Sustaining Passion,


and Resolve for

Career Success

What is SPARCS?

a Minnesota youth technology development program for middle and high school students who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary.

SPARCS helps students:

  • increase awareness of information technology (IT) career opportunities

  • explore technology tools, apps, and build tech skills

  • be supported by IT professionals

  • build relationships with other young tech-oriented students

  • consider and prepare for higher education

  • become aware of special program offerings provided by SPARCS partners


Bright Ideas Hackathon | December Event

Bright Ideas Hack-A-Thon online event involves pitching the idea of a product or service that solves a social or business problem.

SPARCS does Target Field – IT’s Live! | November Event

Back by Popular Demand! Learn about Target Field and the Minnesota Twins with an exclusive behind the scenes look focused on the stadium, the entertainment industry, and business technology.

Cyber Security – Exploring Career Opportunities | October Event

Do you know a female high school or college student who is trying to decide if cyber security would be a good fit for them?

Who is SPARCS eligible?

High school students who applied for the Minnesota and National Aspirations in Computing Award are eligible to participate, as are other high school students who have technology interests and aspirations.  In some cases, the program serves students in middle school as well.  The activity description typically specifies eligible age/grade levels.

When do activities take place?

The SPARCS program year is generally October through August of the following year.  In-person or virtual events can take place in the evening, Saturdays, and in some cases during the school day.

How is SPARCS activity information communicated?

Activities, classes, competitions and special events offered by SPARCS partners are communicated to SPARCS eligible participants who request to be made aware of periodic events, or have participating in the past and remain on the SPARCS mailing list.  Students and parents receive notice of the events and are provided a registration link.

What organizations are involved?

The lead organization is Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence.  Financial support is provided by sponsors of the Aspirations in Computing Awards Program, the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), and other available resources.

Existing sponsors and partners are: BDPA, Code42, General Mills, Information Systems Security Association, Land O’Lakes, Optum, Prime Therapeutics, Microsoft, Minnesota STEM Partnership, Minnesota Twins,  MnTech–Women Leading in Technology, Securian Financial, SPS Commerce, STEM Fuse,  Stoneridge Software, Target, Three Bridge Solutions, Twin Cities Chapter of the Association of Women in Computing, Thomson Reuters, Unisys, Veritas Technologies



Contact Russell Fraenkel, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnerships

(651) 253.9438