Celebrating Innovation in Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a source of health and wellness, economic benefit, and cultural enrichment for the San Diego region and beyond. Forever Balboa Park’s sPARK Awards recognizes outstanding people and organizations that amplify Balboa Park’s distinct role and positive impact. Please join us to celebrate award winners and nominees; learn from engaging speakers; explore the museum; and enjoy live music, delicious bites, an open bar, and the company of fellow Balboa park lovers!

Thursday, May 9, 2024
5 – 7 PM
San Diego Air and Space Museum
2001 Pan American Plaza,
San Diego, CA 92101

Be a Sponsor

Thank you to our generous event partners! To help underwrite the sPARK Awards, please review the sponsorship opportunities at the link below, or email Janessa Wheeler at  janessa@balboapark.org or (619) 331-1115. 

Special Guest Speaker:

Betsy Brennan is the President & CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the economic prosperity and cultural vitality of Downtown’s urban neighborhoods. Brennan leads the organization’s broad spectrum of services to benefit Downtown, including conducting successful advocacy in service of the organization’s mission, telling the story of the market as an ideal place for investment and growth, and providing excellent enhanced services to make 275 blocks of Downtown more clean and safe.

Brennan has also been a critical voice on the future vibrancy of Balboa Park including serving as a member of the Burnham Center for Community Advancement’s Balboa Park Working Group and the City of San Diego’s Balboa Park/San Diego High School Working Group. In 2022 she was recognized as CEO of the Year by the San Diego Business Journal.

Award Categories

The sPARK Awards inspire a sense of belonging, welcoming a wide range of nominees: individuals and organizations; nonprofit, public or private sector; and within or beyond the boundaries of Balboa Park. Award winners are selected after careful review of nominations by a volunteer Selection Committee with diverse knowledge, experience, and backgrounds, and a shared love for Balboa Park. A $5,000 cash prize will be provided to each awardee’s nonprofit of affiliation or choice from Park Catalyst sponsor San Diego Foundation, to fuel continued innovation and curiosity.

Igniting Innovation

The Igniting Innovation Award recognizes innovation, imagination, and risk-taking related to Balboa Park. Individuals, organizations, partnerships, or collaboratives may receive this award for efforts that spark new ways of viewing or experiencing Balboa Park, leading to increased opportunities, possibilities, and potential.

Crossing Boundaries 

The Crossing Boundaries Award recognizes interdisciplinary or cross-sector collaboration that demonstrates Balboa Park’s multifaceted impact. Individuals, organizations, partnerships, or collaboratives may receive this award for efforts that cross disciplinary, organizational, cultural, generational, or other boundaries to make connections among nature, art, science, performance, learning, history, civic engagement, or other areas of interest.

Enhancing Ecosystems

The Enhancing Ecosystems Award recognizes outstanding efforts to improve the environmental wellbeing and sustainability of Balboa Park, and thus, the natural world. Individuals, organizations, partnerships, or collaboratives may receive this award for efforts that enhance Balboa Park ecosystems, expand environmental stewardship within or through Balboa Park, or support the connection between Balboa Park’s natural spaces and community health.


Images from sPARK 2023

Winners of the 2023 sPARK Awards

Last year’s sPARK Awards honored outstanding organizations in the three categories above. 

Sponsors as of Wednesday, April 16: 
Park Catalyst
Park Partner
Park Ally
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