At SparkPath, we are committed to partnering with educators and professionals to provide students with experiences that ignite their dreams, unleash their potential, and make them eager to chase the amazing opportunities in their lives.

For over 30 years, thousands of participants from the Twin Cities metropolitan area have benefited from SparkPath’s dynamic programming. High student participation and strong support from schools and the community are proof of the value of our great programs!



Knowledge Bowl

Senior High Knowledge Bowl began in Fergus Falls, MN, coordinated by the Lakes Country Service Cooperative. The first KB season featured teams from only eight school districts in western Minnesota. Today, Knowledge Bowl has grown to include over 800 teams from across the state and is sponsored by the Minnesota Service Cooperatives, a coalition of 9 educational service agencies in Minnesota.

Inaugural Young Authors Conference

1991 brought the start of SparkPath’s much-loved Young Author’s Conference, as Keynote Marion Dane Bauer focused on Writing From the Heart. What began as a small, single-day conference of a few hundred students has expanded into a five-day conference bringing together thousands of young writers each year.


The Creatives

Early on, the Creativity Festival was held at Coffman Union on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Moving to the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2000, and then splitting into separate programs, the Creativity Festival and CreativeCon excite and encourage young people to explore their creative potential alongside professionals from the arts and sciences. We now partner with the University of Minnesota.


SBC becomes a Nonprofit

Success Beyond the Classroom (now known as SparkPath) was incorporated as a Minnesota non-profit to house Metro ECSU (now known as BrightWorks)’s student programs.


The Future City Competition Launches in Minnesota

17 schools participated in the inaugural Minnesota Regional Future City Competition (FCC) at Saint Anthony High School. Since then, the MN FCC has been hosted by the University of St. Thomas, University of Minnesota, Dunwoody College of Technology, and currently, Dakota County Technical College. Over 300 6th-8th graders participate each year.


Middle Grades Knowledge Bowl

Knowledge Bowl expands their grades to include a Middle Grades Knowledge Bowl program for 5th-8th graders. Today over 100 middle grade teams compete yearly in the metro-wide Middle Grades Knowledge Bowl program.



STEMLink, once known as STEMLink5, began as a one-day event at Normandale Community College. STEMLink has since expanded to four college campuses and now reaches hundreds of 5th and 6th grade students annually.


SparkPath Goes Virtual

The COVID-19 pandemic caused schools to shift to distance learning. SparkPath quickly adapted and converted Knowledge Bowl, Young Authors Conference, The Creatives, STEMLink, and the Future City Competition to the virtual world!


Inaugural Knowledge Bowl Nationals

SparkPath worked with Knowledge Bowl Coordinators from Colorado and Washington to host the first-ever Virtual Knowledge Bowl Nationals tournament on Discord. Nine teams from Minnesota competed head-to-head with curious students from the other two states!


SparkPath Takes Back the B-E-E!

SparkPath took over the coordination of the Twin Cities Regional Spelling Bee! The team was excited to offer students another option to pursue academic excellence, build confidence, and practice communication skills.


Success Beyond the Classroom Rebrands!

Our new name, SparkPath, captures the goals of our programs: to ignite curiosity, creativity, and confidence and illuminate the amazing paths that lay before our students. 

Retired SparkPath Programs

Blizzard Cup

2009 – 2015

SparkPath in partnership with the YMCA Beacons after-school program provided an academic challenge opportunity to Beacon students, grades 6-8, from several Minneapolis public schools. The program, similar to Knowledge Bowl, was called the Blizzard Cup thanks to generous funding from Dairy Queen International (DQI).

Young Inventors Fair

1980 – 2012

The Young Inventors Fair (YIF) engaged approximately 7,000 young inventors in grades 3-8 each year. Students created original inventions over a multi-month period using a project-based curriculum that emphasized the creative process, scientific inquiry skills, and problem solving.

Water is Life Contest

2008 – 2011

In collaboration with the Minnesota Service Cooperatives and The Freshwater Society, high school students participated in a contest to create a piece of visual art conveying messages about water conservation. The artwork and accompanying statement from each artist explained the theme of their work and how the artwork conveyed the importance of protecting and preserving water.

Just the Arts

2006 – 2009

Just the Arts provided inspiration and exploration of a variety of performing and visual arts topics for grades 6-9. This event offered students an opportunity to explore an art form of their choice in a deeper way.

Holocaust Remembrance

1995 – 2006

This presentation was a powerful multimedia message that provoked students to examine the effects of social injustice and discrimination. It enhanced school curriculum related to the Holocaust and included open dialogue with a Holocaust survivor.

Ragamala Dance

2003 – 2004

Ragamala Dance Company performances introduced students to the South Indian dance form of Bharatanatyam. SparkPath collaborated with the University of Minnesota’s School of Music to provide performances of Return of the Rain Seed, where Ragamala dancers wove a magical spell of music, dance, and the spoken word to tell the story of Mala, a young girl who yearns to be brave and adventurous.

Hands On History

1999 – 2004

Student in grades 5-7 were immersed for a day in the life of early Minnesota settlers at Murphy’s Landing, a living historic village of the 1800’s located in Shakopee, MN.

Fourth Write! Conference

1998 – 2004

Fourth Write! was a series of one-day events designed to immerse Minneapolis Public Schools’ fourth grade students and their teachers in experiences and expertise of professional writers, literary artists, and educators.  The purpose of the conference was to support increased student achievement in writing. It focused student and teacher attention on the expectation that, by the middle of fourth grade, students should be purposefully applying the skills of written communication with increasing expertise.  

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© 2023 SparkPath, Inc.

SparkPath presents its programs in collaboration with BrightWorks (formerly Metro ECSU). BrightWorks member districts/schools save 30-50% on SparkPath registration fees. For more information, visit www.brightworksmn.org.

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