Spark was created in 2017 by Hellenic Hope, a London-based charity, aiming to help kids-at-risk in Greece. Hellenic Hope supports carefully selected Greek nonprofit organizations that help, in a number of ways, children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We asked the question, what new can we bring to these organizations supported by Hellenic Hope, and to the children they help, that can have a lasting impact and that goes beyond what Hellenic Hope currently offers? We kept coming back to digital literacy: how it is very important; often neglected and missing; but can be remedied.
This abstract idea became a reality in early 2018: In partnership with nonprofit organizations Schedia and Christodoulio, we ran technology activities in their premises. We provided teachers, educational material and equipment, including laptops and robotics kits; Schedia and Christodoulio provided the space, and a lot of help and support.
To help Spark grow, reaching more students in more locations, we decided to launch a dedicated charity for Spark activities. And so in August of 2018 we launched Spark Projects, a charitable company registered in London (registered charity number 1185912).
And so, for the school year 2019-20, we are working with 5 partner organizations in 6 locations. We run some 17 weekly classes, reaching 150 children. All this is made possible by our 4 teachers Panayotis, Manos, Yannis and Fotini, and Anna Kamperou who joined us in June 2019 as our on-the-ground Project Manager.
We continue to look for new partnerships, and new ways to help existing partnerships.
the story of spark
OUR TEAM ON THE GROUND
PANAGIOTIS PSOMOS, Teacher: 2/2018 - present
Spark classes: Schedia, Agia Anna, Iraklio and the Piraeus Library.
Panagiotis has been with us since the launch of the program, in February 2018. He helped us survive early stage problems, and helped us grow the program. He was particularly instrumental in setting up the partnership with the municipality of Iraklio.
Panagiotis has a ton of experience. He has been teaching ICT in public schools for 14 years, including 4 years in a special-education school where he is currently vice principal. He has degrees in Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence and Student Psychology & Leadership, and has recently completed a PhD in Digital Education. He has also worked on a number of EU projects, as a participant or coordinator.
MANOS KAREKOS, Teacher: 9/2018 - present
Spark classes: Hatzikiriakio, Iraklio, Piraeus library
Manos joined us in September of 2018, to run a productive year of classes at Hatzikiriakio, and later joined our pilot season at Iraklio. For 2019-20, alongside Panagiotis, Manos helped us set up Spark classes at the Piraeus municipal library, in what is a challenging environment, but one that also has a lot of potential.
Manos has a degree in Technology and Cross-Cultural Communication in Education, and a masters degree in Digital Education from the University of Piraeus. He has been teaching computer science since 2010. He ha also been heavily involved in teaching robotics and coding, and has lead his school's team in national robotics competitions.
YANNIS YATAGANIS, Teacher: 10/2019 - present
Spark classes: SOS Kipseli, SOS Vari, Christodoulio
Yannis joined us in October of 2019. Together with Fotini they started our program at the SOS Villages community center in Kispeli, and he is also teaching our ambitious program at the SOS Village in Vari. Since January 2020, he is additionally filling in for Fotini at Christodoulio and SOS/Kipseli.
Yannis has a degree in Computer Systems and Networks, Databases and Knowledge Management from the Athens University of Economics. He has a wide, 10yr+ experience teaching computer science, both for schools and for adult vocational programs.
ANNA KAMPEROU, Project Manager: 6/2019 - present
Anna joined us in June of 2019, to be the Project Manager for our activities in Greece, She has made a big impact in launching our program at new partners, enriching our activities, improving operations and exploring new opportunities.
Before Spark, Anna worked for the Scottish Refugee Council as a Refugee Integration Advisor and Activities Coordinator, did a project as a Social Scientist at ARSIS in Ioannina and completed an internship at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. She holds a joint BA/MA degree in Sociology from the University of Glascow.
FOTINI MARKOPOULOU, Teacher: 2/2018 - present (currently on maternity)
Spark classes: Schedia, Christodoulio, Iraklio, SOS Kipseli
Fotini has also been with us launch, in February 2018 with the classes at Schedia. She set up our excellent partnership with Christodoulio, and alongside Yannis, launched our largest program to date, at the SOS Village community center in Kipseli. She also taught in Iraklio in the first half of 2019.
Fotini has a degree in Informatics and Telecommunications from the University of Athens. She worked for three years in the development of educational programs and applications, before moving to become a full-time teacher in Computer Science four years ago.
George grew up in Greece and, after high school, left to study in the UK. The English weather won him over and he ended staying for about ten years, studying first at Cambridge and then at Oxford along the way. Since the early 2000s, he has worked in finance in London and New York.
George deeply cares about equal opportunities and education, and is a Ttustee of London-based nonprofit Hellenic Hope, which has been helping kids-at-risk in Greece since the onset of the Greek crisis.
Away from a love for travel, George spends time reading, designing things, experimenting in the kitchen and trying to make sense of current affairs, all preferably in the company of friends and family.
She loves to eat and cook, which conveniently go hand in hand, and explore the world, one roadtrip at a time.
Vivian has worked in technology startups for the last 10 years. She is currently the chief product officer at a NYC startup aiming to improve health literacy through better visualizations. Before jumping into startups, Vivian worked at McKinsey in management consulting. She is passionate about technology, education, and, as would naturally follow, technology education.
Vivian lives in New York City. She has also lived in London and at Stanford, where she went to college, but always finds herself being drawn back to the Big Apple.
Ioanna has worked in Google for nearly a decade and is currently EMEA Lead for Business Governance and Compliance.
When not balancing life, work and kids, Ioanna hopes to make a difference by reminding girls and women
of equality and opportunity.
Ioanna lives in London, is a full-time working mother of 3 children and loves hot yoga. She, literally, came from Greece with a thirst for knowledge nearly 20 years ago, and that was that.
Eleni studied law at Oxford University and Sorbonne, and business in Georgetown.
After practicing law for a while, she moved to tourism and then education. Since its inception in 2014, Eleni has been in charge of parent communication for the JMC Kindergarten at the Hellenic American Educational Foundation.
Eleni is the mother of three and lives in Athens. She is a terrible cook, loves sports, being outdoors and reading a good book.