Monthly Archives: April 2012


Jon Bon Jovi Joins Launch of “SparkOpportunity Challenge”

At a time when more than 6.7 million young people are not in school and are unemployed, this cutting-edge Challenge spotlights the power of young people to shape the solutions, and harnesses social media to support social innovation.

“As a White House Council Member, last summer I met with various organizations across the country and the youth that they serve,” said Jon Bon Jovi. “What I saw on these visits were bright, determined, focused young people who were seeking out opportunities to overcome obstacles. These young individuals have learned which services work and which don’t. They have learned that working with like-minded organizations in their communities can create jobs and opportunities.”

“The SparkOpportunity Challenge is a platform for all youth to submit solutions and potentially have their ideas for reconnecting their peers come to life,” says Jon Bon Jovi.

The SparkOpportunity Challenge (SPARKOPPORTUNITY.ORG) calls on young people to submit videos or text detailing their solutions and use social media to campaign for the ideas that they think can really work. The top-voted winners will receive an iPad, start-up grants of $1,500, and mentoring from recognized business and policy leaders to see their ideas brought to life locally.

The Challenge was developed by SparkAction, an initiative of the nonprofit Forum for Youth Investment, and The Youth Leadership Institute, along with a coalition of leading youth organizations across the country.

Organizers are launching this online effort in response to the White House Council for Community Solutions’ call for the nation to do more to reconnect young people with the education, training and comprehensive social supports critical for long-term employment and lifelong economic independence.

The Challenge is designed to spotlight youth-driven solutions and identify new ideas from young people from all walks of life. All solutions are fair game, from entrepreneurial start-ups to ideas for social change.

“Lifting the voices of youth to forge innovative solutions is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing as well. We are delighted to be part of an effort that does just that,” says C.J. Callen, CEO of the Youth Leadership Institute. The Institute has formed a National Youth Ambassadors initiative to build opportunities for stakeholders in communities to hear the unique and vital perspectives of young people seeking pathways to educational and employment opportunities.

“The Youth Ambassadors bring strong ideas to the table and are the most effective role models and mentors for struggling youth because of what they’ve overcome and what they’ve achieved,” says Caitlin Johnson, co-founder of, which hosted the highly successful “Ask the Secretary” contest for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during the National Youth Summit.

“The SparkOpportunity Challenge will amplify the work of the National Youth Ambassadors initiative, providing all young people across the country a chance to share their solutions to some of the greatest challenges they face—unemployment and the lack of opportunities—and make a real difference,” says Johnson.

To join the SparkOpportunity Challenge, young people and their adult allies can visit SPARKOPPORTUNITY.ORG, submit ideas to create jobs and opportunities, and vote for the ones they think can work.

About the Partnership: the SparkOpportunity Challenge is led by three organizations:

The Forum for Youth Investment is a nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” dedicated to helping communities and the nation make sure all young people are Ready by 21®: ready for college, work and life. It was founded by Karen Pittman, a nationally recognized pioneer of the field of youth development in the United States.

SparkAction, which developed the Challenge idea and platform, is a collaborative journalism and advocacy website to mobilize action by and for children and youth. Its stories and action tools help concerned young people and adults get informed and get involved across the full range of issues affecting children, youth and families.

The Youth Leadership Institute has been an innovative leader in field of youth development for over 20 years, working to build communities that invest in youth and support young people in their work for effective community change. YLI serves youth and communities through advocacy, training and consulting services, and through community-based programs.


JBJSF Celebrates Ribbon Cutting of a New Home in Camden, NJ

Joining Manuela and Jorge at today’s event was the Mayor of Camden, Mayor Dana L. Redd, Father Michael Doyle and Helene Pierson from Heart of Camden, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson, Ann Baiada from the Small Things with Great Love Gala, and Mimi Box, Executive Director of the JBJ Soul Foundation.

JBJSF Celebrates Ribbon Cutting of a New Home in Camden, NJ

With the help of Heart of Camden, Jorge and Manuela will move from the 2nd floor apartment in the East Camden neighborhood where Jorge was shot to a renovated row house in South Camden, where the community will provide assistance to the family through the support system of Heart of Camden. The home renovation was funded by the Neighborhood Stimulus Program and the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, and Heart of Camden – using money raised at a benefit gala last year at which Jon Bon Jovi accepted the Small Things with Great Love Award on behalf of the JBJSF. Heart of Camden will hold the mortgage. Manuela will make monthly payments to Heart of Camden to ultimately own the three-bedroom row house.

To read more about Jorge, please see the story on

To learn more about the Heart of Camden, please visit their website

To view more photos from this event, please visit our Photo Gallery

JBJSF Celebrates Ribbon Cutting of a New Home in Camden, NJ