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Volunteer & Mentor Opportunities


SPARKS is an after school, neighborhood based program for elementary and middle school age students provided by Orono School District and coordinated by the Community Education department. The goal is to provide another intervention that provides extra time and support to help our district close the achievement and opportunity gap for kids who have academic and financial need. A licensed teacher and site/volunteer coordinator along with community mentors provide academic support, homework help and encouragement to students.

Want to get involved?

Fill out the Adult Volunteer Application form and return to the Community Education office or email to Genna Torney at

Volunteer Screening Procedures:

  • A written application – including references
  • Background check
  • Interview
  • Mentor training

SPARKS Locations & Times

  • Monday & Wednesday, 3 – 5 pm, Maple Plain
  • Tuesday & Thursday, 3 – 5 pm, Long Lake

Who can come to SPARKS?

SPARKS is designed for students who need academic support and may miss out on other opportunities due to lack of transportation or financial issues. Invitations are sent to families based on school and teacher recommendations.  For each student who enrolls in SPARKS, a personalized learning plan is developed with input from the student, their parents and teachers.

Is there a cost?

No! SPARKS is free to students who receive an invitation.  Thanks to funding from Orono Healthy Youth, private donations and the Minnesota Targeted Services program – students receive instruction, tutoring and all SPARKS activities without a fee.

What happens when SPARKS ends in the spring?

SPARKS students will be eligible for scholarships for Community Education summer camps and classes as well as the afternoon park program for elementary-age students. The SPARKS program provides support for students during the school year and also helps families find opportunities and scholarships for sports and other youth activities in the community during the summer.


Orono STRIVE program, offered in partnership with the Orono Rotary Club, matches adult mentors with Orono High School students. Mentors provide encouragement and support to help students discover their own strengths and take charge of their education, career and goals. Mentoring occurs once per month during the school day.

Mentors are not tutors, but are there to offer support, encouragement and assistance. Students and mentors meet once a month for 75 minutes during the lunch hour and talk about how school is going as well as their future goals and plans. Meetings also include presentations on topics relevant to life after high school – college, careers, finances, etc.

Want to know more?

Click here for more information on the role of a STRIVE volunteer mentor.

Want to get involved?

Fill out the Adult Volunteer Application form and contact Genna Torney at 952-449-8338 x6350.

Volunteer Screening Procedures:

  • A written application- including references
  • Background check
  • Interview
  • Mentor training

For more information, contact Genna Torney at or 952-449-8338 x6350.