Boettcher Scholars Making a Difference through the Mission Spark Fellows Social Impact Program

Boettcher Scholars Making a Difference through the Mission Spark Fellows Social Impact Program

Mission Spark, a social impact consulting firm founded by 1994 Boettcher Scholar Kara Penn, continues a close relationship to Boettcher Scholars by selecting Scholars and other high performing undergraduate and graduate students, or recent graduates, interested in social impact careers to serve as Mission Spark Fellows.

Each year, Mission Spark offers paid fellowships to dynamic and social impact-minded individuals. Fellows receive mentorship on career and educational pathways from Mission Spark consultants, as well as six sessions of professional and personal development coaching by a CTI-trained coach through the Boettcher Coaching Program. In addition, Fellows work independently on high impact projects, with guidance from Mission Spark consultants and clients.

Current Mission Spark Fellow and 2019 Boettcher Scholar, Anila Narayana, is a sophomore at the University of Colorado Boulder studying Integrative Physiology, Geography, and Public Health. She is interested in helping close gaps in healthcare access for marginalized communities. Anila shares, “Working at Mission Spark has been an irreplaceable experience for me. Being a Fellow has given me the opportunity to work on projects important to me and specific to my interests in health and equity. Specifically, I have been helping draft data products based on the Health eMoms survey conducted by CDPHE, highlighting inequities in paid family leave in Colorado. I’ve also been able to work with Her Future Coalition, an NGO empowering survivors of human trafficking, to create business plans for a social enterprise recycling center in Kolkata, India, and to revamp their impact tourism programming.

Contributing to these areas has taught me how to create a data-driven story and improved my research skills, while also helping me explore how I can better incorporate activism into my future career. In addition, the coaching experience provided by Mission Spark has prompted me to more intentionally examine my goals for the future, growing my sense of self in the process. I am incredibly grateful to be part of a network that connects me to such meaningful opportunities and values my development, both professionally and personally.”

2016 Mission Spark Fellow and 2013 Boettcher Scholar Alumna, Scarlett Jimenez, now serves as the Development Director for Alliance for Youth Action. She shares that “As a fellow at Mission Spark in 2016, I had the opportunity to support the robust re-visioning process for the Denver Public School’s teacher performance pay incentive program, ProComp. This process brought together stakeholders including the District and Denver Classroom’s Teacher Association (DCTA) to review national research related to teacher incentives and tackle the unique challenges and opportunities within the Denver Public School district. At the time of my fellowship, I was a rising Senior at the University of Denver and saw a clear connection from this work to my public policy studies, so I pursued turning this experience into an independent study. Working alongside Professor Robert Fusfeld, I dove into the world of theory and research surrounding teacher performance to both inform my time at Mission Spark and jumpstart a career in social impact work. As an almost lifelong community organizer and political science/public policy major, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in social justice.

My time with Mission Spark broadened my perspective of what a career in public service and social impact could look like and cemented my commitment to this work. After graduating, I took a role with the Alliance for Youth Action in Washington, DC. Today, I serve as the Alliance’s Development Director, leading our efforts to partner with philanthropy and individual donors to build young people’s political power. We are a network of locally-rooted grassroots organizations across the country (including a fantastic Colorado affiliate!). I continue to be grateful for my experience with Mission Spark and the opportunity to work closely with public stakeholders and explore emerging approaches for creating a more just and equitable system for young people.”

The Mission Spark Fellowship represents a unique and informal collaboration between an organization run by a Scholar Alum and the Boettcher Scholar Program, by creating mentorship and career opportunities for current or recently graduated Scholars. For more information or to become involved by contributing a project for Fellows to tackle or to be considered as a Fellow in the future, please reach out to Kara Penn at

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