Students Shine Through Community Service in the Spark Tank Spotlight

The mission of Spark Tank, in which students learn how they can make an impact and build a better world through entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership, and service, has never been more important.

So, too, has that impact never been greater, thanks to our students’ unwavering dedication to making a difference during the pandemic. When the health and welfare of some of the most vulnerable people has been at such a heightened risk due to COVID-19, students found inspiring ways to reach them. 

Some young entrepreneurs tried to make life on the streets or in homeless shelters a bit better through non-profits previously launched through Spark Tank, which captured the attention of the media. They are Ross Brodsky ’21 and Alex Goldenberg ’21, whose Sole Purpose was designed to collect, refurbish, and distribute sneakers to New Yorkers who are homeless; and Chloe Trujillo ’21 and Victoria Buendia-Serrano ’23, founders of SustainAble Start, which provides eco-friendly hygiene kits also to local-area residents who are homeless. Other student-entrepreneurs raised funds in support of a WHO global pandemic response and local economic relief efforts for families on limited incomes.

As always, a number of exciting new ideas for projects, including those born from students' personal passions and experiences, were brought to Spark Tank with the goal of benefiting people without the same access to resources.

The Year in Review
During 2020-21, Spark Tank, which was founded in 2015 and quickly became a signature Dwight program, continued to grow: Over 90 students participated, including all students in grade 9 Design classes — more students than ever before; 20 of whom presented at virtual Spark Tank events and seven received $250 Spark Tank Service Challenge grants. This year was also the first in which Dwight Global students participated in our after-school incubator program. 

Additionally, Jessica Capiraso (Gwynne ’22 and Grace ’25), who has been a member of the Foundation’s Spark Tank Committee from the very beginning, assumed the role of Chair. Currently Vice President at Victoria’s Secret, she has held leadership positions at other iconic brands, including Henri Bendel and Gucci worldwide. As quite a few students over the last six years have launched their own fashion lines through Spark Tank, Ms. Capiraso has lent her industry expertise as a mentor and guidance in the areas of marketing and e-commerce. 

Under the Committee’s oversight this year, the following students received funding to help them advance to different stages in Spark Tank’s five-step development cycle, including three whose projects were launched and recognized with $1,000 grants from The Dwight School Foundation (indicated with an asterisk).  

  • Justin Chen ’21, who organized a benefit concert in the early fall to raise money for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Relief Fund
  • Logan Gatch ’21*, who began designing a signature fashion line, PG 22, in 2018 
  • Jennifer Klein ’21*, who published Klein’s Colombian Cookbook to raise both awareness of the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community and money for food distribution through St. Peter’s Church 
  • Calvin Yang ’21*, who founded the Canadian Youth Alliance for Climate Action, the country’s first youth climate lobbying and public policy firm
  • Justin Chen ’21 and Jacob Bruner ’23, who helped to launch Dwight’s own student-led 566 Records website and music label
  • Victoria Buendia-Serrano ’23, who has been working on two projects: Easy Aura, a filter-free app to try on makeup; and Forming Futures with Matthew Archer-Nieto ’23, a non-profit to provide toddler care and school supplies to families with low income facing additional economic challenges during COVID-19 
  • Avery Meer ’23, who is developing a Student Stress Support (S3) app
  • Erick Hernandez ’24 and Rachel Rubinstein ’24, who have been creating art kits for New York City public schools in need of supplies distributed through the non-profit organization, Project Rousseau
  • Guilherme Sequeira ’24, whose Self-Tape Stuff provides home-recording tools needed to make self-tapes for auditions, and college and job applications, also distributed through Project Rousseau
  • Lukas Lancaster ’25, a Dwight Global student, who began My Porch Garden to grow produce on his balcony for those working in his apartment building in West Jakarta, Indonesia, as fresh produce has been difficult to find during the pandemic
  • Isabella Fakhouri ’26, who has been developing her project for a few years, Covered, enabling travelers to customize their suitcase covers

As we enter a new school year soon, we know that Dwight students will continue to bring creativity and innovation to help our local and global communities through the pandemic and well beyond.
 

  • Spark Tank