SPARK Business Accelerator

Since August of 2011, 260 women have completed the program with 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.

Course Information

You can make your dream a reality. SPARK provides intensive business training and personal development inside a supportive cohort model. The 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, and 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.


Will SPARK classes be held in person or virtually?
The SPARK program is excited to offer an enhanced virtual program for the fall of 2021. All classes will be
held online using Zoom. 

What are the dates and length of the program? 
SPARK is a 13-week course that meets virtually twice weekly beginning on Tuesday, August 24th, 2021 and
ending with a graduation celebration on Tuesday, November 23, 2021. 
Class meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6pm-9pm. Homework assignments will require an
additional 4-6 hours of work per week.

How do I apply? 
Click here to fill out an online application. Applications are due no later than Wednesday, June 30th at 6pm. 
After submitting your application, click here to pay the $25 application fee. The application fee is non-

What happens after I apply?
Please mark your calendar for a mandatory SPARK Interview Night on Tuesday, July 6th 6pm-8:30pm. You
will meet virtually with two mentors to share your business idea. You will be notified by Monday, July 12th if
you have secured a spot in the program. (More important dates below.)

How much does SPARK cost? 
The full value of the SPARK program is $3,000. Thanks to the generosity of our philanthropic partners we are
able to offer every incoming participant a $2,350 scholarship and an additional $300 scholarship for anyone in
the greater South Bend-Elkhart area needing financial assistance. Tuition is non-refundable and due upon
acceptance. These fees are subject to change.
$650 with standard scholarship available to all participants
$350 with standard + needs-based scholarship for South Bend-Elkhart area entrepreneurs

What else should I keep in mind?
Important dates:

  • SPARK applications accepted Tuesday, June 1st - Wednesday, June 30th at 6pm
  • Mandatory interview night (online) Tuesday, July 6th 6pm-8:30pm
  • Participants notified of acceptance Monday, July 12th by 6pm
  • Tuition payment due no later than Friday, August 13th by 6pm
  • SPARK tech orientation Tuesday, August 17th 6pm-9pm
  • SPARK begins Tuesday, August 24th 6pm-9pm
  • SPARK graduation Tuesday, November 23rd 6pm-8pm

What do graduates say about SPARK?

Click here to watch video testimonials of some of our graduates. 

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

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