared toward college students and young professionals at all stages in their career. You can suggest a topic or nominate a facilitator here.

Register


We’ll let you know when an upcoming event is happening near you. Our next Learn & Meet will cover Designing Your Authentic Personal Brand.

SPARC Leadership Series

Our annual SPARC Leadership Series is an all expenses paid program designed to bring together high school students from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds for a transformative day of growth and giving. After the summit, SPARC Scholars join a three-month long bootcamp cohort to help them catalyze their personal and professional goals.

Apply


Our 2019 application cycle is now closed. Register here to receive up to date information on our 2020 application cycle.

Supporting & Partnering With SPARC


Students and young professionals from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds often lack access to participate in personal and professional development opportunities due to financial barriers. This is why SPARC strives to keep our programming low to free of cost for attendees. In fact, our SPARC Leadership Series is a completely all expenses paid program. SPARC brings our entire lineup of workshops and speakers directly to our students’ community to mitigate all financial and transportation hardships

As a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, SPARC is completely run by volunteers. Your partnership and financial support will enable us to expand our programming and keep our summit accessible to our students and attendees for years to come. All donations are tax deductible. SPARC’s EIN: 83-1242219.

Become A Partner

Our Team


SPARC is run by these passionate and giving individuals. If you are interested in joining our team, we’d love to hear from you!

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Tai Tran

Executive Director

Tai Tran

Tai is an experienced marketing and product leader who previously led content and social at beloved brands like Apple and Samsung. He is passionate about storytelling, teaching, and giving back. Tai is an alum of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and LinkedIn Top Voice lists. Today, Tai is followed by over 300,000 young professionals and executives. Growing up in a low-income and first generation family, he understands first hand the challenges that his community face. Tai started SPARC to bridge today’s widening social mobility gap that his community faces.

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Jessie Salas

Executive Director

Jessie Salas

Combing his passions for data science and design, Jessie is an experienced researcher and applied machine learning software engineer. Jessie’s work has been recognized and published in the inaugural edition of UC Berkeley’s Arts & Design Book, as well as IEEE scientific journal. Jessie has co-taught cognitive science & data science, and improvisational music at UC Berkeley. At Apple, Jessie is innovating how applied machine learning and design can work together to produce elegant and meaningful products.

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Sonia Sng

Board of Directors

Sonia Sng

Recognized by Financial Times in 2016, 2017 and 2018 as one of the Top 100 Ethnic Minority leaders in the US and UK, Sonia is an experienced leader with international, payments and risk experience. Throughout her career, Sonia has championed a host of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives to counter potential biases and was also the co-chair for Visa Women’s Network in 2017-2018. She joined SPARC as she is passionate about elevating others and reminding them that they are worthy.

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Florence Kwok

Director of Events & Operations

Florence Kwok

Florence is an experienced senior marketer and program manager. She worked at Intuit, NetApp and App Annie, managing UX, research, design, creative and global brand marketing programs and initiatives. Florence is a UC Berkeley alum, advocator for diversity and women in the workplace and the founder and CEO of Airbook, a personal assistant for event organizers. Florence joined SPARC to give back to the ecosystem, and to inspire, and serve our youth community with the proper tools and resources they need to succeed.

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Kevin Pang

Director of Finance

Kevin Pang

Kevin is a recent graduate from UC Berkeley and is now a financial analyst at Symantec. Kevin is passionate about FinTech and big data. As a low-income first-generation college student, Kevin also faced a variety of obstacles in high school. Fortunately, Kevin had received help to achieve growth in academic and social skills through mentorship from local non-profits. In a like manner, SPARC will focus on immersing students with role models such as current college students and professionals who share a similar background.

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Min Kim

Visual Designer

Min Kim

Min, an undergraduate studying computer science at UC Berkeley, is fascinated by design of all types. With design, she’s been able to combine her love for the visually appealing with her interests in technology by creating websites, which merges graphic design with web development, and working on a personal game, which involves both illustration and coding. She wishes to continue exploring the combination of aesthetics and computer science and help her local community by letting others know that they if they love both art and STEM, they do not have to choose between the two.

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Leilanie Martinez

Program Manager, Communications

Leilanie Martinez

Leilanie Martinez, of Los Angeles, California, is a graduating senior from the University of California, Berkeley majoring in legal studies and Chicanx studies. She is a self-described feminista who helps to empower women of color through her work as a senior resident assistant, Girl Scout co-troop leader, and researcher. This past summer Leilanie was awarded the Montgomery Research Diversity Fellowship, which has cemented her aspiration to pursue a joint J.D. and Ph.D. in sociology of law. She is currently working on the American Bar Foundation’s The Future of Latino Project in the United States. Leilanie is a product of a low-income community and she is overjoyed to provide more resources to under resourced communities through the SPARC Initiative.

Get In Touch With SPARC!


Whether you’re interested in becoming a partner, join our team, or have questions about our program, we’re here for you!

SPARC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of young leaders, especially those from underprivileged and underrepresented backgrounds, to catalyze and achieve their dreams through project based learning and mentorship. All donations are tax deductible. EIN: 83-1242219