About the SPARK Program

Since August of 2011, 240 women have completed the program with the skills needed to launch a small business. Over ninety businesses have been successfully launched thanks to our corporate and individual sponsors, facilitators, mentors, class coordinators, and especially SCORE and the North Central ISBDC (Indiana Small Business Development Center). 


To cultivate the entrepreneurial capacity of women with a combination of personal education, business training, and ongoing professional mentoring to sustainably advance beyond socio-economic boundaries and achieve self-sufficiency. 

You can make your dream a reality. The SPARK program is excited to offer an enhanced virtual program for the fall of 2020. All classes will be held online using Zoom. SPARK provides a blueprint for developing your business idea. Our program includes training in financial accounting and management, planning, marketing and other business skills that will give you the tools necessary to start or expand your own business. You will experience interactive activities which will help you develop your entrepreneurial mindset, identify new opportunities, understand and connect with your target customers. Best of all you will complete this intensive training program with other women business owners who will become part of your ongoing support system along with our mentors and subject-area experts.

What are the dates and length of the program?
  • SPARK is a 14-week course that meets virtually twice weekly using Zoom beginning on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 and ending with a graduation celebration on Thursday, December 10, 2020.

  • Choose Tuesday mornings 9am-noon or Tuesday evenings from 6pm-9pm. Both classes meet Thursday evenings from 6pm-8pm for a total of 5 hours of class time each week.
  • Homework assignments will require an additional 4-6 hours of work per week. 

Chose morning or evening class on Tuesdays

Both classes meet together 

Tuesday morning 9am-noon

Tuesday evening 6pm-9pm

Thursday evening 6pm-8pm

How do I apply?

Click here to fill out an online application. Applications are due no later than Thursday, August 13th at 5pm. 

After submitting your application, click here to pay the $25 application fee.

Cost and Important Dates
  • There is a $25 non-refundable application fee to apply.
  • Tuition is $325 (non-refundable) due upon acceptance into the program (installment plan available.) These fees are subject to change.

Important dates:

  • SPARK applications accepted Tuesday, August 4th – Thursday, August 13th at 5pm
  • Mandatory Interviews for all applicants (held online) on Tuesday, August 17th between 6-8:30pm.
  • Participants notified of acceptance Monday, August 24th by 5pm
  • Tuition payment due Monday, August 31st by noon
  • SPARK tech orientation Thursday, September 3rd at 9am-11am or 6pm-8pm
  • SPARK begins Tuesday, September September 8th 9am-noon or 6pm-9pm
  • SPARK graduation Thursday, December 10th 6pm-8pm
What do graduates say about SPARK?


  • I have wanted to be part of the Spark Program for years.  It was everything I wanted and needed and more.  —  Clara Ross, Bubbles the Clown

  • I really appreciated hearing from people who have lived through what I was/am going through as a business owner…This experience was so much more than I could have imagined.  I really appreciate that it’s designed for women and run by women. — Sasha Venis, Heavyweight Toys

  • I really appreciated having a place where I could take a longtime dream and see if it would be possible to turn into reality.  Life is busy, and I really needed this class to have time carved out in my schedule to focus on my dream.  Also, the women in the program are great. It has been great to witness all of the growth among us. — Jamila Thomas, Dancing Lotus Studio 
  • I have more questions now than when I started, but I have all the resources to figure out the answers! — Maricela Navarro, OxFox Carriers

  • My SPARK experience was amazing!!  I learned a lot of important things about starting a business, became more empowered, and made a lot of important connections!!  You did a fantastic job putting it all together to create a positive experience.  Thank you. Cindy Nikolai, Nikolai Consulting
  • Becoming like a family with the others in the cohort was wonderful.  The last day of class was bittersweet.  I enjoyed watching these beautiful ladies blossom and grow over the course of the class. — Marlyce Klopping-Davis, The Stork’s Nest

  • It was a great experience – I learned a lot, especially about myself, and where I am in my journey.  SPARK is the reason that I carved out 10 hours a week and dedicated them to working on my BP.  I met amazing people who are invaluable connections to building a successful business.  I faced my challenges-I completed the program through staffing issues in my business, grief/loss of a loved one, loss of 2 pets, and 3 respiratory viruses. I’m grateful for the opportunity to finish, and finish strong! — Jetta Cruse, Michiana Adaptive Performing Arts

  • Loved the course and will truly miss meeting twice a week with our group! — Monikah Mwose, Breathtaking Weddings and Events

I enjoyed the program a lot.  It’s so helpful to work on something knowing that there is a group of people ready and willing to help. — Angel Pierce, Smith Trail Machining, LLC

For more information contact:

Willow Wetherall

Director, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative

(574) 360-4337

Email: [email protected]

Support SPARK

Your summit registration allows us to continue offering business training, mentoring, and education for women. If you’d like to show additional support for the SPARK program, you can donate here.  

SPARK Grad Stories

Yully Ortega runs D&D, a professional cleaning service in South Bend, Indianapolis and in Texas, with more than 50 employees and serving hospitals, schools, and other businesses.

Paula Sours operates her own brand building business, helping clients connect to the right people in marketing and also providing promotional products throughout north central Indiana and southwest Michigan.

Kathy Burnette achieved her lifelong dream of opening a brick and mortar bookstore which has recently expanded into an e-commerce platform, not only shipping books but also providing online audiobooks.

Ramal Taylor runs a successful multi-location childcare business in South Bend, Bright Beginnings Childcare. Recently, she’s combined her experience in finance with her own success to offer business consulting.

Tiffany Cruz leads a team at ParmaJaco as a food service provider with a food truck and a recently opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Elkhart that goes by the same name.

2020 Engaging Women Virtual Summit Sponsors

South Bend Elkhart Regional Partnership Logo
Momentum Marketing Logo