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About Spark Workshops:

Spark Workshops provide social innovators with an opportunity to explore resources, connections, and potential solutions to help their social ventures. These workshops tap into the collective knowledge within Columbia University and the larger entrepreneurial and social impact community.

Spark is a platform for ventures to make valuable connections, as the audience is a self-selected group interested in the topic area. Ventures are also able to gather diverse ideas through group brainstorming to help them address specific questions or problems within the business or organization.

These workshops are free and open to the public. Participants can expect to bring their ideas, experience, and connections to help solve social and environmental challenges that social innovators aim to address.

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Host a Workshop:

Interested in hosting a Spark Workshop? Fill out the application form and send it to [email protected].

Application form

History of the Spark Workshops:

The inaugural Spark Workshop was held on April 24, 2012 with Manmeet Kaur ’02, and her venture, City Health Works. City Health Works is a prevention-focused healthcare venture in Harlem. Manmeet had her classmates gather together to listen to a brief presentation about City Health Works, and then she had the group engage in an interactive break-out session dedicated to helping her work through some of the challenges she had been facing.  The session was helpful not only to Manmeet, but to others in attendance as they were able to make connections with fellow social innovators. From this, the Spark Workshop series has evolved to an event dedicated to providing New York City's social innovators with the opportunity to explore resources, make connections and learn about potential solutions to challenges they are facing through the collective knowledge of Columbia University and the larger entrepreneurial and social impact communities.

Past Spark Workshops:


October 16 - BlackOakTV: Building Advocacy Through Entertainment
with Uzo Ometu ’13BUS ’06CC

August 14 - Local Civics: Reimagining Civic Engagement and education for America’s Youth
facilitated by Beverly Leon ’20BUS ’14CC and Caitlin Gallagher ’20BUS

February 25 - Vngle: Grassroots News for Transparency
facilitated by Blake Stoner


November 6 - Zea10: Disrupting Hunger
facilitated by Ian Mackay and Karl Greden 

April 23 - Root Impact: Building an Impact Ecosystem for Underserved Neighborhoods
facilitated by Kyungsun Chung ’19BUS

February 12 - Retouch Haiti: Creating Sustainable Employment by Building Links Between Haiti and Global Markets
facilitated by Camille Park ’19BUS and Alex Polinis 



November 15 – What is the Best Way to Find Non-prescription Remedies for Patients and Caregivers?
facilitated by Ashley Lim ’12CC, Founder and CEO, CuraHub

September 27 – Firms with Benefits: How Sustainability is Reshaping the Competitive Business Landscape
with Aziza Jamgerchinova ’13BUS ’06JRN

February 1 – Hacking Community Solar with Social Solar
with Donna Sanders ’17BUS, co-founder of Social Solar; and special guest speakers Gary Skulnik, founding partner of OurPower; Annie Su, senior analyst of Ecogy Solar; and Yanik Kalish’12BUS, CEO of SolarKal


November 15 – Disrupting Distrust With Rise
with Alphonzo Terrell ’05CC, co-founder of Rise; and special guest speaker Robert Gangi ’05CC, director of the Police Reform Organizing Project

April 5 – Killer Snails
with Mandë Holford PhD, Lindsay Portnoy PhD, and Jessica Ochoa Hendrix ’09BUS


December 1 – Due Diligence Goes Both Ways
with Christine Mendonça, managing director, Shore to Shore Advisory


December 1 – Project Gado
with Tom and Amy Smith, co-founders, Project Gado

November 18 – e-NABLE

June 17 – Terraly, Inc.
with Seth Harlem ’15BUS, co-founder and CEO, Terraly, Inc; and Mo Mobarak, co-founder and CTO, Terraly, Inc.

May 10 – Education Technology: Can Education Technology Close the Achievement Gap?
with Ryan Betts, teacher, Darien Public School District; Stanley Buchesky '02BUS, managing partner, The EdTech Fund; Daniel Konecky, director of Online Development, Relay Graduate School of Education; Alia McCants '13BUS, director of operations, New York City, Relay Graduate School of Education; Terrence Robinson, teacher, CASA Middle School, Bronx, NY; and Kevan Ottochian, teacher, Warwick Valley Central School District

April 1 – Drive Change
with Jordyn Lexton, founder and executive director, Drive Change; Roy Waterman, culinary arts mentor, Drive Change; and TJ, marketing director, Drive Change

February 4 – Funding Sustainable Health Programs in Urban Slums With Health For All
with Dianne Heiler, Ame Igharo, Krystal Lin, Danielle Sack, Christina Wong, Columbia University 2013-2014 Hult Prize Team


December 3 – Inspiring Capital
with Nell Derick Debevoise ’12BUS, founder and CEO, Inspiring Capital; Yael Silverstein ’13BUS, director of products and marketing, Inspiring Capital

November 12 – Kangu
with the 2013 winner of Social Venture Pitch Competition at the Social Enterprise Conference Casey Santiago ’07BUS, founder, Kangu; and co-facilitator Anu Khosla, marketing and community director, Kangu

August 6 – Ed Tech
with Damon Kornhauser, INCITE Creatives; Andrea Coleman, Office of Innovation at the New York City Department of Education; Esteban Rodriguez, education, entrepreneurship; Zak Malamed, Student Voice Live; Holly Pavlika, MOMentum Nation; and Stanley Buchesky '02BUS, The EdTech Fund

July 23 – Defy Ventures
with Catherine Hoke (Rohr)

July 9 – International Social Entrepreneurship Workshop
with Selen Ucak '03BUS, The American Turkish Society; Nell Derick Debevoise '12BUS, Inspiring Capital; Tami Kesselman, Vision2Action / IvyGirl Advisors; Shireen Khan '02BUS, Virtue Consulting, Shubio; and Decker Ngongang, Echoing Green

June 25 – Patronicity
with Chris Blauvelt, moderated by Rachel Jacobs ’02BUS, Inzenka

June 11 – Social Sushi
with Jay Rayford, moderated by Rachel Jacobs ’02BUS, Inzenka

May 28 – De-Tread
with Audra Carson, moderated by Rachel Jacobs ’02BUS, Inzenka

April 23 – Building the Ecosystem for Social Ventures
with Elisa Miller-Out, Singlebrook; Vince Ponzo ’03BUS, General Assembly; Owen Davis ’08BUS, NYC Seed; and Professor R. A. Farrokhnia '04BUS, Columbia Business School

April 17 – Global Mental Health at Columbia University
with Professor Kathy Pike, Columbia University

April 2 – BlocPower
with Donnel Baird ’13BUS, CEO, BlocPower