sPARK Awards 2024 Winners

Forever Balboa Park hosted its second annual sPARK Awards on May 9, 2024. The sPARK Awards celebrates people and organizations that amplify Balboa Park’s distinct and positive impact on the region, by recognizing those undertaking creative, collaborative, and imaginative work.  

More than 210 guests gathered to honor this year’s three awardees:

Igniting Innovation

San Diego Automotive Museum,
IGNITE Academy

San Diego Automotive Museum’s IGNITE Academy combines career exploration, independent research, and skill-building via project-based learning in order to prepare students for internships and other pathways towards successful careers in the automotive industry. This comprehensive program features hands-on learning in basic tools, engine components and functions, shop protocols, safety and more, the program provides mentorship, guidance, as well as early career exposure and experience.

Crossing Boundaries 

Museum of Us and Friends of Friendship Park,
Border Wall Preservation Project

In 2023, when dismantling of the old border wall between San Diego and Tijuana for replacement commenced, community members were outraged to learn that the stretch of wall running through Friendship Park—the iconic binational gathering place— would be torn down. After extensive coordination with representatives of Customs & Border Protection and a federal contractor, lead by Museum of Us and FOFP, several sections of the wall were donated to the Museum of Us. FOFP and the Museum of Us will regularly convene a Community Advisory Council to determine how the sections will be redistributed back into our trinational (US-Mexico-Kumeyaay) region.

Enhancing Ecosystems 

CleanUp Kitsune

CleanUp Kitsune (kit-soo-nay) began as a Japanese inspired performance art project picking up litter at Balboa Park and public events and has grown to encompass environmental media, waste services, up-cycled goods and generating consumer awareness through education, culture and creativity. Equipped with kitsune masks, bamboo basket backpacks and trash pickers, they walk around outdoor events in costume, cleaning up litter, applauding for proper waste disposal, taking pictures with families, and passing out upcycled or sustainable gifts.

Recognizing a Key Partner

Japanese Friendship Garden & Museum of San Diego

The “Happi Helpers” program is part of the Japanese Friendship Garden & Museum of San Diego (JFGM) sustainability program and is a collaborative program advanced by JFGM and CleanUp Kitsune. JFGM plans to expand this program by promoting it throughout San Diego including Balboa Park.

Award winners were selected after careful review of nominations by a volunteer Selection Committee. A $5,000 cash prize was provided to each awardee’s nonprofit of affiliation or choice from Park Catalyst sponsor San Diego Foundation to fuel continued innovation and curiosity.

The sPARK Awards 2024 were made possible by San Diego Foundation and other generous sponsors, including PNC Bank, A.O. Reed & Co., Burnham Center for Community Advancement, and ENJET Media.

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