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On this page you will find links to recent Spark press releases and TV, radio and online features.

May 2022

Volunteers from Spark Ventures participated in We Grow Chicago’s Unity Day, a neighborhood effort the Englewood organizers dubbed “the largest community clean-up in Chicago.”  WGN covered the story, and you can watch it here.

September 2019

Spark Ventures’ work was featured as the “Organization of the Month” in Community Auditors’ monthly newsletter. You can read their write up about our impact travel program here.

December 18, 2018

Scott Barbeau, Spark’s co-founder, was interviewed by Chicago’s morning news program “The Jam”. Scott shared his philanthropist background and Spark’s foundational story. He touched on how his life was changed by the impact Spark Ventures has had and the interview featured a touching message from just a few of the people Scott has touched around the world. Watch the interview here.

April 4, 2018

Shin Fujiyama is a CNN Hero and the Executive Director of Students Helping Honduras. He interviewed our co-founder Rich Johnson on his podcast. Rich shared background on why Spark Ventures was started and what has motivated our work from day one, plus some highlights of how how work has evolved over the past ten years. Listen to the Podcast here.

May 2, 2017

Our work was featured in a great, in-depth interview with our CEO, Rich Johnson in Rank & File Magazine, a publication focused on how businesses can create change. They dove deep into our innovative approach to Impact Travel and how these experiences can be a powerful source for good. Read the article here.

April 17, 2017

Spark Ventures’ Marketing Manager, Stephanie Denzer, authors an article for See Change, a social enterprise focused magazine, highlighting our partnership with Lincoln Park Preschool & Kindergarten to launch a new preschool program at Hope Community School in Zambia. Read the article here.

March 9, 2017

Spark Ventures’ partnership with Lincoln Park Preschool & Kindergarten was featured in Chicago Women Magazine. Read more about how together we have launched a new preschool program with our Zambian partner, Hope Community School.

October 1, 2016

Spark Ventures staff member, Stephanie Denzer, and her mother, Sue Bernstein, a repeat Impact Travel participant, co-authored a piece for Deer Creek Magazine’s “Making a Difference” section. View the feature here and a follow up piece on their Kansas City event here.

August 25, 2016

Young Professionals of Spark (YPS) leader, Jessica Dangles was featured in the DePaul University Alumni magazine for her work supporting Spark Ventures and traveling with us on an impact trip to Nicaragua. Read what she has gained from these experiences here (see page 3).

April 12, 2016

Spark Ventures’ CEO & Cofounder Rich Johnson talked impact travel and our business driven philanthropy model on Tastytrade’s Bootstrapping in America. He also discussed the founding of Spark Ventures and talked about traveling with Spark. Watch the full interview here.

January 28, 2016

Spark Ventures’ work in Nicaragua (as well as the history of our social impact partner, Las Tías) was featured in a Triple Pundit article titled “How These ‘Aunts’ Used Business to Raise a Generation of Nicaraguans.” Read the full article here.

November 16, 2015

Spark Ventures’ CEO & Cofounder, Rich Johnson, joined a panel event on “Meaningful Travel” hosted by the Jetting Around blog. Read the event recap here.

October 13, 2015

Spark Ventures’ CEO & Cofounder, Rich Johnson, gave a talk at the Chicago Ideas week event: “The Giving Solution: How Philanthropy Is Changing the World.” He was joined on stage by other leaders in philanthropy, including the President & CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, all sharing their perspectives on innovative funding practices and evolving charity models. Watch the video of Rich’s talk here.

October 10, 2015

Spark Ventures’ unique model and impact travel programming was featured on Chicago’s ABC7 News and on ABC7’s Ñ Beat. Watch the segment here.

September 7, 2015

Spark Ventures’ hiring of Tina Erickson as Vice President of Development was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business’s People on the Move section – shared online, in print, and via their email listerv. See the print feature here.

July 1, 2015

Spark Ventures Impact Travel opportunities were featured in the “Johnson County Lifestyle” magazine, highlighting travelers from the Kansas City metro area who have traveled to both Zambia and Nicaragua with Spark Ventures. Read the full article in their online version of the magazine.

November 9, 2014

Spark Ventures was featured on Fathom, a travel website that posts content on various topics such as volunteer travel, cultural immersion, and destination guides. Check out their photo blog feature on Spark’s work here. Fathom also named Spark’s partnership trips as one of the “24 Best Volunteer Opportunities!” Read here.

September 25, 2014

Spark Ventures Board Member Jeff Plaisted was interviewed on WBEZ’s Worldview, along with Elizabeth Newton and Sylvana Peneff who represented Allowance for Good, an organization Spark Ventures collaborated with on a recent youth-focused partnership trip. Listen here…

May 22, 2014

Stephanie Denzer, Spark’s Program Manager, talks with the Go Girl Travel Network as a part of their “What She Said: Words from Women Travelers” podcast series. Stephanie talks about what makes Spark’s model unique and how our partnership trips are more than just voluntourism. Listen here.

December 6, 2013

CEO, Rich Johnson & Spark Investor, Marquita Hanus were featured in Fox News Chicago’s special series “12 Days of Giving,” to feature Spark’s Holiday Investing program. Click here to see the video

November 6, 2013

Lucy Jodlowska, The Director of Partnerships for Spark Ventures, recruited students from her alma mater – The Monterey Institute of International Studies, to work on proposals for sustainable growth of Spark Venture’s partner – Las Tías, a non-profit dedicated to serving vulnerable children. Read more…

October 26, 2013

Spark Ventures was featured on Fathom – A travel and inspiration website. CEO Rich Johnson shares how he was motivated to found Spark, as well the sustainable practices that help children in Zambia and Nicaragua. Read the whole story here…

January 10, 2013

Spark Ventures Announces Four Life Changing Volunteer Vacations in 2013. Four international volunteer travel excursions to Nicaragua and Zambia are planned, including the inaugural trip to visit Spark’s newest partner in Nicaragua, Las Tías. Read the press release here…

December 3, 2012

Spark Ventures was featured in Joel Stein’s “Awesome Column” in the December 3 issue of Time Magazine! Check out the column online here(requires a Time Magazine subscription), or check out the PDF here: Read more…

September 6, 2012

Spark Ventures’ CEO, Rich Johnson, featured in Origin Magazine as one of 60+ Leaders of Change, building community and shifting the plannet for good. Read more…

April 24, 2012

The Chicago Sun Times highlights Spark’s Groupon for its Zambia Partnership Trips as ‘volun-tourism’. Read more…

April 23, 2012

Spark Ventures CEO Rich Johnson was featured on WBEZ’s Worldview. Listen here…

March, 2012

Spark was featured in Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine as one of several new Chicago-based nonprofit organizations doing great international work. Read more… 

January, 2012

Spark Ventures C.E.O., Rich Johnson, recently contributed to an article on Open Forum, a community of business owners created by American Express to help small businesses grow. Read the article…

June 16, 2011

A trip to Zambia proved so powerful for three Chicago friends, it changed their lives. And it’s still changing the lives of more than 350 Zambian children who now get food, medical care and an education with the help of a non-profit started by this trio of Chicago men.Read more…

May 12, 2011

Spark Ventures distributed the following Press Release in May of 2011 upon the launch of the poultry farm in Zambia. Download…

November 27, 2008

Three friends from Chicago worked together on one great idea. The men embarked on a journey to Africa two years ago, traveling to the city of Ndola in Zambia. What they saw inspired them to return and make a difference for the children living there. Read more…

April 5, 2010

Traveling the world and making a difference sounds appealing to most of us, but may seem financially out of reach. There are a myriad of “trips with a purpose” offered throughout the year…Many colleges and non-profit organizations offer transformational trips around the globe. Read more…

November 4, 2010

Rich Johnson is one of the co-founders of Spark Ventures. One summer night in 2006, Rich and two of his closest friends went out to a movie. Afterwards they had a conversation about life-changing moments. By the end of the evening, they decided to take a trip to Africa and do a volunteer project. Johnson tells Worldview’s Jerome McDonnell how he ended up in Zambia. Read more…

February 28, 2011

When we asked Joann Chen, Program Director, Spark Ventures, what she’d been up to lately, she mentioned something about some chickens and recent trip to Zambia. We said: Tell us more, please. In this entry, Joann describes Spark’s work with a community in Zambia, including the creation of a community-managed chicken farm. Read more…

November 21, 2008

What does ‘80s music have to do with children half a world away? Well, a lot for a keyboard player from a Chicago cover band called “16 Candles”. For Scott Barbeau, helping kids and making music are his two greatest passions. Those two worlds found harmony in an unexpected way during a trip he made to Zambia. Scott’s interview begins at 44:32 – listen here.