Marc Sparks’s Start-up Philanthropy


Posted by omeditors | Posted in Kids foundation, McKinney | Posted on 19-07-2016

Marc Sparks loves ideas. As a serial entrepreneur and the owner of Timber Creek Capital, his purpose has been to take ideas—inventive, creative, good ideas—and transfer them from theory to profitable reality in the private sector for over forty years.

His career is defined by a belief in the power of original thinking and savvy, relentless execution. However, there is no reason why such entrepreneurial spirit and innovative chutzpah should be confined to for-profit enterprises.

Rather, Marc Sparks believes that the same type of thinking that makes commercially successful businesses can also produce valuable non-profit efforts that powerfully influence society.

This belief, combined with the humanitarianism of Sparks and his friend and co-founder Lynne Sipiora, is the inspiration for Spark Tank. Spark Tank is a challenge for “social entrepreneurs”—non-profit leaders with original ideas to impact lives for the better through their organizations.

The challenge is similar to the TV show Shark Tank, on which entrepreneurs try to persuade a panel of venture capitalists that their ideas are worth investing in; the difference is that while the sharks want ideas that will profit them, Sparks wants ideas that will profit his community. Therefore, contestants that want to enter the Spark Tank are expected to answer to the following question: “What could you do with $5000 that would impact lives?” Each contestant submits a written application, and the best three responses are selected as finalists.

Then, each finalist must give a 20-minute presentation in person to the Spark Tank panel defending the purpose, importance, and viability of their project. After all three have presented, the panel judges each program and selects a winner. The winning program then receives three things: a trophy, a $5000 check, and a responsibility to make good on the proposal they presented. Learn more about Marc Sparks:

Having convinced Marc Sparks, Sipiora, and the other panelists of what they could do with the money in theory, they are given the money and expected to do it in reality.

Spark Tank is not Sparks’s first foray into philanthropy. He has been heavily involved with The Samaritan Inn, a homeless shelter and rehabilitation program in McKinney, Texas, since the eighties; it was through this program that he met Sipiora.

Moreover, his Sparky’s Kids foundation has provided modern computer equipment and training to over 1000 at-risk kids in the Dallas-Fort Worth area since the early 2000s.

However, Spark Tank is unique among these enterprises. By providing an avenue to realize the ideas of other brilliant minds, it brings the power of the entrepreneurial “spark” to bear on the problems of the city and the world, giving it potential that is as broad as it is profound.