We are a passionate, innovative and collaborative team focused on celebrating students and promoting possibility.
Caroline Kim Palacios is a native Angelena and social change sector disruptor committed to promoting agency, equity, and opportunity for all. As a career nonprofit professional, she has successfully led fundraising and program transformations for several L.A.-based organizations. Caroline brings a track record of securing major funding and strategic partnerships for programs that advance juvenile justice reform, healthcare and education access, and immigrant rights campaigns. During her time at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles (BBBSLA), she led the creation of the College PAC (Preparation, Access, Completion) program, which expanded the agency’s mentoring model to help first generation college students achieve degree attainment. She also helped build signature programs to improve health outcomes among girls of color, advance policies to support the success of boys and young men of color, and connect youth to workplace mentoring opportunities. Caroline received her Master of Public Administration and Certificate of Public Policy degrees from USC’s Price School and her bachelor's degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College.
Yozaima Escobar is a Mexican-American graduate from University of California, Riverside with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology. Combined with her personal and academic awareness, she holds herself accountable to actively investing into positive social change. Eager to make the world a better place, she began her non-profit experience in 2016 when she worked to ban plastic bags from California. Her role as an afterschool tutor served as a catalyst to invest into the future by providing opportunities for low socio-economic students. Working as a Program Fellow for Spark, Yozaima is excited to come back home and empower youth in hopes of creating a self-sustaining community.
Melvin’s journey into higher education began at Los Angeles City College. He then transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where he developed an interest for student services. Upon graduation, he received an Outstanding Contribution to the School of Social Ecology award for his commitment to enhancing the Field Study Program which connects more than 900 students to over 225 community partners annually. Melvin went on to serve as a proud City Year AmeriCorps Member mentoring middle school students in his childhood neighborhood of Westlake, Los Angeles. He then joined City Year’s Civic Engagement Team, and helped execute over 20 large-scale beautification events at different schools throughout the city. Now with Spark, Melvin aims to continue helping students actualize their own potentials.
A first generation college graduate born and raised in Southeast LA, Gilma has seen firsthand how low socioeconomic status affects a person’s mental, physical and emotional well-being. While completing her B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Northridge, she focused her studies in better understanding the different cultural and social factors that affect a person’s development. In the spring of 2015, Gilma began her journey with Spark as a Volunteer Program Intern where she assisted with dispatch logistics. Soon after, she became part of the Spark team again, but this time as an AmeriCorps Vista Public Allies Fellow. Gilma is happy to continue with the Spark team in a full-time role. She is an advocate for higher education and is committed to inspiring youth to realize their full potential, despite whatever obstacles may come their way.
Anna received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College in Environmental Analysis, cum laude, with a concentration in environmental education and policy. During college, she worked at male juvenile detention camps to provide lesson planning and teaching assistance in Earth Science, Nutrition, and Career Pathways. After graduating, she co-directed the Los Angeles office for a nationwide nonprofit focusing on public health and environmental advocacy campaigns. Anna then went on to organize recruitment and strengthen partnerships for Los Angeles’ region of the California Conservation Corps, a youth development program which offers high school diploma assistance and paid working opportunities. She developed a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector and connecting youth to meaningful possibilities. As the Manager of Corporate Partnerships, Anna supports Spark LA's corporate partner portfolio by bringing experience and enthusiasm to fortify and expand partnerships increasing visibility of Spark’s powerful program. When she’s not at work, you can find her rescuing, rehabilitating and fostering dogs.
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