SPARK Mississippi believes that stronger communities start with meaningful investment in our children. We seek to give vulnerable children the physical, educational, emotional, family and community support they need for success in school.


As many as one-third out of four million children in America start school behind — and some never catch up.

SPARK Mississippi, operated by the Children’s Defense Fund Southern Regional Office, supports partnerships to improve early learning for children ages 3 to 8.

SPARK seeks to work with and improve the systems that support young children; from family and community to schools and government; to see that they work together to set the foundation for academic success.

What Does SPARK Do?

Strong partnerships among families, providers, community organizations and schools ensure that children succeed in learning.

The SPARK Mississippi Model

SPARK Mississippi strengthens and aligns the systems that support early childhood education through close community networks and partnerships. SPARK targets every area of influence: family, school, early childhood learning providers and community. It is through this collaborative model that we make a positive impact for early education. SPARK arranges book distributions, home visits and individual assessments for children. We link families to education and health resources, including early screening of physical well-being, language skills and social and emotional development.

Our Strategies for Ready Kids, Ready Schools:

Individual Learning Plans

Through screening, SPARK identifies the challenges faced by individual children and works with them one-on-one, keeping parents and teachers informed and involved in all areas of progress.

Early Education/School Curriculum Alignment

SPARK makes sure that children can master standards between educational influences. We align learning strategies and curricula between early education providers and public schools. We strive to build a collaborative environment between educators and caretakers of the children, which includes opportunities for joint professional development among early childhood and public school teachers.

Support for Basic and Special Needs

SPARK identifies the individual needs not only of children, but of their families as well. We link families to much needed health and education resources.

Local Children’s Partnerships

SPARK organizes Local Children’s Partnerships (LCPs), which are made up of faith leaders, educators and individuals within the community who want to invest in children. LCPs provide local support and resources, and become advocates to support the SPARK collaborative model.

Learning Advocates

Learning Advocates work between SPARK parents and their child’s teacher. Often working within homes, Learning Advocates connect parents to schools. They identify children and parents for participation in SPARK, articulate local needs, leverage resources and conduct home visits.

Parent Education

SPARK believes that helping parents with their child’s education is vital to their academic success. Through parent workshops, organized parent-child activities, assessments and home visits, SPARK equips parents to teach their child at home.


The SPARK Toolkit (36 MB .PDF)

The SPARK Story (9 MB .PDF)