FAQ

The answers to most questions can be found in our SPARK Student Application Guide

Have a question you don't see? Ask our staff and read other students' questions here:  https://app.sli.do/event/zm0abbyz

What am I required to do in order to participation in SPARK?

All participants are asked to develop a project with a community organization/non-governmental organization in their hometown. Participants will spend 80 hours working with thier host organization and 20 hours on SPARK programming. Participants will also participate in an online discussion series, attend online webinars with Harvard faculty and and staff, and attend a dinner in the fall with senior leaders at Harvard College.

What kind of projects will qualify for this program? 

SPARK projects should be community-based and solution-focused. Partner organizations should be community-based. All community organizations involved must comply with Harvard anti-discrimination policies.

When designing a project, think about the following questions: What are the issues that you have noticed in your community that need to be addressed? What are the issues that can be reasonably adressed in six weeks? 

Examples of solution-focused projects:

  • Creating a better logistical system for food delivery at your local food pantry
  • Providing a direct service that meets a community need
  • Developing a technical solution that serves as a community resource
  • Building and implementing a better marketing or fundraising plan for the local nonprofit 

Please review the SPARK Application Guide for help developing your project.

Can I view the application before I submit it?

Yes! The application is all one page, so you can open the application to view every question without submitting it.

Click here to view the application questions before you apply.

How specific should I be in my application? 

We look for issue, plan, and impact specificity. Your application should clearly convey the issue you have identified and are trying to solve. For example, you have noticed that the after-school program at which you volunteer has lesson plans that could benefit from incorporating cutting-edge learning and teaching science into it. You should explain in detail why that is an issue worth solving. Next, you should describe your plan for solving this issue in detail. Lastly, describe why you find yourself in a position to solve this issue and how impactful such solutions would be to the community.

What are you looking for in terms of impact? 

We look for a project or role whose outcomes have the potential to positively influence your community. Such outcomes need to be clearly stated. They should also be realistic, given the time constraint you’ll be under. 

Once selected, will I do my service project on my own? Will there be anyone helping me accomplish my goals? 

You will not be expected to work on your own. As part of your application process, you will be asked to identify a community leader within your organization to help guide your project and supervise your internship. You will be primarily accountable to your supervisor at the community organization. You will have support from staff, faculty, as well as other SPARK fellows through an online community that will launch on July 5th. While we will provide support, we expect that you take initiative, leadership, and ownership over your project. 

Will I be able to communicate with the other Harvard College Service Fellows? 

Yes. In fact, you are expected to communicate with your fellow SPARK cohort members. We are creating an online community through which you will be able to share and reflect on your service experiences.

How many hours of service am I expected to contribute during the internship/program?

You are expected to contribute 80 hours of service between July 5th and August 13th. Your partner organization will be asked to verify your hours. You will spend an additional 20 hours on SPARK programming.  

Who should I contact if I have questions about the program?

All questions should be addressed to alyshajohnson@fas.harvard.edu.

Can my project be in-person?

Yes, SPARK projects may be in-person or remote/hybrid format. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is ever-changing, so different locations and organziations may have different needs.

Although projects may be completed remotely, we encourage those considering remote projects to select organizations and projects to which they have personal/hometown connections. 

Can I participate in SPARK and a preorientation program if they overlap in timing for Summer 2022?

Yes! We encourage SPARK participants to apply for preorientation programs. Students interested in SPARK also may be interested in the First Year Urban Program (FUP), a student-led preorientation program, offered through the Dean of Students Office, that introduces incoming first-years to the Boston-Cambridge area and the service community in and around Harvard. If you find that your pre-orientation program dates overlap your final days of SPARK, we can work with you to fit SPARK and preorientation into your schedule.