Introducing Our Flexible Tuition Policy: Furthering Our Commitment to Diversity, Inclusivity, and Accessibility:
When The Spark was founded in 2018, we made it our mission to inspire, educate, and empower artists and the community through innovative productions, comprehensive training, and a welcoming support structure for all those who create. This requires creating a nurturing space for reflection, risk-taking, and learning where the contributions of each individual are respected. In order to cultivate such a community, we must be fully committed to diversity and inclusivity and accessibility.
Effective immediately, we are implementing a new Flexible Tuition model that eliminates the categories of "scholarships" and "financial aid," and replaces it with a tuition model that empowers you to determine based on your financial resources what you are able to pay.
The Spark seeks to provide an environment for learning and growth, whereby students are introduced to, welcome, embrace, and celebrate differences. Our new flexible tuition model demonstrates our commitment to cultivating such a space.
Why a Flexible Tuition Model?
Diversity of experiences opens up opportunities for leaps in learning and understanding. Diversity of thought is a catalyst for creativity and innovation. Exposure to diversity amplifies empathy and inspires people to take action to address the ills of society. But diversity is difficult to incorporate into schools or programs that rely on tuition paying students to fund their operations.
The Spark is proud to be an inclusive and safe space for all who walk through our doors. We actively work to create a space where all humans are respected, listened to and supported. In seeking ways to create a more diversified and accessible tuition model we have researched other alternative and progressive tuition models embraced by schools and other arts programs locally and nationally. Wanting to ensure that all artists who would benefit from The Spark environment were encouraged to register, we decided to review our tuition policy. We wanted our tuition policy to be inclusive of all across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Flexible tuition models are not typical among private schools or arts programs, but they do exist. Perhaps the most notable example of a sliding scale or flexible tuition model is that of the Manhattan Country School which was adopted in 1970. Today, MCS has broad economic diversity and no racial majority, rarities in the private school education space.
“The sliding scale concept” (flexible tuition) “…was predicated on the idea that a family’s financial commitment should be in equitable proportion to its economic resources,” explains Roger Mintz, interim director of finance for The Manhattan Country School (MCS), a school on New York’s Upper West Side.
“Financial aid, scholarships, etc., are labels used that identify students with ‘less than’—in this case, less resources than are needed to pay the tuition,” Mintz says. This tuition model, he says, eliminates the need to apply labels to any student based upon the amount of tuition their family pays.
What is Flexible Tuition?
Flexible tuition is based on the principle that a person’s financial commitment should be proportionate to their financial resources. The Spark empowers you to make this decision for yourself while carefully considering our Valued Price for each program as we currently rely heavily on the income from program tuition and ticket sales.
We provide you with the Valued Price (monetary worth of the programs, as defined by the expenses and benefits) for each program’s tuition per student. Considered in this tuition amount is the livable wage we pay our teaching artists and production professionals, training and production expenses, and administrative support and general operating expenses. These are weighed against class sizes and fair market values of other local programs. This amount is the cost per student to run a program and would be considered 100% of the tuition cost for each program.
Most programs at The Spark are offered to students based solely on registration. During registration you are invited to indicate what you are able to pay of that Valued Price. We do not require you to submit financial records for consideration - it is up to you to determine your tuition.
Tuition amount is not considered when submitting for an application based program. In fact we do not ask you to select a tuition amount until after you have been accepted into these programs.
In choosing to pay 100% of the Valued Tuition Price you are only covering your tuition, not that of another student. As defined the Valued Price is the cost per student to run a program.
Is a Flexible Tuition model risky?
Choosing to move forward with a Flexible Tuition model requires trust between The Spark and our community. It requires transparency on our part and fair valuation of the services we provide and it requires our community to fairly assess their economic resources and to honestly reflect this in the tuition amount they choose.
At The Spark we have an ultimate goal of being a fully funded arts programs and community space that provides comprehensive training at no cost to our students while paying our professionals a livable wage. However we are still a growing company that relies heavily on the income from program tuition and ticket sales in order to continue operating. As we work toward this ultimate goal, The Spark does not want to lose sight of accessibility - we therefore have never turned a student away for financial reasons and we never will.
Not all students at this time will be able to pay 100% of the Valued Price and at this time The Spark does not have funding secured to offset the costs of lost tuition. The Spark is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated within the state of Colorado. So if you are interested in making a “Pay It Forward” donation in support of this accessible tuition model that amount is tax-deductible.
Please contact us for more information or if you have a work exchange possibility. We will provide a list of our needs here as they become available.
"The more we share the more we have." Leonard Minoy